Herbal extract is an effective treatment for hay fever

The herbal extract, butterbur, is as effective as antihistamines for treating hay fever, and does not have the sedative effects often associated with these drugs, finds a study in this week’s BMJ.

Researchers in Switzerland identified 125 patients with a history of hay fever. Patients received either butterbur extract tablets or a commonly used non-sedating antihistamine (cetirizine) as recommended by the manufacturers.

After two weeks, the effects of butterbur and cetirizine were similar in the two treatment groups. Cetirizine produced more sedative effects (drowsiness and fatigue) than butterbur, despite the drug being considered a non-sedating antihistamine.

“We believe butterbur should be considered for treating hay fever, particularly in cases where the sedative effects of antihistamines need to be avoided,” conclude the authors.

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