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Butterbur for Allergies

Butterbur for Allergies

Butterbur is a natural herb with therapeutic properties. It has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of allergies, migraines, etc. This article provides some information on the medicinal uses of this herb.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
The well-known plants that are commonly referred to as 'butterbur' are actually a part of the daisy family Asteraceae in the genus Petasites. They are robust plants which have thick, creeping underground rhizomes, and large leaves like those of Rhubarb, during the growing season. Nowadays, it has been observed that the frequency of allergy attacks have supposedly decreased, by the treatment using this natural herb.

Properties and Uses of the Herb

It has been claimed that the use of this herb for migraines and allergies is not new. This is because according to research, petasin, a type of sesquiterpene ester, is a major active compound present in the herb extract. It has inhibitory activities on leukotriene generation in eosinophils and neutrophils, which are the chief white blood cells that act during an inflammatory reaction. This indicates that it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties. However, it has been seen that the herb is not that effective in blocking the release of histamine into the body.

A controlled trial was carried out to study the effectiveness of this natural herb, and cetirizine (a well-known antihistamine drug), as a treatment option for seasonal allergic rhinitis. This study was conducted by several researchers in Switzerland, and Germany. Based on the result that was published in the 'British Medical Journal', it was concluded that when it comes to anti-inflammatory properties, the effects of cetirizine are quite similar to those produced by butterbur. Another important conclusion derived from the trial was that this natural herb does not lead to drowsiness and is worth considering for treating symptoms of allergic rhinitis, when sedative effects of drugs need to be avoided. British researchers have recognized, and agreed to the fact that this herb aids in subduing symptoms related to grass allergies, and other such allergies.

It was recently reported that modern research has also shown that extracts of the herb contain active ingredients that prevent migraine attacks, thereby reducing the severity, and duration of these attacks. Butterbur has also been used in various parts of Europe to treat asthma, chronic cough, and prevent gastric ulcers. Recent research has revealed that this wonder herb might be, as effective as conventional drugs for relieving hay fever, and allergies. Although there are certain side effects, they are negligible compared to the unpleasant side effects of other anti-allergic drugs. According to a study published in 'Phytotherapy Research', an extract of this herb's leaf works as good as any other commercial antihistamine, in alleviating the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

This herb is available in the form of tablets at any natural food store, or even at pharmacies. It is highly recommended that you opt for herbal supplements that have a seal on them, as they follow a testing procedure, and also so as to ensure that they are of good quality. The aforementioned herbal remedies for allergies might prove beneficial.

Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.