Butterbur and Pregnancy
Just because butterbur is a "natural" product, it should not be assumed that it is safe to take during pregnancy. Butterbur in its natural form contains toxic alkaloids that can damage the liver and the lungs, and may even increase the risk of cancer or birth defects. Even if these toxic alkaloids are removed, other components of the herb could cause problems during pregnancy.
Can I Take Butterbur During Pregnancy?Butterbur is a plant that is sometimes used as a dietary supplement for allergy treatment, migraine prevention, or a variety of other uses. Generally, this herb is not considered safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks (or lack thereof) are not known.
Natural butterbur contains toxic alkaloids that can damage the liver and the lungs. Unless these alkaloids are removed (as is done with some high-quality supplements), butterbur supplements should not be considered safe for anyone, especially pregnant women. Furthermore, the toxic alkaloids are thought to possibly increase the risk of cancer or even birth defects.
Some supplements have been purified to remove the toxic alkaloids, thus eliminating the associated risks to a pregnant woman and her fetus. However, other components of the herb may still cause problems during pregnancy. Until more information is known, even these purified butterbur supplements should not be considered safe for use during pregnancy.
It should never be assumed that natural products are automatically safe for pregnant women. This is a mistake many pregnant women make. Pregnancy often limits the prescription and non-prescription drugs that are available for a woman to take. As a result, pregnant women often seek safe alternatives, sometimes assuming that herbal supplements are always safe. This is simply not the case. Herbal supplements can be marketed in the United States without any evidence that they are safe (or even effective) for anyone, including pregnant women.