Home > Managing Headaches > Butterburr: Pros and Cons

Butterburr: Pros and Cons

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 5 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Butterbur Plant Extract Migraine

Butterburr, or butterbur, is the common name of an extract from the plant Petasites hybridus. It has been tested in a full clinical trial, which concluded it did have some positive impact on the frequency of migraine headaches in people who suffer several attacks each month. Since 2004, when the study was published, very little other research has been carried out, so it is difficult for people with migraine to find out if it is worth taking or not.

The Evidence for Butterbur

Many effective drugs come from plant extracts and anecdotal evidence that the butterbur plant was useful as a preventative treatment for migraine suggested it might be worth investigating. A team of US researchers set up a clinical trial in the early 2000s, using standardised extracts of butterbur to compare its effects at different doses. A group of people with frequent migraines were split into three subgroups and given either a placebo or a 50mg or 75 mg dose of butterbur.

The results showed that the higher dose of butterbur was significantly more effective than placebo at preventing migraines. After three months, migraine frequency in the group treated with the 75mg dose had reduced by 48% - which means that these people were having only half as many headaches as before they started the trial.

Obtaining Butterbur – Caution is Needed

The clinical trial was careful to note that only extracts of butterbur that had been produced under the best conditions were suitable. Plant extracts used as complimentary medicines are sold as food supplements in the UK, and the amount of active plant extract must be controlled accurately. This makes sure that each batch of tablets contains the same ingredients.

If you decide to take butterbur for migraine prevention it is important to obtain the tablets from a reputable supplier. They can be bought over the internet, but an established supplier is best. It is possible to get hold of the plant itself, but it is not a good idea to try to make the extract, as this will result in a preparation with an unknown amount of the active ingredient. There is also the worry that a crude extract will be contaminated with other plant ingredients – some of which are known to be cancer causing.

Long Term Safety of Butterbur

The researchers that ran the trial of butterbur also noted that tablets that provide a daily dose of 100mg of butterbur extract have been sold in Germany since 1992, and around half a million people have taken the extract since it was first allowed onto the market. Although herbal preparations are just as liable to have side effects as drugs produced by the pharmaceutical industry, butterbur seems very well tolerated and safe. Most of the adverse effects are on the digestive system.

Butterbur – or Butterburp?

The most likely side effect of butterbur is that it increases gas production in the digestive system – many people who have taken it report that it makes them burp. This can be inconvenient but most of the people who have found that it helps reduce the frequency of their severe migraines view it as a small price to pay.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • OllO
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Kk - I would. Obviously, it's going to be an impact, but if it doesn't subside it's always good to get stuff checked out…
    19 July 2018
  • Mr.brown
    Re: Headaches Caused By Infection
    Question I recently had taken sti antibiotics for one week after that's about a week from the last day I took the pills I start…
    11 July 2018
  • Hil
    Re: Migraines and Menopause
    @CarryWarry - Oh wow - thanks for this. I have had a continual headache since menopause, having never suffered previously in my life.
    2 July 2018
  • MiM
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    @Queen - go back. If you have taken the time out to ask for help, then you need to see someone as obviously your neck is not right.
    2 July 2018
  • CarryWarry
    Re: Migraines and Menopause
    I am hoping to be at the end of a horrific 2.5 year period of hell with headaches which came out of the blue. My story started with me…
    2 July 2018
  • Queen
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I hit my head about 3 months ago. It hurt but I'm someone who has a high pain threshold and tend to "walk things off". However,…
    2 July 2018
  • Shazza
    Re: Headaches After Head Injuries
    I fell few weeks backs banging my head slightly. But last few days my head as been a bit fuzzy with headaches any need for…
    19 June 2018
  • Migraines/tension/pr
    Re: Numbness in Head With Pain and Dizziness: What Can it Be?
    I feel numbness on both sides and top of my head feels like my brain is swallon like a lot…
    18 June 2018
  • Lou
    Re: Headaches Caused By Infection
    I'm having lightheaded and can't stand up been in hospital they done all the test MRI ct scan all clear had a really bad attract…
    11 June 2018
  • N0NE
    Re: Headache With Pins and Needles: Is This Serious?
    Started feeling nausea yesterday,just now I felt sick,stood up and felt dizzy felt like I was going pass…
    5 June 2018