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Original Article


The Butterbur Extract Petasin Has No Effect on Skin Test Reactivity Induced by Different Stimuli: a Randomized, Double-Blind Crossover Study Using Histamine, Codeine, Methacholine, and Aeroallergen Solutions


C Gex-Collet ,1 L Imhof,1 A Brattström, 2 WJ Pichler, 1 A Helbling1

1 Division of Allergology, Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology / Allergology, Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland
2 Zeller AG, Romanshorn, Switzerland

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2006; Vol. 16(3): 156-161



Background: Petasin (Ze 339) was recently introduced on the market as a potent herbal antiallergic drug for treatment of respiratory allergies such as hay fever. Few clinical studies have been performed so far addressing the clinical effectiveness of Ze 339.
Objective: To evaluate the antiallergic properties of Ze 339 using skin prick tests with different stimuli, such as codeine, histamine, methacholine, and a relevant inhalant allergen.

Methods: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was performed in which Ze 339 was compared to acrivastine, a short-acting antihistamine, in 8 patients with respiratory allergy and in 10 nonatopic, healthy volunteers. Antiallergic activity of Ze 339 was determined by analyzing inhibitory potency in skin prick tests with codeine,
histamine, methacholine, and an inhalant allergen. Wheal-and-flare reactions were assessed 90 minutes after a double dose of Ze 339, acrivastine, or placebo. An interval of at least 3 days was left between the skin tests.

Results: Acrivastine was identified as the only substance that significantly inhibited skin test reactivity to all solutions analyzed in all study subjects. In contrast, no significant inhibition could be demonstrated for Ze 339 with any test solution. Moreover, the results of Ze 339 did not differ significantly from placebo.

Conclusions: In this study we found no antiallergic, particularly antihistaminic, effect of Ze 339 in skin tests using a variety of stimuli often used to evaluate immediate skin test reactivity. The mechanism by which Ze 339 is effective in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis still needs to be elucidated.

Key words: Petasin. Ze 339. Herbal drug. Acrivastine. Antiallergic drugs. Skin prick test. Wheal-and-flare reaction