Cellulose powder is a relatively new option for the treatment of hay fever symptoms. Previous studies have tested this powder to treat allergy symptoms in adults. A study recently released by researchers in Gothenburg, Sweden tested cellulose powder to treat hay fever in children with positive results.
Allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever, is a seasonal reaction to pollens and other allergens in the environment. An allergic reaction is caused by an incorrect response by the immune system. When pollen or another allergen enters the body, the immune system incorrectly identifies it as something harmful. This triggers the release of antibodies and other defenses to protect the body against the harmful intruder. This defense also causes common allergy symptoms including runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes.
In cases of hay fever, pollens from plants are carried into the lungs in the air we breathe. Common treatments include antihistamines and decongestants which can be taken as pills or nasal sprays, as well as corticosteroid sprays. These treatments work to reduce the body’s immune system reaction to pollen and to limit the severity of allergy symptoms.
Cellulose powder use is a preventive method rather than a reactive approach to treating nasal allergies. The powder, which is made from pine trees, is puffed into the nose where it attaches to the mucus membrane. This enhances the mucus produced in the nose which increases the body’s ability to filter pollens out of the air before they are carried to the lungs.
The Swedish study included 53 children and teens ages 8 to 18. Some received cellulose powder while others received a placebo. Each child puffed powder into his/her nose three times a day for 4 weeks. Text messaging was used to remind the participants to use the powder and to get reports from them on their symptoms. During the test period, researchers also measured the daily pollen count and compared their readings to the reported symptoms.
The study showed that children who used the cellulose powder had significantly fewer allergy symptoms than children using the ineffective placebo. Researchers also noted no adverse or negative effects on the children due to the cellulose powder.
Nils Aberg, associate professor at the Department of Pediatrics and a consultant at the Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital said, "The complete absence of adverse effects makes this treatment admirably suited to self-care, and particularly for the treatment of children. Controlled scientific studies such as the present also provide the healthcare system a basis for testing this product as a supplement to other treatments."
Reviewed July 26, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Shannon Koehle