According to researchers at the University of Gothenburg, the end may be in sight for allergy sufferers. Patients plagued by the misery of seasonal allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever, can be cured, thanks to a powder derived from pine trees.
Now in this latest study, scientists found that the pine tree powder forms a barrier on the mucous membrane when puffed into the nose, filtering out allergens such as tree and flower pollen.
“The cellulose powder has no adverse effects, and this fact makes it a particularly attractive treatment for children,” said study author Dr. Nils Aberg, Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics.
The double blind, placebo-controlled study, was carried out during the birch pollen season and involved 53 children and adolescents aged 8 – 18 years with allergies to pollen. Participants puffed the pine-tree derived cellulose powder in the nose three times daily for four weeks. They also took a daily dose of an oral antihistamine.
Pollen levels were measured every day and were subsequently analyzed in relation to the symptoms reported by the children. Patients or their parents were reminded to report their symptom scores using daily SMS messages sent to their mobile phones.
Results showed a statistically significant reduction in total symptom scores from the nose. Further data for the study, published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, came from past unpublished statistics of pollen levels collected for 31 years at the same location in Gothenburg, from 1979 to 2009.
Dr. Aberg added: “We showed that the nasal symptoms of the children were significantly reduced in those who used the cellulose powder. The best effect was obtained at low to moderate concentrations of pollen”.
Word on Health asked leading allergist, Dr. Bill Storms for his reaction to this study. He told us, “It appears that the waxy coat of the pine tree pollen might line the inside of the nose after sniffing it and this might prevent other pollens from getting into the mucus membranes. However, I note that patients were asked to do this three times a day and I’m not sure how many will do this. I also wonder if there are any long term effects of putting cellulose in the nose.”
As we’ve said so many times before, further studies are needed.