Treating intermittent allergic rhinitis: a prospective, randomized, placebo and antihistamine-controlled study of Butterbur extract Ze 339

Phytother Res. 2005 Jun;19(6):530-7. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1705.


Background: Intermittent allergic rhinitis (IAR) causes patients distress and impairs their work performance and quality of life. A variety of medicines are used by sufferers whose anguish frequently leads to trying new treatments, increasingly from herbal sources.

Methods: Prospective, randomized, double-blind, parallel group comparison study of Butterbur extract (Ze 339; 8 mg total petasine; one tablet thrice-daily), fexofenadine (Telfast 180, one tablet once-daily) and placebo in 330 patients. Protocol and analysis were according to the latest guidelines on new treatments for allergic rhinitis. The primary efficacy variable was a change in symptoms from baseline to endpoint during daytime. The secondary efficacy variables were: (a) as per primary variable (evening/night); (b) Physician's global assessment; (c) Responder rates. Safety was closely monitored.

Findings: Both active treatments were individually significantly superior to placebo (p<0.001) in improving symptoms of IAR, while there were no differences between the two active treatments (p=0.37). Superiority to placebo was similarly shown during the evening/night (p<0.001), by physicians' own assessment and by responder rates. Both treatments were well tolerated.

Interpretation: Butterbur Ze 339 and Fexofenadine are comparably efficacious relative to placebo. Despite being a herbal drug, Butterbur Ze 339 has now been subject to a series of well controlled trials and should be considered as an alternative treatment for IAR.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Petasites*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / pathology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Histamine H1 Antagonists
  • Plant Extracts