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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics

Common Butterbur

(Petasites Hybridus)

"For Informational Use Only"
For more detailed information contact your health care provider
about options that may be available for your specific situation.

  • Butterbur Description
  • Butterbur Uses, Health Benefits & Scientific Evidence
  • Butterbur Dosage Information
  • Butterbur Safety, Cautions & Interactions
  • Butterbur Supplements & Products

  • butterbur flower


    Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), also known as Common Butterbur, Sweet Coltsfoot, Lagwort, Plague-flower, Butterdock, Butterfly Dock, Butter-dock, Bog Rhubarb, Flapperdock, Umbrella leaves, Devils's Hat, Pestilence Wort, and Bogshorns. Synonyms include P. officinalis, P. ovatus and P. vulgaris.

    Butterbur is a native shrub of Europe, North America, and Asia that has been used by herbalists for centuries. The plant is native to the wet, Marshy lands of Europe, Northern Asia, and even in parts of Scandinavia. It grows best in shady places, by waterways, marshes, or wet meadows. One variety is also native to North America. Butterbur is a stout, herbaceous perennial plant in the family Asteraceae, arising from a coarse rhizome having a hollow, thick, reddish-brown leafless aerial stem that is covered with lance-shaped scales. It has lilac-pink to pale pink flowers that are small and tubular and are produced in the early spring, before the leaves appear. They have several inflorescences clustered on a 5 to 20 cm stem. The leaves are large, on stout 80 to 120 tcm tall stems, round, with a diameter of 40 to 70 cm. The leaves are so big that the Greeks named the Butterbur "hat plant." The name Butterbur came for the plants leaves, which were used to wrap butter in the days before refrigeration. In the 14th century, the dried and powdered root was used for protecting people from the plague and other pestilent diseases, but was also used as a remedy for intestinal worms.

    butterbur leaf


    During Colonial times, housewives often used the enormous leaves to wrap around butter to keep it cool and fresh.

  • Butterbur was used as a diuretic and as a way to stimulate menstruation.
  • Butterbur has antispasmodic, diuretic, stimulant and analgesic properties.
  • Butterbur is used to treat chest problems such as bronchitis, asthma, and whooping cough.
  • Butterbur helps with digestion especially when obstructed bile flow causes indigestion.
  • This herb has been used for inflammation of the urinary tract.
  • Externally, Butterbur is used as a poultice to treat wounds and skin eruptions.
  • Modern herbalists recommended using the rootstock to break a fever and as a pain reliever.

  • Modern scientific studies have demonstrated that Butterbur supports healthy blood flow to the brain and healthy neurological function. Petasites hybridus leaves have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea or cold maceration in ethanol) and externally (as compresses or maceration in vinegar) for treatment of infections, fever, flu, colds, hay-fever and allergies. In addition, Butterbur may help to maintain balanced seasonal immune responses. Butterbur is said to inhibit the production of histamine, which helps to keep air passages open (including bronchial tubes and nasal passages), this action may help to relieve allergic congestion and seasonal allergies.

    In 2004 there was a study done that reported Butterbur to be as effective as the prescription drug fexofenadine (Allegra) in treating symptoms of hay fever. Another study done in 2005 showed results that Butterbur worked as well as the prescription drug cetirizine (Zyrtec). In addition to this it was found that Butterbur tends to cause less drowsiness, a common side effect of antihistamine medications.

    In one study, published recently in the British Medical Journal, a group of Swiss researchers showed how just one tablet of butterbur extract (Ze 339) four times daily was as effective as a popular antihistamine drug in controlling symptoms of hay fever without the traditional symptom of drowsiness that sometimes occurs. In a second study, presented at the 60th annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), a group of British researchers put their stamp of approval on butterbur's effectiveness in quelling symptoms of grass allergy.

    Preliminary trials have shown a preparation of Butterbur root to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. A commercial extract Petasol butenoate complex (Ze 339) has proved helpful for allergic rhinitis. An evidence-based 2005 systematic review including written and statistical analysis of scientific literature, expert opinion, folkloric precedent, history, pharmacology, kinetics/dynamics, interactions, adverse effects, toxicology, and dosing is available from the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Another study was done and published in February 2014, by Ray Sahelian, M.D., describing the benefits and side effects of Petasites Hybridus.

    The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper called it "a great preserver of the heart and reviver of the spirits". Its many uses in folk medicine include applications as a diuretic and muscle relaxant, and to treat coughs, fever, wounds, stammering, headaches, asthma and stress. Not all of these uses are supported by scientific research.


    Besides its medicinal use, according to A Modern Herbal by Mrs.Grieve, butterbur has also been used in divination. An unmarried woman could see her future husband if she took the seeds and went to a "lonesome place". A half hour before sunrise on a Friday, she had to scatter the seeds while repeating, "I sow, I sow! Then, my own dear, come here, come here, and mow and mow!" If there was a husband in her future, she would see a vision of him with a scythe mowing grass.


