Butterbur for Headaches
Butterbur is a daisy-like plant said to have medicinal properties, including preventing and treating migraine headaches. There is a fair amount of scientific evidence suggesting that butterbur may work for preventing migraine headaches in adults. The studies used one particular butterbur product (Petadolex®) that was purified to remove toxic alkaloids naturally found in butterbur and standardized to contain a consistent amount of the active components. Early evidence suggests that this particular product may also be effective for preventing migraine headaches in children as young as six years old.
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. It is important to note, however, that natural butterbur also 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 headaches. This article also discusses the effectiveness of the supplement for other uses, as well as its effectiveness in children.)