Some butterbur products may contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), and that’s the major safety concern.
PAs can damage the liver, lungs, and blood circulation, and possibly cause cancer. Butterbur products that contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are UNSAFE when taken by mouth or applied to broken skin. Broken skin allows chemicals to be absorbed into the body. Do not use butterbur products unless they are certified and labeled as free of PAs.
Short-term treatment with Butterbur
PA-free butterbur products are considered POSSIBLY SAFE when taken short-term, by mouth appropriately. PA-free root extracts seem to be safe when used for up to 16 weeks in adults. There is some evidence that a specific PA-free butterbur extract (Petadolex, Weber&Weber, GmbH & Co, Germany) can be safely used in children who are 6-17 years old for up to 4 months.
Not enough is known about the safety of using PA-free butterbur products on unbroken skin. Don’t use it.
PA-free butterbur is generally well tolerated. It can cause belching, headache, itchy eyes, diarrhea, asthma, upset stomach, fatigue, and drowsiness. However, it seems to cause less drowsiness and fatigue than cetirizine (Zyrtec). Butterbur products might cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and other related herbs.
So please consult your doctor before taking Butterbur for migraine treatment.
RESOURCE LINKS BUTTERBUR
NEUROLOGY TIMES – JANUARY 28, 2015 “Migrane Preventative Buterbur Has Safety Concerns”
“…Despite butterbur’s potential efficacy, doubts are increasing about the long-term safety of this supplement given of the risk of liver damage and the lack of an actively regulated preparation. Due to the mounting concerns, the American Headache Society is currently evaluating a position statement cautioning against its use.”
Taking a Closer Look at the Herbal Remedy, Butterbur
May 13, 2014 Alex Mauskop, MD