Between 10 to 20 percent of the population experience hives at one time or another. As you know, they are mediated by histamine, a substance released in the body during inflammatory and allergic responses. In some people, hives are triggered by stress while in others, food sensitivities and even exercise or temperature changes can be responsible. The fact that you've been dealing with hives for three years is unfortunate, but not all that unusual. In about 75 percent of all cases, the reaction usually disappears within about eight months, but as you've found it can go on for years.
If I were you, I would disregard the advice you got from the iridologist. I see no scientific basis for iridology as a diagnostic system, and studies have failed to show that practitioners have any statistically significant ability to detect the presence of disease by observing eyes.
Instead, I would recommend trying a course of quercetin, a bioflavonoid from buckwheat and citrus fruits. It works by stabilizing the membranes of cells that release histamine. This brings inflammatory and allergic reactions under control. You can buy quercetin products in health-food stores. The best form is a coated 400 mg tablet, taken twice a day between meals. It can take six to eight weeks of continuous use for quercetin to build up to therapeutic levels in the body. To soothe the itching of hives, try cornstarch or colloidal oatmeal added to bath water.
And because there is an obvious mind-body connection with the histamine system and with hives, I would strongly recommend working with a hypnotherapist or guided imagery practitioner. You can get a referral to a practitioner of guided imagery by contacting the Academy for Guided Imagery at www.academyforguidedimagery.com and a hypnotherapist by contacting the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis at www.asch.net/referrals.asp.
Andrew Weil, M.D.