Can Butterbur Squash Migraines & Chronic Fatigue?

Butterbur Benefits for Chronic Pain & Inflammation

Butterbur is an herb that is taken as a supplement to promote several areas of health. It is used to support brain health, respiratory health, blood vessel health and bladder health. The active ingredients in butterbur are petasins, which support healthy blood vessels and muscles. These work to reduce spasms and reduce inflammation, which are actions believed to help prevent migraines and reduce migraine headaches.

Via Self Hacked

By Jillian Burke, MS (Bioinformatics)

Butterbur is an effective treatment for migraine headaches and can potentially help with other conditions, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. It may even protect the brain from oxidative stress. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of this plant, and why you need to choose the supplement wisely.

What Is Butterbur?

Butterbur (any of the plants of the Petasites genus), also known as coltsfoot, is a flowering plant native to Asia, Europe, and North America. It has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to treat a wide range of ailments from high blood pressure (hypertension) and asthma to tumors. It was even used to treat plague and fever during the Middle Ages.

There are several types of butterbur, though the most well studied are Petasites japonicus, also called giant butterbur and Petasites hybridus. Though related, the two are distinct species and may have different properties.

Petasites japonicus is eaten as a vegetable in Eastern Asia and also used in traditional medicine. Petasites hybridus is native to Europe, where it is not considered a culinary plant but is still consumed medicinally .

It is most commonly used for migraine and allergy relief and has been the subject of multiple clinical trials suggesting that it is an effective treatment for both conditions, in addition to containing beneficial chemicals that reduce inflammation, oxidation, and pain.


This plant contains:

  • Petasins, which reduce inflammation.

  • S-isopetasin, petatwalide B, and bakkenolide B, which widen blood vessels and decrease inflammation.

  • Flavonoids, which are antioxidants that decrease inflammation and fight bacterial infections and cancer.

  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are toxic to the liver and may cause cancer. These can be removed in the laboratory.

Mechanism of Action

The anti-inflammatory properties of butterbur are conferred mainly by molecules called petasins, which act to limit the body’s production of inflammatory molecules.

Butterbur may also relieve pain by decreasing the sensitivity of neurons. Isopetasin decreased the activity of the protein TRPA1, which is found on the surface of sensory neurons, decreasing neuron sensitivity and, thereby, pain.

Flavonoids from the leaves of Petasites japonicus activate:

  • Nrf2, which controls the production levels of many genes affecting the body’s response to free radical damage. After activation by the flavonoids in butterbur, Nrf2 activated the HO-1 pathway that produces several chemicals including biliverdin, which is a powerful antioxidant.

  • Heat-shock response transcriptional elements (HSE), that help coordinate the body’s response to stressors including sun damage. UV radiation can cause proteins to unfold and become nonfunctional. HSE activated by butterbur switches on the HSP70 pathway, which ensures proteins maintain their proper shapes.

Potential Health Benefits of Butterbur

Butterbur Relieves Migraines

The most common use of butterbur is for the relief and prevention of migraines and headaches.

Butterbur root extract is currently recommended for short-term use by both the Canadian Headache Society and the American Headache Society for short-term prevention and treatment of migraine headaches.

Butterbur Helps with Hay Fever and Seasonal Allergies

Multiple studies have shown that butterbur can help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.

In a survey of 580 people who took the extract for two weeks, 90% reported a reduction in seasonal allergy symptoms.

A study involving 186 patients with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) showed that butterbur extract decreased symptoms after just one we

Another study involving 20 individuals reported that after two weeks of treatment with butterbur extract, patients had improved recovery time upon allergen exposure.

Two studies with a combined total of 346 patients, showed that butterbur was as effective as Allegra and Zyrtec in reducing seasonal allergy symptoms. Both are antihistaminic drugs used to treat allergies.

Animal models showed that these effects are caused by a reduction in eosinophils (types of white blood cells) and leukotrienes in nasal tissue as well as a reduction in histamine, which contributes to the development of allergy symptoms.

Though the majority of studies have used the Petasites hybridus variety of butterbur, one study suggests that Petasites japonicus is also effective in treating seasonal allergies.

Despite a large amount of promising research, there is some conflicting evidence. In a study of 35 patients, butterbur failed to improve hay fever symptoms, conflicting with other reports.

Butterbur May Be Neuroprotective

Butterbur extracts (Petasites japonicusprevented the death of neurons in the brains of mice due to kainic acid, which mimics the effects of free radical damage to the brain. In addition to reducing neuron cell death, the mice also had fewer seizures.

Therefore, butterbur extract seems able to prevent free-radical damage.

In a cell-based study, butterbur extract protected human nerve cells from damage and death caused by reactive oxygen species.

Butterbur Is an Antioxidant

Although butterbur naturally contains molecules that cause liver damage, processed butterbur without these molecules actually increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the liver in mice.

Specifically, the enzymes which showed increased activity were glutathione reductase (GSR), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), glutathione S-transferase (GSTs), and quinone reductase (QR). These enzymes protect the liver from free radical damage.

The full unedited original post can be read on Self Hacked.