Butterbur is nothing to sneeze at

The symptoms of hay fever--a runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, etc.--are typically treated with antihistamines, which must be taken all day long to offer adequate relief.

Unfortunately, antihistamines have some unpleasant side effects including dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, and dry mouth. They can also cause extreme drowsiness, which makes performing routine daily tasks difficult and driving nearly impossible--not to mention dangerous.

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, the herb butterbur is an effective treatment for hay fever. Dr. Andreas Schapowal, an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist in Switzerland, tested 125 patients, whom he divided into two groups. Those in the first group were given one butterbur tablet four times daily; those in the other group were given one tablet of the antihistamine drug cetirizine per day.

After two weeks, researchers found that butterbur was as effective as antihistamines but did not make patients drowsy.

Butterbur is the main ingredient in the product Petadolex, which has been marketed exclusively for migraine relief. (Look for more on Butterbur and migraine relief in the December issue of Real Health). Petadolex is available from a number of sources, including Natural Health Consultants in Vallejo, California; call (888)852-4993 or (707)554-1820 or visit them on-line at www.naturalhealthconsultant.com. A bottle of 50 capsules costs US$29.75.

If Dr. Schapowal's research is confirmed by others, butterbur may be the antihistamine of the future. However, it shouldn't be used by pregnant women or anyone with liver disease.