Part Used: Fresh rhizome
Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a large-leafed, shrub-like plant native to Europe. Extracts from the roots, leaves and stem of the Butterbur plant have been used to treat migraine headaches, stomach ulcers, infections and coughs, as well as allergies and asthma. During the 14th century, it was used to treat plague and fever. Butterbur has anti-inflammatory effects that decrease histamine and leukotrienes (chemicals involved in allergic reactions). Some Butterbur products are processed to reduce the amount of these toxins. It has been used as a herbal remedy at least since the middle ages and possibly much earlier. It was used to treat fevers and plague, and as an external poultice on wounds. Later it came to be used as a painkiller for stomach cramps and headaches and to treat chronic coughing and even asthma.
More recent scientific studies suggest that the Butterbur extracts have anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. Muscle spasms are associated with stomach cramps, coughs and some types of back pain, as well as migraine and tension headaches. For many centuries the Butterbur plant was traditionally used as a herbal remedy for conditions like pain, fever and spasms. Already the Greek physician Dioscurides used Butterbur leaves to treat skin ulcers. Today, it is mainly used for migraine prevention, but also for treating headaches and asthma. Pharmacologically active substances of Butterbur are sesquiterpenes like petasin and isopetasin. Preparations of the Butterbur plant have long been used as natural remedies for a variety of ailments, including fevers and headaches. In more recent times, scientific studies showed that specially prepared extracts were effective in treating migraine sufferers, reducing the occurrence and duration of attacks. Now, research by a Swiss team suggests that Butterbur extract may be as effective as antihistamines in the treatment of hay fever, while avoiding the drowsiness caused by those drugs.
Butterbur Research. http://www.butterburresearch.org/