Butterbur for Allergies
Butterbur is a daisy-like plant said to have medicinal properties, such as treating allergies. Studies have shown inconsistent results when using butterbur for allergies, but these inconsistencies may reflect differences in study design or differences among products. In general, the bulk of this preliminary evidence seems to suggest that butterbur might actually be effective for treating allergy symptoms.
Butterbur contains a variety of different active compounds, such as petasin, isopetasin, flavonoids, and tannins. These compounds are probably responsible for most of the medicinal properties of the plant. The supplement may work to treat allergies by decreasing the production of leukotrienes and histamine, two substances in the body that are responsible for many of the allergy symptoms.
It is important to note that 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), this substance should not be considered safe.
(Click Does Butterbur Work? for a complete overview of using butterbur for allergies. This article also discusses the product's effectiveness for other uses, as well as its potential use in children.)