BUTTERBUR BENEFITS and side effects
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Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) has been one of the most popular herbs in the last few
hundred years. Butterbur may have benefits for people with migraine, tension headache,
spasms of the urogenital tract, allergy, hay fever and asthma. [1-5]

ASTHMA

Recently, Butterbur root powder has been shown to improve lung function in patients with
chronic asthma and chronic bronchitis. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the
airways. Asthma treatment typically consists of a control medication to provide long-term
therapy and a relief medication to provide quick-relief therapy. The therapies have the
potential to cause adverse systemic side effects.

Butterbur root powder has been shown to improve lung function in patients with chronic
asthma and chronic bronchitis. TIn a study of 80 patients with mild or moderate asthma,
researchers found two-thirds of the patients had their airflow improved after 2 months of 50-
150 mg butterbur root extract treatment. Butterbur root extract was well tolerated in the
study and only 11 adverse events happened in 7 patients. [2]

OTHER ALLERGIC DISEASES
Several laboratories characterized petasins (petasin, isopetasin, and neopetasin) isolated
from extracts of butterbur (Petasites hybridus) as active ingredients, which inhibit leukotriene
synthesis in leukocytes. In an open clinical trial of patients suffering from allergic rhinitis,
researchers found a reduction of leukotriene and histamine levels in nasal fluids associated
with butterbur extract administration. [4] However, in a study of 60 patients suffered from
perennial allergic rhinitis, 50 mg twice a day of butterbur didnÂ’t show a benefit to patient
suffered from intermittent allergic rhinitis. [7]

MIGRAINE
In a three-arm, parallel-group, randomized trail, researchers supplemented 245 patients
suffered from migraine with butterbur extract 75 mg twice a day, or butterbur extract 50 mg
twice a day or placebo twice a day. Over 4 months of treatment, the researchers found a 48%
reduction of migraine attack for patients taking 75 mg of butterbur extract twice a day while
only 26% reduction for the placebo group. [5]

Butterbur main components are the petasines and they are the chemicals contributing the
major benefits of butterbur. Petasines can inhibit the synthesis of leucotrienes and decrease
the intracellular concentration of calcium; leading to the anti-inflammatory and spasmolytic
properties of butterbur extracts. [1]

BUTTERBUR SIDE EFFECTS
Butterbur contains hepatotoxic and carcinogenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. However, because of
the modern advanced extraction technique the concentrations of these toxic chemicals lie far
below the detection limits. [1,2]

A few cases of a reversible cholestatic hepatitis have been reports and these cases are
probably associated with long-term administration of butterbur. It is unknown which
components of butterbur are responsible for the long-term hepatotoxicity. Further side effects
involve the mild gastrointestinal disturbance. [1]

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REFERENCE [1] Kalin P The common butterbur (Petasites hybridus)--portrait of a medicinal herb Forsch
Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2003 Apr;10 Suppl 1:41-4. 2. Danesch U. Petasites hybridus
(Butterbur root) extract in the treatment of asthma an open trial. Altern Med Rev. 2004;9(1):54-62. [3]
Brattstrom A. A newly developed extract (Ze 339) from butterbur (Petasites hybridus L.) is clinically
efficient in allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Phytomedicine. 2003;10 Suppl 4:50-2. Review. [4] Thomet OA and
Simon HU Petasins in the treatment of allergic diseases: results of preclinical and clinical studies. Int Arch
Allergy Immunol. 2002 Oct;129(2):108-12. Review. [5] Brown RP and Gerbarg PL, Herbs and nutrients in
the treatment of depression, anxiety, insomnia, migraine, and obesity. J Psychiatr Pract. 2001 Mar;7(2):
75-91. [6] Lipton RB et al, Petasites hybridus root (butterbur) is an effective preventive treatment for
migraine. Neurology. 2004 Dec 28;63(12):2240-4. [7] Gray RD et al, Effects of butterbur treatment in
intermittent allergic rhinitis: a placebo-controlled evaluation. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2004 Jul;93(1):
56-60.
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) has been one of the most popular herbs in the last few hundred years. Butterbur
may have benefits for people with migraine, tension headache, spasms of the urogenital tract, allergy, hay fever
and asthma. [1-5]
Discuss with your doctor before taking any alternative medicine. This article is for
reference only, it is not a medical advice. All rights reserved. Do not copy this article to
other website or blog.