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What is butterbur, and how does it work?

allergies butterbur migraine stomach

Suppose you're searching for a natural migraine relief supplement or a way to promote neurological health. In that case, butterbur extract might be precisely what you need. The butterbur plant has been used as a remedy for a couple of ailments since ancient times. And nowadays, studies reveal that butterbur extract can offer exciting health benefits. This article discusses what butterbur is and how does it work to your advantage.

What is butterbur?

Butterbur or the Petasites hybridus is a member of the daisy family. It thrives in wet areas, like marshes or along the river. Butterbur grows in North America, Northern Asia, and Europe. It has distinctive reddish flowers in early spring before blooming into large heart-shaped leaves.

Traditionally, the plant was used to soothe a dry cough. Ancient healers used it as a tea to help cleanse the toxins in the body and restore its full health. Nowadays, scientists explore additional health benefits of butterbur, including pain relief. It contains chemicals that resemble the body's pain relievers.

Curiously enough, butterbur has been traditionally used to relieve poison ivy rash, bee stings, and other allergies, but it does not cure them. Butterbur is also known as Petasites for its distinctive leaves, often shaped like the flipper of a giant petasos (beaver-skin hat) or "butter hand."

How does it work?

It is worth mentioning that the unprocessed butterbur plant is rich in chemicals. They are called pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These can cause liver damage, as some studies reveal. So, it is best to use butterbur in the form of supplements. These supplements are thoroughly tested to help you ingest an adequate dose without harmful ingredients. The best butterbur supplements are certified and labeled PA-free.

As mentioned above, butterbur is a herbal supplement used for several ailments. Some of these include stomach ulcers, migraines, and urinary tract spasms. Even though there is a need for additional studies, the initial findings reveal butterbur has numerous health benefits.

Butterbur has two chemicals named petasin and isopetasin. These work with your body to fight sore muscles and inflammation. This particular action is what offers butterbur its health benefits.

For instance, one study found that petasin reduced inflammation by about 61 percent.

The research results showed that men taking 50 mg of butterbur per day had better performance in exercise tests than those taking a placebo. After 30 days, the difference was highly significant. The men taking this dosage also experienced less muscle pain during physical activity.

Which are the main health benefits of butterbur?

Butterbur has been the main focus of several clinical trials. Initial findings reveal that it can be an excellent choice for dealing with migraines and allergies. Also, its beneficial chemicals can help with reducing inflammation and oxidation.


One of the essential health benefits of butterbur is prevention and pain relief of migraines. A couple of studies concluded that individuals improved their migraines after three months of taking butterbur supplements. Also, there was observed a decrease in migraine frequency. Keep in mind that it is always best to discuss with your doctor before taking any supplements. If you're following a treatment plan for migraines, you shouldn't stop it without medical advice. Butterbur extract is an ally in managing migraines and headaches if used adequately.


An interesting fact about butterbur is its effectiveness in managing seasonal allergy symptoms. A small study shows promising results, as most people who took the extract for two weeks experienced a reduction in hay fever and allergy symptoms. It is believed that butterbur is effective in lessening allergies because it causes a decrease in histamine, which contributes to the onset of allergy symptoms.

Upset stomach

Some people use butterbur supplements to treat an upset stomach. It is believed that it diminishes inflammation and spasms in the digestive tract, which can help with this situation. Keep in mind that you should take the recommended dosage at all times. Ingesting too much butterbur can cause stomach problems.

Neurological health

Another top benefit of butterbur is that it promotes healthy neurological function. Initial findings reveal that butterbur might prevent oxidative damage and support neurological functions. Butterbur supports healthy blood flow to the brain and allows your cells to oxygenate properly. It is recommended to follow a nutritious meal plan rich in healthy superfoods for the brain. This will boost the effects of butterbur and promote excellent neurological health.

Are there any side effects of butterbur?

Research shows that PA-free butterbur products are safe and well-tolerated when taken in recommended doses. If you take too much butterbur, you might experience some mild side effects, including itchy eyes, diarrhea, fatigue, and drowsiness.

Butterbur isn't recommended for pregnant women, who want to get pregnant, or those who nurse. It is best to discuss with your medical practitioner before taking butterbur. Butterbur might interfere with certain health conditions and medications.

In one study, a few people using butterbur got headaches or upset stomachs. It's possible that taking large amounts of this supplement might cause increased adverse reactions in some people.

Is it safe to use butterbur?

As mentioned above, butterbur remedies might feature chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These can cause serious health problems, including liver damage. You should only take butterbur products certified as PA-free, like these butterbur extract capsules. It is safe to use butterbur if it's gluten-free, non-GMO, and PA-free. Still, pregnant/nursing women, people under 18, and those with a known medical condition should always ask for medical advice before administering any supplement.

How much butterbur should you take?

Overall, a butterbur supplement for adults can be administered daily. One capsule per day will ensure you receive the health benefits of butterbur. It is recommended to take butterbur with a meal for the best results.

The takeaway

Butterbur is an exciting plant that has been used for centuries because of its health benefits. It is a top choice as a dietary supplement to diminish headaches and migraines. But it can help in reducing inflammation and spasms, too. Our advice is to do your research before purchasing any supplement. The best butterbur supplement is the one free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Pure butterbur extract is the one that can boost your health, support your immune system and promote healthy digestion. Just use it while observing the dosage to get the most of its health benefits. 

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