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Butterbur Extract - Topic Overview

What is butterbur?

Butterbur extract, from the root of the butterbur shrub, was originally used in Europe in the Middle Ages to treat plague and fevers. Although we don't completely understand the benefits of butterbur, people frequently use it to treat coughs, asthma, headaches, and stomach ulcers. The scientific name for butterbur is Petasites hybridus.

What is butterbur used for?

People commonly use butterbur to treat coughs, asthma, hay fever, and stomach ulcers. Butterbur extract may prevent migraine headaches.1 Doctors do not know exactly how butterbur prevents migraines.

Butterbur is considered a dietary supplement in the United States and is available under the brand name Petadolex.

Is butterbur safe?

When used properly, butterbur extract is safe and well-tolerated. But it is not safe to use all formulas of butterbur extract, since the plant contains cancer-causing substances. Make sure you only use butterbur that has had the cancer-causing ingredients removed. Talk to your doctor before you take butterbur, and ask him or her to examine the specific brand you intend to use.

Side effects may include mild upset stomach and gas. Experts do not recommend butterbur extract for young children or women who are pregnant or nursing.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 11, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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