Using Butterbur to Reduce Frequency Of Migraine Episodes

Every migraineur wished that migraines will leave them forever. If only there is a permanent cure that will conquer all types of migraines. In reality, there is no cure for migraines. Since it cannot be eliminated, a reduction in the frequency of migraine episodes would be a welcomed improvement. As an alternative to synthetic pharmacologicals to reduce the migraine episodes, some herbs are used by migraineurs and are found to be effective.

The herb I am referring to is Petasites hybridus or more commonly known as Butterbur. This shrub can be found in Europe, northern Africa and also south-western Australia. It is known that people have used the root, bulb and even the leaves to make medicine for various illnesses. Here, what we are only interested in is its roots.

Several studies have shown that daily doses of extract of Butterbur root reduced the frequency of migraine episodes by approximately 50% in almost 80% of the participants.

Due to its nativity, Butterbur is more commonly used in Europe and Asia. In the last decade, however, American doctors started to conduct studies on the efficacy of Butterbur as a viable herbal preventive for migraine sufferers.

Two kinds of studies were conducted. One is the Double-blind experiment and the other is Placebo-controlled study.

In the Double-Blind experiment, both the individuals and the researchers are not informed whether they belong to the control group or the experimental group. They are informed only after all the recorded data have been analyzed.

A Placebo-controlled study works like this:

One group of subjects receives the treatment to be evaluated, in this case Butterbur. The second group which is a separate control group, receives a sham “placebo ” treatment which is specifically designed to have no real effect.

Commonly used together with the Double-Blind trial, both these experiments eliminates subjective bias as well as account for the placebo effect.

These studies conducted back in years 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 all confirmed Butterbur’s efficacy. Data collected and analyzed showed that participants’ migraine frequency reduced from 37% – 62% with almost no side effects. A small portion of both the herb and placebo groups reported that they experience a minor gastrointestinal upset.

Be aware that crude butterbur contains Pas (pyrrolizidine alkaloids)and PAs are known to be toxic to the human liver. Less than 0.01% concentration of alkaloids are found in the Butterbur root.

Most Butterbur treatment regimens recommend taking the supplement for a maximum of six months. One month separation is recommended before you take the next course of Butterbur treatment regimen.

A word of warning here: When choosing Butterbur, make sure the product is labelled PA-free.

Question now is: Should I add Butterbur to my current migraine treatment?

As always: A healthcare professional should always be included in the decision to add herbal products to any treatment regimen. Better be safe than sorry.