The Butterbur herb, also known as butterfly dock, bog rhubarb, and blatterdock, has been used for medicinal purposes since the fourteenth century. The perennial butterbur plant is small with large, rhubarblike leaves and spiky flowers, and has a large rhizome, or root, which is used in herbal preparations to treat asthma.
While butterbur has been studied extensively as a treatment for allergies because of its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties, less research exists on its role as a migraine treatment. Most studies involve an extract of the butterbur root taken in tablet form, known commercially as Petadolex. While more well-designed studies of the herb are needed, existing studies indicate that butterbur pills have some efficacy as a migraine preventative.
Just like magnesium migraine relief, butterbur for migraines works to reduce migraine pain nutritionally.
Like feverfew, butterbur is related to ragweed and can cause an allergic reaction in anyone with an existing ragweed allergy. The herb has not been studied extensively enough to document all potential side effects, but those that have been reported in conjunction with clinical trials include nausea, belching, and other mild digestive complaints in twenty-five percent of the people under study. However, it must be noted that the occurrence of side effects were considered low in clinical trials.
A 2005 German study of over 100 children and adolescents studied the effectiveness and safety of butterbur for treating migraines. Researchers found that daily supplementation with butterbur extract over a period of four months cut the frequency of migraine attacks in half of 77 percent of patients. Doses of 50 to 70 mg twice daily have been shown to reduce headaches by up to one-half after 3 months. Children may use 25 mg twice daily.