7 Surprising Benefits of Butterbur

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Some of the most impressive health benefits include its ability to reduce fevers, prevent and treat migraines, eliminate spasms, soothe pain, calm allergic reactions, lower inflammation, and clear out the respiratory tracts.

What is Butterbur?

Butterbur is the common name of a creeping ground plant that has its own genus, Petasites. Although related to sunflowers, they have a very different structure and a unique combination of chemicals that make the plant highly sought after. From the rhizomes, leaves, and stems of this plant, certain alkaloids and other chemical compounds can be extracted, which can be used for a wide variety of health conditions. It has been used for more than two millennia and can be found on three continents, including Europe, North America, and various parts of northern Asia. Traditionally, the stems and leaves were frequently used, as the rhizome has such a concentration of alkaloids that unless properly prepared, it can be toxic. For this reason, it is wise to be very careful where you get your butterbur herbal extracts, as careful preparation is essential. [1]

If you are going to prepare the root of the plant, be sure to boil a small part of the root in water and then allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. At that point, you can drink the concoction. The sprouts, leaves, and stems can have the extract removed directly and are much safer to use for a butterbur tea. However, given the wide availability of certified distributors of butterbur extract, it is a much better choice to avoid traditional preparations; different species of butterbur have different concentrations of chemicals and must be prepared in special ways. Now, let’s take an in-depth look at its health benefits. [2]

Nutrition Facts

Butterbur, (fuki), raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]94.5
Energy 14
Energy [kJ]59
Protein [g]0.39
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.04
Ash [g]1.46
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]3.61
Calcium, Ca [mg]103
Iron, Fe [mg]0.1
Magnesium, Mg [mg]14
Phosphorus, P [mg]12
Potassium, K [mg]655
Sodium, Na [mg]7
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.16
Copper, Cu [mg]0.1
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.27
Selenium, Se [µg]0.9
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]31.5
Thiamin [mg]0.02
Riboflavin [mg]0.02
Niacin [mg]0.2
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.03
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.1
Folate, total [µg]10
Folate, food [µg]10
Folate, DFE [µg]10
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]3
Vitamin A, IU [IU]50
Sources include : USDA [3]

Health Benefits of Butterbur

Health benefits of butterbur includes:

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Perhaps the most important single effect that butterbur has on the system it an almost immediate reduction in inflammation. One of the most dangerous things in our body is inflammation, particularly a chronic issue that wears down your body gradually. If you suffer from arthritis, gout, or even heart conditions, a powerful anti-inflammatory treatment like butterbur can be a painless and quick way to get relief and improve your long-term health. [4]

Common Cold

One of the other descriptions of butterbur is expectorant, as it can stimulate the expulsion of mucus and phlegm from the respiratory tracts and the nasal cavities. Mucus and phlegm are ideal places for bacteria to lodge and cultivate, so eliminating these hot spots for illness can speed the healing process if you are ill and prevent you from becoming ill if you’re healthy! [5]

Allergic Reactions

For some people, allergic reactions can be very severe. Even a few minutes outside can bring on severe sneezing, dry itchy eyes, and a variety of other symptoms. These physical signs are the result of histamines released in our body when we encounter a certain substance, even if it is harmless. Butterbur is an antihistamine substance, so it can naturally prevent allergic reactions, or at least reduce their severity significantly. [6]


The most popular common use of butterbur is in the treatment of headaches and migraines. Particularly for migraines, it is relied on all around the world, in extract and natural form. Petasin and isopetasin are two chemical compounds directly linked to reducing the severity, duration, and symptoms of a migraine, and these two powerful chemicals are found in some species of butterbur. For this reason, always talk to your herbalist of health professional and ensure that you are getting the proper its variety to treat migraines. [7]

Reduce Fevers

In traditional use, small amounts of butterbur were used to break fevers, thereby speeding the healing process after an illness. Again, this is due to the anti-inflammatory nature of the herb, but it also factors in as a powerful immune system booster, due to its role in illness treatment. [8]

Spasms and Pain

Butterbur also has certain anti-spasmodic and analgesic properties that don’t often get enough attention. If you have tremors, irritable bowels, chronic pain, or are recovering from an illness or injury, small amounts of butterbur extract can help to clear up those conditions rapidly, if used in appropriate amounts. [9]

A Final Word of Warning

The reason it is so important that you get butterbur from a trusted herbal manufacturer is that the high concentration of alkaloids in the rhizomes of certain species can be extremely dangerous if consumed, leading to cancer, liver failure, and other very serious side effects. Therefore, always seek out professional guidance before purchasing or adding butterbur to your general health regimen.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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