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Butterbur Warning

Please consider the following prior to taking Butterbur for migraine treatment.

The butterbur plant (Petasites hybridus) has known toxic ingredients, which are known carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals), hepatotoxic substances ( cause liver damage) and teratogens (which cause birth defects)

Some butterbur products may contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), and that’s the major safety concern.

PAs can damage the liver, lungs, and blood circulation, and possibly cause cancer. Butterbur products that contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are UNSAFE when taken by mouth or applied to broken skin. Broken skin allows chemicals to be absorbed into the body. Do not use butterbur products unless they are certified and labeled as free of PAs.

Read More - WebMD - Butterbur

Short-term treatment with Butterbur

PA-free butterbur products are considered POSSIBLY SAFE  when taken short-term, by mouth appropriately. PA-free root extracts seem to be safe when used for up to 16 weeks in adults. There is some evidence that a specific PA-free butterbur extract (Petadolex, Weber & Weber, GmbH & Co, Germany) can be safely used in children who are 6-17 years old for up to 4 months.

Not enough is known about the safety of using PA-free butterbur products on unbroken skin. Don’t use it.


PA-free butterbur is generally well tolerated.

Butterbur can cause the following:

  • Acute Hepatitis

  • Asthma

  • Belching

  • Constipation

  • Depression or neurological disorders

  • Diarrhea

  • Difficulty breathing or exhaling

  • Discolored stool

  • Drowsiness

  • Fatigue

  • Hair Loss

  • Halitosis, bad breath

  • Headache

  • Itchy eyes

  • Skin or eye discoloration

  • Skin and allergic reactions

  • Upset Stomach

  • Butterbur products might cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and other related herbs.

  • A condition called reversible cholestatic hepatitis - bile cannot flow properly from the liver due to swelling or blockage.

  • Possibly increase liver enzymes

So please consult your doctor before taking Butterbur for migraine treatment.


“…Despite butterbur’s potential efficacy, doubts are increasing about the long-term safety of this supplement given of the risk of liver damage and the lack of an actively regulated preparation. Due to the mounting concerns, the American Headache Society is currently evaluating a position statement cautioning against its use.”

Note Precautions When Using Feverfew

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

Side effects from feverfew can include abdominal pain, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and nervousness. Some people who chew raw feverfew leaves may have mouth sores, loss of taste, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and mouth.

Rarely, allergic reactions to feverfew have been reported. People with allergies to chamomile, ragweed, or yarrow may be allergic to feverfew and should not take it.

Feverfew may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you take blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin. Ask your doctor before taking feverfew if you take blood thinners.

Pregnant and nursing women, as well as children under 2, should not take feverfew.

If you are scheduled for surgery, tell your doctor if you are taking feverfew. It may interact with anesthesia.

DO NOT abruptly stop taking feverfew if you have used it for more than 1 week. Stopping feverfew too quickly may cause rebound headache, anxiety, fatigue, muscle stiffness, and joint pain.

- Feverfew. (n.d.). University of Mayrland Medical Center, Retrieved October 14, 2016, from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/feverfew