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What other names is Butterbur known by?

Blatterdock, Bog Rhubarb, Bogshorns, Butter Bur, Butter-Dock, Butterfly Dock, Capdockin, Chapelière, Common Butterbur, Contre-Peste, Exwort, Feuille de Pétasite, Flapperdock, Fleur de Pétasite, Grand Bonnet, Herbe à la Peste, Herbe aux Teigneux, Langwort, Pestwurz, Pétasite, Pétasite Hybride, Pétasite Officinal, Pétasite Vulgaire, Petasites, Petasites hybridus, Petasites officinalis, Petasites Vulgaris, Petasitidis Folium, Petasitidis Hybridus, Petasitidis Rhizoma, Plague Root, Purple Butterbur, Racine de Pétasite, Rhizome de Pétasite, Tussilago hybrida, Umbrella Leaves.

What is Butterbur?

Butterbur is a shrub that is found throughout Europe as well as mild parts of Asia. It also now grows in parts of the US. The name "butterbur" developed because the large leaves of the shrub are used to wrap butter during warm weather.

People take butterbur by mouth for pain, upset stomach, stomach ulcers, migraine and other headaches, ongoing cough, chills, anxiety, plague, fever, trouble sleeping (insomnia), whooping cough, asthma, a lung disease called chronic obstructive bronchitis, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), eczema, mental illnesses that cause symptoms in the body (somatoform disorders), and for irritable bladder and urinary tract spasms. Butterbur is also taken by mouth to stimulate the appetite.

Some people apply butterbur to the skin to improve wound healing.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Hay fever caused by grass pollen. Taking a specific butterbur leaf extract called Ze 339 (Tesalin, Zeller AG) seems to decrease nose discomfort in people with hay fever. Some evidence also suggests that this extract might be as effective as 10 mg daily of cetirizine (Zyrtec) or 180 mg daily of fexofenadine (Allegra). But this extract does not seem to improve airflow, nasal and eye symptoms, or quality of life when taken for 2 weeks.
  • Migraine headaches. Taking butterbur by mouth seems to prevent migraine headache. Using a specific extract from the butterbur root (Petadolex, Weber & Weber, GmbH & Co, Germany) over 16 weeks can reduce the number and severity of migraine headaches and the length of time they last. This butterbur extract seems to reduce the number of migraine headaches by almost half. Doses of at least 75 mg twice daily seem to be necessary for best results. Lower doses of 50 mg twice daily may not be effective in adults. There is also some evidence that this butterbur extract can decrease the frequency of migraine headaches in children aged 6-17 years.
  • Mental illnesses that cause physical pain (somatoform disorders). Research shows that taking a product called Ze185 that contains butterbur, valerian root, lemon balm leaf, and passionflower (Relaxane, Max Zeller Söhne AG, Switzerland) reduces anxiety and depression in people with physical pain.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Itchy and inflamed skin (eczema). Some research shows that taking butterbur extract (Petaforce, Bioforce Ltd, Irvine, UK) twice daily for one week does not reduce skin inflammation caused by allergies.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Asthma. Early research suggests that butterbur might be helpful for treating asthma and chronic bronchitis.
  • Chronic obstructive bronchitis. Early research suggests that butterbur might be helpful for treating chronic obstructive bronchitis.
  • Anxiety.
  • Chills.
  • Colic.
  • Cough.
  • Fever.
  • Insomnia.
  • Irritable bladder.
  • Pain.
  • Plague.
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Urinary tract spasms.
  • Wounds.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of butterbur for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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