Butterbur, also known by its botanical name Petasites hybridus, or as ‘plague flower', is a genus of the plant family Asteraceae. In the past, people used the plant's rhizome and large leaves to wrap pats of butter to protect them from the heat – which is how it came to be called butterbur. It's many benefits make it a unique aid for treating a range of health problems, that are often unresponsive to standard medications, which themselves are likely to produce numerous side-effects.
For maximum efficacy, look for nutritional supplements that contain extracts with around 15% active ingredients (petasin and isopetasin) and that are above all free from unwanted compounds such as pyrrolizidine alkaloids. It is vital these compounds are removed during the manufacturing process. It should also be noted that the average active dose is 25mg (twice a day), for a standardized extract containing 7.5mg petasin.
As with so many medicinal plants, butterbur has a long tradition of use, supported by empirical observation and experience. In the 17th century, it was used primarily to treat coughs and asthma. Recognized for its antispasmodic and analgesic properties, butterbur was found in the 1950s to have anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy properties too. Indeed it was given out free to treat migraine, allergic rhinitis and hay fever. The Swiss company Zeller capitalized on its benefits, marketing it as ‘Tesalin', a product made from the plant's leaves:
Based on this data alone, butterbur would merit reconsideration, but clinical studies have also identified an important new property for the plant: it is able to treat spasms in the urinary tract caused by stones and problems with bladder spasms. Butterbur also reduces urgency and frequency of urination, while relaxing the smooth muscle of the bladder by inhibiting synthesis of a type of lipid called leukotrienes.
|Daily dose: 2 capsules
Number of doses per pack: 30
|Extract of Petasites hybridus standardised to 15% sesquiterpenes lactones||100 mg|
|Other ingredients: Acacia gum, rice flour.|