    1. Sylvia Vogl, Paolo Picker, Judit Mihaly-Bison, Nanang Fakhrudin, Atanas G. Atanasov, Elke H. Heiss, Christoph Wawrosch, Gottfried Reznicek, Verena M. Dirsch, Johannes Saukel & Brigitte Koppa (2013). Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine- an unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 149 (3): 750-771.
    2. Taylor, Frederick R. (2011). Nutraceuticals and Headache: The Biological Basis. Headache: the Journal of Head and Face Pain 51 (3): 484.
    3. Dumitru, Alina F.; Shamji, Mohamed; Wagenmann, Martin; Hindersin, Simone; Scheckenbach, Kathrin; Greve, Jens; Klenzner, Thomas; Hess, Lorenzo et al. (2011). Petasol butenoate complex (Ze 339) relieves allergic rhinitis–induced nasal obstruction more effectively than desloratadine. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 127 (6): 1515-21.e6.
    4. Dumitru, AF; Shamji, M; Wagenmann, M; Hindersin, S; Scheckenbach, K; Greve, J; Klenzner, T; Hess, L et al. (2011). Petasol butenoate complex (Ze 339) relieves allergic rhinitis-induced nasal obstruction more effectively than desloratadine. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 127 (6): 1515-21.e6.
    5. Giles M., Ulbricht C., Khalsa K.P.S., DeFranco Kirkwood C., Park C., Basch E., Butterbur: An evidence-based systematic review by the natural standard research collaboration. Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy 2005 5:3 (119-1430.


    Butterbur comes in various forms and is an ingredient in many products.

    Constituents: Pyrrolizidine type alkaloids, mainly senecionine and integerrimine; flavonoids, including quercetin, astragalan and isoquercitrin; petasin, neopetasin; tannins; mucilage; volatile oil; sesquiterpene.
    Parts Used: Root (rhizome)
    Typical Preparations: Ethanolic (alcohol) or lipophilic (oil) extractions; Not recommended for use in teas or infusions.

    For making a tea, take 1 teaspoonful of the root in 1 cup of boiling water. Drink 3 times a day.
    In using a tincture, take 1 to 2 ml, 3 times a day.

    For other formulations, read and follow product label directions.


    Butterbur is generally regarded as safe when taken in the recommended doses.

    Large amounts of Butterbur, (much more than the recommended dose) should be avoided, it may cause hypertension.

    If you are taking any medications (prescription or over-the-counter), it is best to consult with your health care provider before taking this herb for the treatment of your condition. Children, pregnant or nursing women, or with those suffering from liver or kidney disease should NOT take Butterbur.

    Butterbur contains chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) that are toxic to the liver and kidneys. Internal use is not recommended. There have been some reports of liver damage associated with the use of butterbur root extract. It should not be used by pregnant or nursing women. Not recommended for long term use.When purchasing Butterbur look for products that have taken the PAs out. Once these are gone Butterbur can be used for a long period of time.


  • Butterbur Herbal Products




    Mountain Rose Herbs: Butterbur Root (Petasites hybridus), Certified Organic, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices


    HerbsPro: Butterbur Extract (Urovex), Source Naturals, 12 Softgels (38232)
    HerbsPro: Butterbur Extract (Urovex), Planetary Herbals, 20 Softgels (38308)
    HerbsPro: Butterbur (Eternal Woman), Source Naturals, 30 Softgels (38230)
    HerbsPro: Butterbur Extract (Urovex), Source Naturals, 30 Softgels (38233)
    HerbsPro: Migra Control (Butterbur), Source Naturals, 50 mg, 30 Softgels (75202)
    HerbsPro: Migra Comfort (Butterbur), Planetary Herbals, 50 mg, 30 Softgels (75170)
    HerbsPro: Butterbur Extract (Urovex), Planetary Herbals, 50 Softgels (38309)
    HerbsPro: Migra Comfort (Butterbur), Planetary Herbals, 50 mg, 60 Softgels (75171)
    HerbsPro: Migra Control (Butterbur), Source Naturals, 50 mg, 60 Softgels (75203)
    HerbsPro: Butterbur Extract (Urovex), Source Naturals, 60 Softgels (38234)
    HerbsPro: Butterbur (Eternal Woman), Source Naturals, 60 Softgels (38231)
    HerbsPro: Migra-Eeze Standardized Butterbur-Ginger-Riboflavin Formula, Life Extension, 60 Softgels (91843)
    HerbsPro: Butterbur With Feverfew, Now Foods, 75 mg, 60 VCaps (67841)
    HerbsPro: Butterbur Extract With Standardized Rosmarinic Acid, Life Extension, 60 Softgels (91865)


    Kalyx: Butterbur Root Powder 4:1 Extract (Petasites Hybridus), Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): RF
    Kalyx: Butterbur Root Powder (Petasites Hybridus), Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): RF
    Kalyx: Butterbur Root Powder, (Petasites Hybridus), Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs): EB
    Kalyx: Butterbur Herbal Respiratory Relief, Herb Pharm, 1 oz: HF
    Herbal respiratory relief compound (formerly wild cherry & petasite hybridus compound is a liquid herbal compound that supports healthy respiratory and bronchial function.


    Amazon: Butterbur Herbal Products

  • Nutrition Basics: Butterbur Herbal Information

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