Butterbur (Petasites hybridus), also known as bladderdock and plague weed, is a creeping plant belonging to the sunflower family of plants. The flowers of butterbur come in white, pink or green color. For centuries, its stems, leaves, and root have been used to alleviate spasms and pain, break fevers, promote brain health, provide relief for asthma, clear the respiratory tracts, treat headaches, improve heart health, lower inflammation, and prevent allergic reactions.
Butterbur is available in various forms, including as tea, powder, capsule, and tincture.
Health Benefits of Butterbur
Now, let’s take an in-depth look at the health benefits butterbur offers.
Alleviates Spasms and Pain
It can be challenging to move, sit or walk when spasms and pain strike. However, similar to ibuprofen or other conventional Painkillers, natural remedies like butterbur can often help alleviate pain. Research shows that butterbur contains anti-spasmodic and analgesic abilities that can help relieve pain as well as boost overall health.
A doctor or herb expert may recommend butterbur for severe pain, tremors, injuries, irritable bowel syndrome. People who have these health conditions are, however, advised to take butterbur in the appropriate dosage.
It is advisable to let a fever run its course, especially as most fevers are harmless. However, there is a cause for concern when a person is dehydrated, has a compromised immune system, or experiences difficulty breathing. Luckily, butterbur supports immune function and has the extra benefit of breaking fevers.
Promotes Brain Health
Some studies suggest that butterbur can protect the brain against oxidative damage caused by the accumulation of free radicals. Thankfully, butterbur possesses a plant compound known as kaempferol which has been touted to help inhibit oxidative damage to the brain and promote brain health. Kaempferol also protects the brain against degenerative problems of the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss.
Provides Relief for Asthma
Asthma is often triggered when the flow of air in the lungs is obstructed. Some of the causes of asthma include respiratory infections, certain medications, allergies, and unfavorable weather conditions. Butterbur is one herb that can effectively relieve and reduce asthma attacks. The extract of butterbur treats asthma by opening up the nasal cavity to ease breathing. With its positive anti-inflammatory abilities, butterbur can stimulate the distribution of air in the lungs.
Clears the Respiratory Tracts
When there is excess mucus in the chest, it can result in symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose, sleep irregularities, nagging cough, cold, chest congestion, and wheezing. Chest congestions are commonly caused by certain lung conditions, allergies, acid reflux, allergies, bacterial infections, viral infections, and bronchitis. To loosen mucus and remove phlegm from the respiratory tract, butterbur is one herb that has proven to be effective.
Most conventional drugs for chest congestion tend to make one sleepy and inactive but natural alternatives like butterbur are believed to provide better relief.
In addition to other remedies, butterbur is a great one for relieving a headache or migraine. Inflammation often causes headaches but as a herb with anti-inflammatory properties, butterbur is recommended for headache and migraine sufferers.
To avoid the prolonged use of conventional medications for headaches, butterbur is actually worth a try. Butterbur can be taken in its tea, tincture, or powder forms to treat headaches.
Improves Heart Health
If you desire to boost your heart health without a prescription drug, then butterbur is your go-to herb. It is a natural alternative for lowering blood pressure, reducing the accumulation of plaque in the arteries, and keeping cholesterol levels in check. The kaempferol in butterbur can help lower cholesterol levels, reduce weight, and prevent oxidative stress. Studies have shown that butterbur supplementation can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
However, if you are considering trying butterbur for cardiovascular health, it is important to check with your doctor first.
Inflammation occurs when white blood cells protect wounds and injuries against contamination. Inflammation is the body’s natural defense against infections and illnesses but when in excess, it can lead to a number of serious health issues, including arthritis, obesity, depression, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Fortunately, research shows that people who used butterbur had lower levels of inflammatory negative effects compared to those who didn’t use the herb.
Butterbur is packed with beneficial properties that help reduce inflammation. In addition to exercise, diet, and lifestyle upgrades, incorporating butterbur into your routine can help lower and prevent inflammation.
Prevents Allergic Reactions
Allergies are caused by instability in the immune system that triggers a rather strong reaction of the body to a stimulus. In fact, seasonal allergies are often triggered by otherwise harmless factors like air pollution, pollen, specific foods, insect bites, and animal dander. Allergic reactions may present symptoms like the secretion of mucus, blockage of bronchial tubes, asthma, nausea, hay fever, itchy eyes, eczema, sneezing, and extreme tiredness.
Typically, corticosteroid or antihistamines are conventional medications for allergies but unfortunately, they have unpleasant side effects. While there may not be enough scientific evidence to determine butterbur’s effect on allergic reactions, there appears to be a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who have tried the herb for allergies. The belief is that consuming butterbur can help the body get used to the allergens in its surroundings.
Butterbur is a natural antihistamine that prevents the body from producing and releasing histamine. The herb does this by nourishing the liver and soothing inflammation. However, before taking butterbur tea, capsule or powder, you should discuss with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or suffer from a liver disorder.
Side Effects of Butterbur
While butterbur may be valued for its impressive range of health benefits, the safety of its prolonged use has not been ascertained.
- The herb is well-tolerated but has some side effects, including liver toxicity, cancer, and other serious illnesses. You should not consume butterbur in any unprocessed form.
- Butterbur can result in other side effects such as fatigue, dizziness, troubled breathing, dry eyes, and belching.
- Certain species of butterbur contain a high concentration of alkaloids in the rhizomes and can be very harmful if consumed in excess. This is why butterbur should be bought from a reliable herbal store.
- Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are advised to avoid the use of butterbur supplement as it can lead to miscarriage.
- Since butterbur belongs to the ragweed plant family, individuals who are allergic to ragweed, daisies, marigolds, or chrysanthemums should steer clear of the herb.
- It is advisable to ascertain if the herb might interact with any conventional medication you are taking or if it could have a harmful effect on the condition you suffering from.
- You should only use butterbur supplements labeled as free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids or PAs. This is because PAs can cause serious harm to the liver.
As with all herbs and supplements, you should first consult with your doctor before using butterbur for treating any health problem.
Butterbur has positive reviews as it has the ability to relieve asthma, treat headaches, improve heart health, promote brain health, lower inflammation, reduce fevers, prevent allergies, alleviate pain, and clear the respiratory tracts.
However, you should discontinue the herb and consult your doctor if you experience side effects like diarrhea, headaches, drowsiness, exhaustion, belching, liver toxicity, and itchy eyes.