Butterbur contains several different active compounds that may have medicinal properties. Some of the possible benefits of butterbur include preventing migraines, treating conditions such as allergies and asthma, and stimulating the appetite. Natural butterbur contains toxic alkaloids that can damage the liver and the lungs. Unless these alkaloids are removed (which occurs with most high-quality supplements), this substance should not be considered safe for anyone, especially children.
When used as an herbal supplement, butterbur is claimed to be useful for a variety of different purposes. Some of the benefits butterbur supposedly provides include:
- Preventing or treating migraines
- Treating the following conditions:
- Promoting wound healing (when applied to the skin)
- Stimulating the appetite
- Decreasing spasms (such as spasms in the bladder or digestive tract).
Some of these claims are more legitimate than others, although much more research is necessary to confirm that butterbur is truly beneficial for any use (see Does Butterbur Work?).
Butterbur contains a variety of different active compounds, such as petasin, isopetasin, flavonoids, and tannins. It is thought that these compounds are probably responsible for most of the medicinal properties of the plant.
Butterbur may be beneficial for people with allergies by decreasing the production of leukotrienes and histamine, two substances in the body that are responsible for many of the symptoms of allergies. It is not yet clear how the supplement might work to prevent migraine headaches.