Antihistamines are the classical treatment for seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever), but whilst they can reduce rhinorrhoea and sneezing they are less effective in reducing nasal congestion and may cause drowsiness. In January 19 British Medical Journal, Andreas Schapowal from the Allergy Clinic Landquart, Switzerland — on behalf of the Petasites Study Group — showed that butterbur (Petasites hybridus) can be efficient in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis when the sedative effects of antihistamines need to be avoided.

Extracts from the leaves and roots of butterbur — variously known as butter dock, bog rhubarb and exwort — contain a mixture of eremophilan type sesquiterpenes (petasines). These petasines were seen to inhibit the biosynthesis of leukotrienes, which have been implicated in the anti-inflammatory action in type I hypersensitivity.

Schapowal et al. performed a randomized controlled trial to compare the efficacy and tolerability of butterbur extract tablets (ZE...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?