Other Names: Petasites vulgaris, bog rhubarb, blatterdock, butterdock

Composition: The rhizome (or root) is used, though due to toxic alkaloids present in the rhizome, only standardized, commercial preparations should be used.

Description and History: Butterbur has a long history of use in folk medicine, though like many folk remedies its effectiveness is not supported for all conditions for which it has been used. Standardized extracts (such as Ze 339) are used to treat allergic rhinitis and to prevent migraines. 

Cross-Reference List: Headache; Allergies

Migraines: A standardized butterbur product has been used effectively in several studies to prevent migraine headaches in both adults and children. The key to efficacy is consistency with its use as a preventive, with benefits reflecting a decrease in total migraines by 50% after consistent use.

Allergies: A specific butterbur extract (Ze339) has been used in multiple clinical studies effectively for the treatment of allergies and found to be as effective as popular pharmaceutical solutions such as Zyrtec (Schapowal, 2004). These supplements were standardized to 8mg of petasin per tablet, 3x per day.

Somatoform disorders: These are psychiatric disorders that result in physical pain, and butterbur may help to relief it. In a clinical trial of 182 patients, a blend featuring butterbur extract standardized was issued to the volunteers. Measured factors included depression and anxiety, and the extract was effective as a safe, short term treatment after 2 weeks of treatment

Contraindications: Not recommended for use during pregnancy or lactation.

Interactions: Theoretically butterbur may interact with some heart and blood pressure medications.

Preparations and Dose: Butterbur is effective in a standardized preparation, typically a capsule or tablet. Doses used in clinical studies (with citations) are outlined above and in the individual condition handouts.

Meet Dr Hawkins

Dr. Hawkins brings 20 years of expertise in the integrative health field to her role as Executive Director of the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and the leader of our clinical research team.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health from Union Institute and University, a Master’s Degree in Health Education & Promotion from the University of Alabama, a post-graduate certificate in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a PhD in Health Research from Middle Tennessee State University, and is completing the post-doctoral Global Scholars Research Training Program at Harvard Medical School. She also holds certifications in numerous natural health fields including aromatherapy, aromatic medicine, herbalism, childbirth education, and labor support.