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Urticaria and herbal care: a brief review

By:   |   Jul 08, 2018   |   Views: 12   |   Comments: 0


         Urticaria is a skin reaction pattern characterized by transient, pruritic, edematous, lightly erythematous papules or wheals, frequently with central cleaning, which may vary in size from a few millimeters to many centimeters in diameter. The wheals are usually circular or annular but may on occasionally develop bizarre figurate patterns. Individual lesions are transient, lasting 12 to 24 hours or less and in most cases less than 4 hours.

       Urticarial lesions are distinctly pruritic; involve any area of the body from the scalp to the soles of feet. The most common site for urticaria are the extremities and face with variable duration. It may occur separately or may be associated with angioderma, which is also a skin reaction involving the deeper layers of skin, including the subcutaneous or submuosal tissues.

         In 1769, William Cullen introduced the word "urticaria" meaning transient oedamatous plaque or papule with itching. It is a common skin disorder and affects 15- 25% of all people at least once in their life time. Although persons of any age group may experience urticaria and or angioderma, the urticaria occurs most frequently after adolescence, with the highest incidence in young adults (20-40 years).Chronic urticaria is twice as common in women as in men. A study showed that out of 500 cases of urticaria, 37% were suffering from physical urticaria.

          Clinically urticaria is classified into acute (duration <6 weeks) and chronic (duration >6 weeks) and may be caused by numerous factors both immunologic and non immunologic, that result in vasodilatation and transudation of fluid from small coetaneous blood vessels6. Immune mechanism is the most common cause and consists of type 1-hypersensitivity state (IgE-mediated) where as nonimmune mechanism works through direct release of histamine and various mediators from mast cells.

         The major etiological factors include drugs9(aspirin, penicillin, sedatives, tranquilizers etc), foods and food preservatives (cheese, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, benzoic acid derivatives etc), inhalant allergens (pollens, mold spores, animal dander etc), infections10(teeth, tonsils, sinuses, chest etc), insect bites and stings(fleas, mites, bedbugs etc), penetrants and contactants11 (foods, textiles, medicaments, chemicals cosmetics etc), physical stimuli (friction, pressure, vibration, heat, cold, sweat etc), internal diseases and psychological factors.

            In Unani system of medicine urticaria is synonymously described as Shara. It was first described by Hippocrates who defined it as a skin disease characterized by sudden appearance of reddish papules with itching and irritation. The papules vary in size and form and are evenly distributed. The actual cause of Shara is believed to be the fasade dam (blood impairment) caused by the vapors of Dame Merari (bilious blood) or Balghame Boraqi (acidic phlegm) coming towards the skin or periphery of the body. A number of therapeutic measures have been proposed by the modern medicine to treat the urticaria. Most of them provide symptomatic relief to the patient but the long term use of these drugs have been reported however, to cause many side effects. In this back drop, it is being realized that the traditional systems of medicine in general and Unani system in particular, which are known for their healing properties particularly in the chronic diseases, can be used effectively in this disease.

                In Unani system of medicine a number of single and compound drugs are being used in the management of urticaria since Greco Arabic period.The principle of treatment is aimed at the alteration or removal of morbid matter, which is the actual culprit for the genesis of pathology leading to development of the disease.

                 The commonly used herbal unani formulations for Urticaria are Majoon Ushba, Majoon Chobcheeni, Itrephal Shahitra, Sharbate Unnanb, Sharbate Mussafi Habbe Mussafi, Zulal Tamarhindi, Jawarishe Tamarhindi, Habbe Shara etc for oral administration and Rogane kameela, Roghane Hindi, Marhame Gulabi, suffofe Hikka for local application in case of severe pruritus.

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