Serious Concerns about Butterbur

Safety concerns are changing opinions about using Butterbur as a migraine treatment.

Butterbur recently rose to become one of the best preventative treatments for migraine.  

But the recommendation was always given with a caution.  Be careful – very careful – about what butterbur product you buy.  Butterbur contains toxic compounds known as alkaloids, which may damage your liver or even cause cancer.

Now the toxic elements can be removed – and they were.  The product was manufactured in Germany and it underwent very strict testing to ensure that the dangerous compounds had been totally removed.

However, according to a recent report from the New York Headache Center, the manufacturer changed the process of manufacture and did not repeat all the safety procedures.  So they believe that the risk is now too high.  From the center’s blog:

We no longer recommend butterbur to our patients. … Germany is no longer allowing butterbur to be sold there because the manufacturer changed its purification process and did not repeat all of the required safety studies.  Butterbur made in Germany and in the US is still sold in the US, but our FDA does not regulate herbal products and does not require the extensive safety tests that are required in Germany.  This is why we no longer recommend butterbur for our patients.

For the time being, you’re probably better off to try other treatments until this mess gets sorted out.  Other excellent and well-researched supplements include things like magnesium, feverfew, coenzyme Q10.

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5 comments… add one
  • James, which butterbur product would you recommend? I’m male, 34 years old and have bad migraine since 4 years. I’m totally desperate and thankful for every hint. Thanks, Ryan.

  • James Aug 4, 2012

    Hey Ryan,

    Here’s some information about some of the treatments that have recently been recommended, including a brand of butterbur:
    http://headacheandmigrainenews.com/from-current-studies-what-migraine-treatments-work/

    With so many options, though, if I were you I would try something else for the time being. I have a feeling, especially that if we make enough noise about it, that the safety testing for butterbur will be put back in place eventually. If this manufacturer doesn’t do it, someone else will.

  • LA Aug 21, 2012

    Butterbur is the only thing that even somewhat works for me. No other treatment has even phased my migraines. Many made them worse in fact. Especially the pharmecueticals. Without it, I’m not sure what to do. I have daily chronic headache syndrome and was haing migraines 4 times a week. Now I have one a week.

  • Merle Sep 3, 2012

    I have had migraines for 20 years. The older I get, the more triggers.
    I get Botox injected every 9weeks. I’d be lost w/o it. Preventively I take flexeril daily. When I feel one coming on I take an axert and 1/2 vicodin and can usually catch it unless I awake with one.
    Botox helps with the intensity but not the frequency. I get 4-5 x a week. No alcohol, grass,Beef jerky. Chewing that stuff is a trigger.
    Laughing too hard and sneezing are triggers. I’ve tried giving up chocolate, and now cheese, my favorite daily food. Started butter bur.
    When I’m done with the butter bur in a month, I’ll wait. If headaches return I’ll know it is helping. I am desperate. I have gone to specialists in NYC, tried very kind of med, acupuncture, meditation . I just heard about the butter bur and now I’m worried!

  • Aurora Nov 25, 2012

    A friend recommended butterbur to me, I said i will try but had my reservations. I have started taking Magnesium with feverfew (Solaray) in August this year. I can say that it reduced the intensity of headaches during those “hormonal” days. But it cannot prevent the headaches caused by the atmospheric pressure.

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