Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a large-leafed shrub plant native to Europe as well as some parts of Africa and Asia. The herb is also known as butter-dock or bog rhubarb.
Extracts from its roots, leaves, and stem have been used to treat conditions such as...
==> Migraine headaches
==> Stomach ulcers
Butterbur has also been used in the traditional medicine practices of the Greeks and Native Americans against pain, inflammation, and skin sores.
In the 14th century, butterbur was even used to ward off the plague!
With regards to allergies and asthma, butterbur has a long history as an effective medication. Its anti-inflammatory effects decrease histamine and leukotrienes—two of the main chemicals responsible for the body's allergic reaction.
Symptom Relief Without Side Effects
Several studies have shown that butterbur blocks the action of inflammatory chemicals—such as histamines—released during allergy attacks. Scientists believe butterbur's mechanism is similar to synthetic antihistamines like Zyrtec and Allegra.
A study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy indicated that butterbur is as effective as fexofenadrine (Allegra) in treating hay fever. Another study showed similar results when butterbur was compared to Zyrtec.
The Swiss researchers noted that participants given butterbur experienced none of the usual drowsiness or other side effects of allergy medications.
Furthermore, two human studies have shown that butterbur is an effective preventive treatment for migraines, including one study published in the journal Neurology.
Butterbur For Migraine
The Migraine Research Foundation reports that migraine ranks among the world's top 20 most disabling illnesses. About 14 million people experience migraine attacks on a near-daily basis.
More than 90% of sufferers can't work or function normally during migraine attacks, and the Foundation says, "...sufferers live in fear that an attack could disrupt their ability to work or go to school, care for their families, or enjoy social activities."
Many migraine patients abandon preventive treatments due to side effects. Butterbur may offer an exciting alternative. Not only has butterbur been used historically against migraine, but research also shows that the root prevents migraines more effectively than placebo.
In the Neurology study, 200 migraine sufferers were randomly assigned to either 75 mg of butterbur, 50 mg of butterbur, or placebo. People receiving higher doses of butterbur experienced a 48% reduction in migraine frequency compared to a 36% reduction for lower doses and a mere 26% reduction for placebo.
Dosage and Common Concerns
Typically, butterbur is taken in the form of tablets. However, it's also available as teas, extracts, and capsules containing raw herbs.
Doctors from Mayo Clinic have compiled this list of important considerations for those interested in taking butterbur to treat their seasonal allergies or to prevent migraines:
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