Butterbur: A Potent Herbal Remedy for the Prevention of Migraines

Young-Woman-with-HeadacheIf you’ve ever had a migraine, you know the sorrow they can bring. Between the horrible throbbing, the flashing or bright spots, sensitivity to light and sound, or the feeling that if you move one inch life as you know it will be over, there’s no way to miss a migraine. Migraines have more distinct and intense symptoms from regular headaches and for some people can last up to 72 hours. Sometimes migraines are also accompanied by dizziness, nausea, and or vomiting. All of these unsavory symptoms, leave those who suffer from regular migraines actively searching for medications or therapies that work. What most people don’t know, is that sometimes migraines are caused by the every medications intended to relieve them. Migraines can also be triggers by food additives, hormonal imbalance, alcohol, thyroid imbalance, stress, hypoglycemia, food allergies, and more, (Lipski, 2018). There are are myriad of reasons why someone can get a migraine, and for each individual diet, environment, toxins, health conditions and more would need to be assessed to find the triggers and underlying cause.

One amazing natural remedy that has been proven by research to be effective in preventing migraines is butterbur (Petasites hybridus), also known as blatterdock, bog rhubarb, bogshorns, butterdock, and pestwurz, (Sutherland, A. et al, 2010). Butterbur has been used for centuries to address a range of conditions. In the Middle Ages it was used to treat fever and bubonic plague, and later was used for cough, asthma, lung disease, seasonal allergies, lung diseases, urogenital tract spasms, aches and pains, dysmenorrhea, and gastrointestinal afflictions, (Sutherland, A. et al, 2010). Because butterbur is anti-inflammatory, vasodilatory (meaning it widens the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure), antispasmodic (contains ingredients that can cause smooth muscles to relax), it is ideal for migraine prevention.

One study, conducted in Germany involved 60 patients, and 33 took 50 mg standard butterbur extract twice daily. After eight weeks the patients taking butterbur had a 61% decrease in the occurrence of their migraines, (Platt, 2008). Another study conducted on 108 children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 17 administered 50-150 mg of butterbur daily for four months, and 77% of patients who took the extract reported the frequency of their migraines decreased by 50%, (Platt, 2008). Thus butterbur has been proven safe for both adults and children in the prevention of migraines. However, it’s important that the butterbur used is commercially processed. Raw, unprocessed butterbur actually contains harmful pyrrolizidine alkaloids when have been shown to cause chemical-driven liver damage in humans, (Sutherland, A. et al, 2010). For migraine prevention in adults butterbur extract can be taken 50-75 mg twice daily, and for pediatric use, 50-150 mg daily, (Sutherland, A. et al, 2010).

In addition to butterbur, there are other therapies, nutrients, or supplements proven by research to  be helpful in the treatment of migraines. Some of these include: aerobic exercise, relaxation training, acupuncture, cognitive therapy, biofeedback, and supplementation with with Coenzyme Q10 or riboflavin (B2), (Lipski, 2018). A migraine is not a disease; it’s important to recognize that it is a process that could have multiple triggers and could be complex, or very simple, (Lipski, 2018). Keeping this in mind, just as with any other health condition, it’s really important to have a health practitioner look holistically at your life to truly determine your potential triggers, and how best to create a tailored approach to prevention of migraines. – XO Raw Girl 


Lipski, L., PhD. (n.d.). Nutr 636: Migraine Headaches; Asthma of the Brain. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from https://learn.muih.edu/courses/6181/pages/module-1-migraine-headaches?module_item_id=164916

Neustadt, J., Oliff, H. S., & Blumenthal, M. (2005). Butterbur Extract Effective for Preventing Migraines in Adults and Children. Herbalgram, (67), 28-30.

Platt, C. (2008). PREVENTING MIGRAINE PAIN with BUTTERBUR. (cover story). Life Extension, 14(8), 82-90.

Sutherland, A., & Sweet, B. V. (2010). Butterbur: An alternative therapy for migraine prevention. American Journal Of Health-System Pharmacy, 67(9), 705-711. doi:10.2146/ajhp090136


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