Now that summer is in full swing, many will find that along with the warmer weather comes allergy season. It’s great to see leaves on the trees and flowers brightening gardens, but unfortunately pollens and other allergens can create some chronic, irritating symptoms that can put a damper on your well-being. You might resort to grabbing some allergy medication from the pharmacy, but why not consider an herb called butterbur? It might be able to offer some relief from allergy symptoms without the common side effects of antihistamines.
Butterbur is a member of the daisy family. The Latin name for the herb is “Petasites hybridus,” but it’s also called blatterdock, bog rhubarb, bogshorns, butterdock, butterfly dock, capdockin, flapperdock, langwort, and umbrella leaves. Used in the past to relieve spasms and pain in the urinary tract, in addition to easing muscle cramps, it is now being used to relieve symptoms of allergies, such as hay fever. The petasins, which are extracted from butterbur, bind to histamine. This is very important, as it is the release of histamines that cause you to have an allergic reaction.
A study done in Scotland concluded that there was no significant difference between butterbur and fexofenadine (the active ingredient in “Allegra”) when treating allergic rhinitis. Another study determined that butterbur protected patients against grass and pollen allergens. According to a report in the “British Medical Journal,” participants in a
study who were taking butterbur experienced the same effects as when taking cetirizine (“Zyrtec”), but without the drowsiness.
The typical dose of butterbur supplement is 50 milligrams, twice a day with food. Some recommend taking the supplement for about four to six months, and then slowly tapering off. One note of caution: Butterbur that contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids must be avoided (look for labels that state unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids), as these are toxic to your liver and kidney.