Вutterbur, also called Petasites hybridus, is commonly used in Europe for relief of allergic rhinitis-and scientific evidence has shown it to be effective. For instance, several studies have found that butterbur alleviated nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes and other symptoms about as effectively as the drugs cetirizine (Zyrtec) and fexofenadine (Allegra)-but without the medications' sedating side effects, Butterbur appears to work by decreasing the body's production of histamine, a chemical that triggers allergy symptoms.

Butterbur is commonly sold at health food stores in capsule form. Select a product labeled "standardized extract that contains 75 mg to 16 mg of the active ingredient petasin per capsule. Take three or four times daily until allergy season is over. (Ideally, begin this regimen about two weeks before your allergy season typically starts to prevent symptoms). Rare side effects include headache, itchy eyes, drowsiness and nausea. As a general precaution, do not take butterbur if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Good brand: Petadolex by Enzymatic Therapy 60 softgels for $49.95, 800-783-2286, www. enzy.com). Butterbur is not known to have any drug interactions

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