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Health News Archive 94 - Hay Fever
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Butterbur treatment for Hay Fever as effective as antihistamine

Nearly 20 percent of the Western population suffer the effects of hay fever, but a new study shows that a natural alternative treatment to the allergy may be as effective as an antihistamine.

In findings published in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of Phytotherapy Research, Swiss and German researchers report that butterbur (Petasites hybridus) extract is as effective in treatment of intermittent allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, as fexofenadine, the common antihistamine used to treat the condition.

Andreas Schapowal and colleagues conducted a double-blind, parallel group trial on 330 allergy sufferers from eleven centers divided up to receive one of three treatments; a placebo, a once daily dose of fexofenadine or butterbur tablets containing 8 milligrams total petasine three times daily. The results were promising. Both the butterbur and fexofenadine significantly improved symptoms compared to the placebo during both day and night. The butterbur, however, did not cause drowsiness; a common side-effect of antihistamine drugs.

According to Schapowal, butterbur should be considered as an alternative treatment for hay fever, particular as it's been subject to a series of well controlled trials. "Because butterbur does not cause the sort of drowsiness that is so often associated with other antihistamines it could be particularly useful for patients who can not tolerate other therapies," Schapowal wrote.

In addition to stimulating anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, butterbur seems to inhibit the production of leukotrienes, molecules that play a major role in the inflammatory response to foreign allergens.

Source: Treating intermittent allergic rhinitis: a prospective, randomized, placebo and antihistamine-controlled study of Butterbur extract Ze 339 (p 530-537)
Study Group
Phytotherapy Research
Volume 19, Issue 6, 2005. Pages 530-537
Published Online: 22 Aug 2005
DOI: 10.1002/ptr.1705

 

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