Placebo-controlled trials document the effectiveness of butterbur to treat the runny nose, sneezing, congestion, and irritation in the nose, eyes, throat and ears associated with allergic rhinitis. It’s as effective as two widely used prescription drugs.

Treatment with butterbur (ZE 339) 4 times daily is as effective as citirizine (Zyrtec) taken once in the evening. And it causes less drowsiness. Butterbur 50 mg twice daily is also as effective as fexofenadine (Allegra) once daily, and more effective than placebo.

Here’s where the commitment comes in to play. Allegra and Zyrtec are taken just once each day. It’s easy to do. By comparison, butterbur is taken at least twice a day and might be needed up to four times each day.

It’s a problem because people are significantly more likely to adhere to treatment taken once a day compared to 3 or 4 times daily. By comparison, there is no significant difference between once and twice-daily regimens.

Here’s the challenge. Butterbur is a good alternative to these prescription drugs. You just have to make the commitment to take it more often.

Can you commit?

One more thing. Butterbur should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, young children, or people with severe kidney or liver disease until further testing confirms its safety.

7/31/06 09:16 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.