The largest trial so far conducted using Butterbur extract to treatintermittent allergic rhinitis (hay fever) shows that this plantextract is as effective as a commonly used antihistamine (Telfast 180).
In recent years there have been a few reports of small researchtrials that give a mixed view about the effectiveness of Butterburextract for treating intermittent allergic rhinitis (IAR). Nowresearchers from Germany and Switzerland have published results from arandomised, double-blind, parallel group comparison study involving 330patients in 11 centres. They found that treatment with butterburextract was as effective at combating symptoms of IAR as treatment witha conventional antihistamine (Telfast 180). In addition they found thatButterbur extract did not cause drowsiness.
'Despite being a herbal drug, Butterbur Ze339 has now beensubject to a series of well controlled trials and should be consideredas an alternative treatment for IAR,' says lead researcher AndreasSchapowal.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a plant found throughoutEurope and Asia and parts of North America. The roots of this planthave been used in herbal remedies for centuries while the leaves haveonly been introduced recently as a new herbal medicine. An extract caninhibit the body's ability to produce leukotrienes, biomolecules thatare involved in the inflammatory response to allergens. They also helpstimulate the body's production of prostaglandins, chemicals that playa role in reducing inflammation.
Finding an alternative therapy for IAR is important partlybecause up to 20 per cent of people living in Western countries sufferfrom it.
'Because Butterbur does not cause the sort of drowsiness thatis so often associated with other anti-histamines it could beparticularly useful for patients who can not tolerate other therapies,'says Schapowal.
"Treating Intermittent Allergic Rhinitis: A Prospective, Randomized,Placebo & Antihistamine-Controlled Study of Butterbur Extract," bySchapowal, Phytotherapy Research, Published Online: August 22, 2005.Available via Wiley InterScience at http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/ptr.
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