Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) for migraine headaches

Petasites hybridus plant extract, known as butterbur, has been used for years to prevent migraine headaches. Studies show it is effective at reducing the frequency of migraines.1

Experts are not sure what causes migraines.

Researchers are unclear exactly how butterbur helps to prevent migraines. However, some research suggests that it may prevent swelling and relieve pressure on the blood vessels. Another theory is that it may affect calcium channels, which experts also believe may be related to migraines. More research is needed to determine how butterbur helps prevent migraines.

Butterbur is available as a supplement (tablet or capsule) in the United States and is marketed under the brand name Petadolex. It is important to find butterbur that has been standardized (which means you receive the same amount of active ingredient in every dose) with guaranteed potency. Do not consume butterbur from the plant itself because it has toxic properties, which have been removed in the standardized supplement.

Some people may experience stomach upset, including gas, when they take butterbur. It is not recommended for young children or women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Be sure to tell your doctor before you take butterbur. Like any drug, it can interact with other medications you may be taking or affect your health in ways you may not be aware of.

Citations

  1. Lipton RB, et al. (2004). Petasites hybridus root (butterbur) is an effective preventive treatment for migraine. Neurology, 63(12): 2240–2244.

Last Updated: June 30, 2009

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.