May 28, 2016

Butterbur

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How does Butterbur work?

Butterbur contains chemicals that might relieve spasms and decrease swelling (inflammation).

Are there safety concerns?

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.

PA-free butterbur products are POSSIBLY SAFE for adults and children when taken 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.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking butterbur by mouth is LIKELY UNSAFE. Butterbur preparations containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) might cause birth defects and liver damage. Not enough is known about the safety of using butterbur products that do not contain PAs during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Don't use it.

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Butterbur may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking butterbur.

Liver disease: There is some concern that butterbur might make liver disease worse. Don't take it.


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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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