How do I Use Butterbur for Migraines?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2020
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If you are interested in using butterbur for migraines, there are a few things to consider. Since it is a prophylactic, you will typically only want to take butterbur if you experience crippling migraines on a regular basis. The suggested criteria for taking prophylactic migraine medications include frequency of headaches, whether they are debilitating, and if you regularly take acute headache medications as a response. Another reason to take butterbur for migraines is if common acute medications are contraindicated due to adverse reactions or other factors.

To justify taking a prophylactic such as butterbur for migraines, you typically must experience attacks frequently. More than two migraines a month will often justify a preventative regimen of treatment. If you find yourself debilitated for more than three days a month, that can also indicate that you should be on a prophylactic. Another indicator is if migraines are interfering with your ability to go about daily life, which is a judgment that only you can make.


Butterbur is recommended for use as a prophylactic, so it typically must be taken on a regular basis regardless of whether a migraine is experienced. The substance may only begin to work fully after several months of regular dosages, so you typically can not take butterbur for migraines a few times and expect a positive result. If you find that your incidences of migraine have diminished after several months, you may consider reducing your intake of the substance. Butterbur is available both as a capsule and extract, so it is best to choose the method you are most comfortable taking.

The butterbur plant has been used for thousands of years in traditional herbal medicine, though it has only been refined for treating the symptoms of migraines recently. Some of the active components in the plant include sesquiterpenes such as petasin and isopetasin. The plant also includes various toxic substances, such as alkaloids that can cause damage to the liver. When taking butterbur for migraines, it is a good idea to verify whether such poisonous compounds have been removed from the medicine.

A number of studies have indicated that butterbur can effectively prevent migraines, and the extract may also reduce incidences of hay fever. In some studies, the best results of using butterbur for migraines have come from the most severe cases, where the individuals suffered from chronic, debilitating headaches. If you suffer from these types of recurring headaches, and take the time to verify the safety of the particular medicinal compound, then you may benefit from taking butterbur for migraines.


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