Herb Helps Migraine: Butterbur found to be effective preventative

People who suffer migraine headaches may have an alternative to prescription drugs and painkillers, report a team of international scientists. They evaluated the effectiveness of a standardized root extract from the butterbur plant (Petasites hybridus) as a preventive therapy for migraine.

Their 4-month randomized trial compared butterbur extract at 75 mg twice per day, 50 mg twice per day or a placebo in 245 patients with migraine, aged 18 to 65, who suffered at least two to six attacks per month.

They found that migraine attack frequency was reduced by almost half (48%) in those taking the higher dose of buttterbur compared with a reduction of 28% in the placebo group during the 16-week trial. The 50 mg dose did not produce results significantly different than placebo. The most frequently reported adverse reactions considered possibly related to treatment were mild gastrointestinal events, predominantly burping.

“People who need a preventive medication – those who are having three or more days of headaches that interfere with their lives per month – should consider taking a preventive medication,” said lead investigator Dr Richard B. Lipton.

“Many of those people don’t like the idea of taking a prescription medication every day, and for them, [butterbur] is an excellent alternative that now has a firm base of scientific support,” he said.

Neurology 2004;63:2240-2244