3 Benefits of Butterbur: Headache, Asthma and Allergy Relief

3 Benefits of Butterbur: Headache, Asthma and Allergy Relief

Sometimes a particular herb is like the cream that rises to the top and butterbur is one of those herbs. It is derived from a shrub indigenous to North America, Europe and Asia grown in marshy environments and used for centuries to heal a variety of ailments.

Here is an introduction to the 3 benefits of butterbur: headache, asthma and allergy relief. Keep in mind that using any alternative remedy requires patience as healing properties are often accumulative. Do not take butterbur without checking with your physician and/or naturopathic doctor first.

Lab Conclusions

Studying herbs is important for conventional medicine. It allows the potential for validation to those who may otherwise avoid herbs out of distrust for observational reports alone, even if they are weaved through hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Fortunately, butterbur has received some valid comparison studies with prevalent findings when used for headache, asthma and/or allergy relief:

“An NCCIH [National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health] – funded literature review reports that in a clinical trial of 125 participants, butterbur was just as effective as a commonly used oral antihistamine for allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes.”

“In a study of 245 people conducted by the Department of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 68% of participants saw the incidence of migraine headache symptoms reduced by at least 50%.” (Natural News)

Two double-blind studies cited by the University of Michigan, state:

“In a double-blind trial, supplementing with an extract of butterbur (Petasites hybridus) for four months was significantly more effective than a placebo at reducing the frequency of migraine attacks.The amount of butterbur found to be effective was 75 mg twice a day of an extract standardized to contain at least 15% petasins. A smaller amount (50 mg twice a day) was ineffective.”

“In a double-blind study, adult asthma patients taking inhaled steroids took either butterbur extract or placebo. There was a significantly greater improvement in airflow in the group that took butterbur extract compared with those who took a placebo.”

In the Thick of It

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center describes the different mechanisms in butterbur such as ‘sesquiterpene petasin’ a compound thought to be the perpetuator of this herb’s healing properties. It is a compound that inhibits histamines and leukotriene, two allergic reactives that may cause discomfort such as a runny nose, itchy eyes and respiratory challenges.

Petasin has also been shown to create anti-inflammatory and antiallergic effects as well as act as a calcium channel blocker which may decrease or prevent migraine symptoms.

In addition, there is the vaso-relaxation effects of butterbur on smooth muscle, possibly enabling more blood flow aka vasodilation. When there’s more blood flow, more healing elements can be transported to a specific area. In the case of allergies, rapid blood distribution of petasin can block histamines faster. For migraines, blood flow to the brain as well as the inhibition of specific chemical reactions could be the result of taking butterbur.

Bringing it Home

Working with butterbur as a remedy for allergies, asthma or headaches must be guided by a professional herbalist, naturopathic doctor or medical practitioner. Doses vary as well as potency so it is important to make sure you get the proper choice or it may not work for your specific presentations.

There could be some contraindications when taking butterbur such as pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

The University of Michigan recommends the following dosage protocol,

“The most commonly available product is an extract of the rhizome of Petasites hybridus standardized to contain 7.5 mg of petasine per capsule. This type of extract removes the pyrrolizidine alkaloids to avoid causing liver damage. Intake is usually 1 to 2 capsules three times per day.”

Talk to your physician and/or naturopathic doctor about the 3 benefits of butterbur: headache, asthma and allergy relief. There’s probably a good chance you have one or more of these ailments and butterbur just might help.



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