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Ask The Expert

October 25, 2012

Chronic Urticaria, Echinacea, Autohemotherapy

Question
Recently I saw a 64 year-old female patient with chronic urticaria (longer than 2 years ) who took Echinacea capsules for 2 weeks and cleared completely. How do you explain this improvement? Please also comment on Autohemotherapy for this entity that some times does work in this entity. Thank you.

Answer
The determination of effective therapies for chronic urticaria require double blind placebo-controlled studies involving large numbers of patients. The disease is so variable that uncontrolled individual case reports are of little value. That is why autohemotherapy (which has no biochemical or immunologic basis by which it can work) might occasionally appear to do so. We see the same thing in the placebo control group in studies of drug therapy of chronic urticaria with occasional dramatic improvement that has nothing to do with the drug in question. Echinacea is an example of that sort of occurrence.

Allen Kaplan MD


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