Butterbur extract, from the
root of the butterbur shrub, was originally used in Europe in the Middle Ages
to treat plague and fevers. Although we don't completely understand the
benefits of butterbur, people frequently use it to treat coughs, asthma,
headaches, and stomach ulcers. The scientific name for butterbur is
People commonly use
butterbur to treat coughs, asthma, hay fever, and stomach ulcers. Butterbur extract may prevent migraine
headaches.1 Doctors do not know exactly how butterbur
Butterbur is considered a dietary supplement
in the United States and is available under the brand name Petadolex.
When used properly, butterbur
extract is safe and well-tolerated. But it is not safe to use all formulas of
butterbur extract, since the plant contains cancer-causing substances. Make
sure you only use butterbur that has had the cancer-causing ingredients
removed. Talk to your doctor before you take butterbur, and ask him or her to
examine the specific brand you intend to use.
Side effects may
include mild upset stomach and gas. Experts do not recommend butterbur extract
for young children or women who are pregnant or nursing.
Lipton RB, et al. (2004). Petasites hybridus root (butterbur) is an effective preventive treatment for
migraine. Neurology, 63(12): 2240–2244.
June 11, 2013
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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