Spring has sprung and with the warm weather comes bountiful buds and blooms on the plants that surround us. Spring also brings plant allergens that can disrupt our enjoyment of nature’s rebirth. Fortunately, nature supplied solutions for allergies as well so before you run off for an over-the-counter or prescription drug replete with many side-effects, consider the natural remedy butterbur as an effective alternative.
Butterbur, also known as Petasites hybridus, is a shrub that grows in wet, marshy areas in North America, Europe and parts of Asia. The plant has been traditionally used for pain, headaches, fevers and digestive problems. Multiple studies reveal that butterbur offers relief for allergy symptoms as well.
In a study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, scientists at the British University of Exeter, found that butterbur was as effective against allergy symptoms as a non-sedative allergy medication and more effective than the placebo used in the study.
A study by Max Zeller Söhne AG, in Romanshorn, Switzerland and published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that butterbur inhibited the allergic response and reduced allergic airway inflammation in animals exposed to allergens compared to the placebo which had no effect on the animals.
Another Swiss study comparing butterbur to the prescription allergy medication cetirizine (also known as Zyrtec) found that the effects of 8 milligrams of butterbur four times a day are similar to those of cetirizine in patients with seasonal sinus and nasal congestion when evaluated blindly by patients and doctors. The scientists concluded that butterbur should be considered for treating seasonal allergies.
The raw, unprocessed plant contains chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) that can be harmful to humans, so butterbur products should clearly state that they are PA-free on the packaging. Unlike the drug, butterbur does not have the following side effects: drowsiness, excessive tiredness, dry mouth, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing or difficulty swallowing.
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