- What Is Butterbur
- Benefits Of Butterbur
- Mechanisms Of Butterbur
- Who Should Avoid Supplementing With Butterbur
What Is Butterbur:
Butterbur, also known as petasites, is an extract formed from the roots of the butterbur bush. Butterbur has been used as a medicine for treating migraine headaches, allergic rhinitis, respiratory illnesses and alzheimer's disease †.
The butterbur bush itself contains a number of harmful pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the bush. These alkaloids can cause liver damage if consumed, but the process of extracting the butterbur if done properly removes these harmful plant toxins. Although its extremely important to get a high-quality sourcing of butterbur as certain commercial extracts have recently been found to cause damaging likely as a result of residual toxins remaining in the extracts. These harmful pyrrolizidine alkaloids can cause hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity), lung toxicity, carcinogenesis (promoting of cancer), and thrombosis (blood clotting).
Benefits Of Butterbur:
- Used To Treat Migraines † - Butterbur has been found to be an effective method of alleviating migraines and one study found that 48% of the individuals in the trial had reduced occurrence of migraines. The American Headache Society and American Academy of Neurology recommended butterbur as a grade A treatment for reducing both the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. The Canadian Headache Society also recommended butterbur as a means of treating migraine headaches. But the American Academy of Neurology has since retracted its recommendation of butterbur due to safety concerns, additionally neither Germany nor the UK officially recommend butterbur due to safety concerns.
- Used To Treat Asthma And Allergic Rhinitis †- In a number of asian countries butterbur is used to treat asthma and allergic reactions, but the body of evidence is limited and its less effective at treating these condition compared to its ability to treat migraines
- Used To Treat Alzheimer’s Disease † - A few in vitro and in vivo studies have found that butterbur may be used to treat Alzheimer's Disease, but there is currently no human studies on its effectiveness.
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Mechanisms Of Butterbur:
There are a number of proposed mechanisms by which butterbur is believed to exert its effects.
- Inhibits The Opening Of Calcium Channels - Butterbur has been shown to inhibit the opening of calcium channels decreasing the vasoconstriction (reduced blood flow) in surrounding blood vessels and preventing the excitation of neurons
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects - Butterbuy may react with the COX-2 enzymes decreasing the synthesis of the prostaglandins and leukotriene synthesis both of which can cause inflammation.
- Inhibition Of Nitric Oxide Synthase - Butterbur has been shown to decrease the amount of nitric oxide synthase activity, preventing excess nitric oxide from being produced
- Anti-Allergenic Effects - Butterbur has been found to inhibit the enzyme ß-hexosaminidase in a certain type of mast cells which can cause an inflammatory response.
- Antioxidant Effects - A few studies in mice have shown that butterbur acts as a free radical scavenger resulting in a significant reduction in the amount of reactive oxygen species. This is believed to be a result of the reduction in activity of the heme-oxygenase enzyme and CREB protein.
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Who Should Avoid Supplementing With Butterbur:
Butterbur is contraindicated in people that are currently taking anticholinergic drugs. The safety of butterbur has also not been assessed for those under the age of 6 or pregnant or lactating women.
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