Butterbur (Petasites Hypridus)

Butterbur Benefits

Butterbur (Petasites hypridus) is a herb used mainly to treat headaches and seasonal allergies. There are two kinds of Butterbur plants which look almost identical. Make sure to use the one that contains petasin. Petasin is described as a bitter tasting compound found in the Butterbur plant. Migraine, headache and hay fever sufferers will greatly appreciate the discernment. Displayed as a pink flower stalk with lilac and very soft reddish flowers as well as rhubarb-like leaves, Butterbur is native to mainland Europe, Asia and North America. The best environment for growth and survival are marshes, wet meadows, damp roadsides, riverbanks and ditches.

Latin Name

Petasites hybridus

Common Names

Common butterbur, sweet coltsfoot, blatterdock, bogshorns, butter-dock, butterfly dock, capdockin, flapperdock, langwort, umbrella plant.

Indicated for

Headache and inflammation, severity of migraines, seasonal allergies such as itchy eyes, itchy and runny nose, and nasal congestion.


Anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, cardio tonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, and leaves that function as an analgesic.

Historically, in the sixteenth century, Butterbur as a dried powder was mixed with wine to fight in the battle against the plague and other virulent diseases. It was also used as a treatment for worms as a form of diuretic, the spurring on of menstruation, and by Native Americans as a herbal remedy for headache and inflammation. Other uses were for urinary tract issues, wound healing and back pain. Butterbur has been in use for over 2,000 years. The name Butterbur comes from the use of wrapping butter in its large leaves during the warm weather.

Studies show that Butterbur is currently most effective for the treatment of headaches and inflammation, severity of migraines and hay fever. It is important to note that Butterbur has not been proven to treat all allergies, only seasonal allergies which include itchy eyes and noses, sneezing, runny noses and nasal congestion. Additional research is necessary to determine if Butterbur is safe and can eventually be used for year-round allergies such as mold, dust or animal dander.

Each part of the Butterbur plant is very important. The leaves, roots, flowers and stems are all used for medicinal purposes in some way. For example, when taken orally, studies show a specific extract from the root of the Butterbur over a four month period can lessen the relentlessness of headache pain and the duration of these headaches as they occur. The leaf extract of Butterbur decreases nose discomfort.

Butterbur can be taken in several different forms. It can be eaten, given as a powder, in pill form, in tea or as a tincture. However, it is very imperative to note that Butterbur contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are toxic chemicals. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are created by plants to defend them against the feeding frenzy of insect herbivores. These toxic chemicals may cause liver damage or cancer to the liver. When purchasing Butterbur products, consult your physician first and make sure that your purchase is labeled: Pyrrolizidine alkaloid or PA-free. An effective dosage of Butterbur is 50 to 75 mg twice a day.

Butterbur Herb Notes / Side Effects

Always be aware that products used for medicinal purposes may contain side effects. Butterbur is not immune. Some side effects include indigestion, vomiting, headache nausea, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. Gastrointestinal problems, drowsiness and fatigue are additional side effects of using the herb Butterbur. Very serious side effects are considered to be jaundice, pain in the upper right of the chest, asthma, and swelling of the abdomen.

Please note that because this herb belongs to the Ragweed family, if you are allergic to Ragweed, you must not take this herb. This is also true if you are allergic to Chrysanthemums, Daisies or Marigolds. For allergic reactions to this herb, look for unusual conditions such as hives, swelling of the mouth, the throat or the lips, itching, skin rashes, wheezing or shortness or breath. In depth research has not been presented about Butterbur’s interaction with other medication. This herb is not intended for pregnant or nursing mothers or for patients with kidney or liver disease. It can be purchased under the brand name Petalodex, Tesalin and Petaforce. As with any medical treatment, always consult your primary care physician to insure that this is the right treatment for you.

Important: Click Here to Read Our Disclaimer

Used This Herb? How Would You Rate It?

Current User Rating 8.5/10 Based On 12 Votes

Has Butterbur Worked For You?

This page is not a wiki so it is not editable like Wikipedia, however we would like to hear your information and comments and sometimes incorporate these into the articles.

Click Here To Post a Comment
Ali Bamford 's avatar  Ali Bamford 02/05/2015 10:00

Breaking out in hives or any other seeming sensitivity/intolerance reaction may actually be a detox response. The body is not necessarily trying to purge the herb, but may be using elements in the herb to purge other accumulated toxicities. Many herbs can help to clean the blood.

Cludss 's avatar  Cludss 22/10/2014 03:51

I started taking butterbur after incredible sneezing bouts, itchy eyes and nose. I didn't receive any benefits, but unfortunately did beak out in the most uncomfortable hives on an evening, the itching so bad I would make my skin bleed. I'm all for natural cures…I'll just do my homework next time :(

2 people liked this.
Michelle Doll 's avatar  Michelle Doll 03/04/2015 16:01

Its a great idea to test any new medicine, including herbs and even new foods, by performing a simple allergy test. Rub the new plant/food material on the inside/crook of the arm, near the elbow bend, but where you can see it. If its in a dry form, moisten it to make a paste before rubbing. Next, using a serrated butter knife (NOT a sharp one!) gently scratch the skin to work the test material in well. Don't bathe or shower for 24 hours, at least. Watch area carefully for any sign of a reaction. If none (at all), next, sample a small amount. If food, eat about a Tablespoon, no more. If medicine, take 1/3 to 1/2 a minimum recommended dose. Wait 2 days. If no allergic reaction, then you can slowly incorporate the new food or herb into your diet/ treatment plan. This works for new medicines your doctor may prescribe also. BUT it only tests for allergies, not drug/herb interactions, so be aware of this limitation.

Cheri 's avatar  Cheri 02/04/2014 19:46

I began taking Butterbur to prevent migraines (which it did well), and noticed after awhile that my allergy symptoms -- stuffy nose and sinus congestion, itchy eyes and ears -- were relieved. I recommend it.

View All Butterbur Reviews and Comments