1. What is Butterbur?
Butterbur is a member of the aster family (asteraceae) like sunflowers and daisies. It is often used as a natural headache remedy due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Butterbur is also one of the few herbs that is both safe and effective in preventing migraines. It is also sometimes referred to as wild petunia, or foal flower. Butterbur is often used to help prevent migraines, reduce their severity, and treat headaches and other symptoms caused by allergies. The root of the butterbur plant is used for these purposes. The root can be taken as a tea, tablet, or supplement. It is often recommended as an alternative to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) because it provides relief from the pain and other symptoms associated with migraines. Butterbur in its natural state contains chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) which are removed during the refining process.
2. Why Is Butterbur Root Good for Migraines?
Butterbur Root has been used as a natural remedy with great effect for headaches and migraines in Europe for years. It has recently been studied for use with chronic migraines (4 or more migraine episodes per month) and found to be effective at preventing migraines, reducing the frequency, intensity and duration of headaches and providing relief from the pain associated with them. It is especially powerful when combined with other herbs such as Feverfew.
Butterbur is also known to be useful at relieving muscle tension when taken daily. This makes it useful in treating other conditions such as tension headaches, TMJ, or fibromyalgia.
Reduce frequency and intensity of migraines.
As a painkiller, sedative and muscle relaxant—it is able to reduce inflammation, swelling and tension in the muscles of the head and neck.
By reducing nausea—butterbur inhibits serotonin production which can cause queasiness or vomiting during a migraine attack.
3. Should You Try Butterbur for Migraines?
If you have 4 or more migraines per month and are looking for a natural migraine treatment with minimal side effects, butterbur root is worth a try.
It’s a safe, mild herb with few side effects.
The most common side effect is gastrointestinal issues (stomach pain, nausea, etc). Most people can take Butterbur without any negative side effects. Butterbur has also been shown to be effective for seasonal allergies possibly because it helps reduce inflammation (the main cause of allergy symptoms), as well as reducing nausea.
Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids (PAs): Butterbur Root in its unrefined state contains chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) which are dangerous to the liver. Refinement removes these PA's and additional testing is required to show that levels are within a safe range. Because of this it is important to only use Butterbur Root from trusted sources. If you have liver disease you should not take Butterbur Root.
4. How to Use Butterbur for Migraine Prevention
The best way to prevent migraines with Butterbur Root is to take 150mg of the extract daily. Look for high doses of petasin, optimally at 15%, as it is thought to be the mechanism behind its effectiveness for migraine. Additionally look for Butterbur Root that has had the PA's removed, as they can be dangerous.
Once you start taking it, give it at least three months before you judge its effectiveness. Keep in mind that butterbur is not a quick fix for migraines that have already begun. It’s best used as a preventive treatment to reduce the likelihood of migraine attacks. If you have frequent migraines, it may be a good idea to talk with your doctor about taking Butterbur Root extract on a daily basis. Your doctor can help you decide the best dosage and usage instructions for the extract.
5. Where to Find and How to Take Butterbur Root
You can find pre-made Butterbur supplements at most health stores. You can also find Butterbur Root extract online, in some grocery stores, or at major online retailers like Amazon. Only take high quality Butterbur Root from trusted sources since PAs can be dangerous.
You can take Butterbur Root extract by itself or with Feverfew (an herb commonly paired with Butterbur Root). The combination of those two herbs when combined with Riboflavin and Magnesium is especially effective. When you first start taking it, you may experience some gastrointestinal issues (stomach pain, nausea, etc). This is normal, and should go away after a few days. If it does not, stop taking the extract and consult your doctor.
6. Final Thoughts
Butterbur Root is a mild, natural way to reduce the number and severity of migraine attacks. It’s been proven effective for many people, and it’s also easy to find and take. Additionally, it may also help with seasonal allergies, allergy symptoms, TMJ, and fibromyalgia.
If you’re looking for a safe and effective way to reduce the number of migraine attacks you have each month, try taking Butterbur Root extract daily. You’ll likely see a reduction in the number of migraine episodes you get, as well as the intensity of each attack.