Butterbur: medicinal plant with a long tradition
Butterbur is a medicinal plant with a long history. Even the Romans used the plant to treat malignant ulcers. Then, in the Middle Ages, its effectiveness against the plague was attributed to it. Its current name comes from this period, without it ever being shown to have any effect against Yersinia pestis. Despite all this, today it is an important medicinal plant in the repertoire of phytotherapy and has its permanent place. However, its current range of applications no longer has much in common with the historical one.
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What is butterbur?
Butterbur is a plant that grows up to 60cm high and is best found on riverbanks. It loves moist soils and can handle floods very well. In spring, a solitary stem with flowers first grows skyward until the huge leaves follow. The leaves of the butterbur are up to 60cm in diameter and in large butterbur groups they cover whole areas with their canopy. The undersides of the leaves are gray and felt-like hairy and look very similar to rhubarb. Therefore, the butterbur is also called 'wild rhubarb', but unlike the latter, petasites is not suitable for consumption.
General and medicinal properties of butterbur
Promotes blood circulation
Petasites officinalis: Ingredients
Butterbur contains, among other things, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are suspected of being carcinogenic. In finished medicines, these are removed. Therefore, it is advisable to use only finished medicines.
You can find the following ingredients in butterbur:
Butterbur: effect for body and mind
Petasites is used nowadays mainly for its effect on smooth muscles and its associated analgesic effect. It thus has an influence on the internal hollow organs, blood vessels and muscles. Its relaxing effect also acts on the autonomic nervous system, which is why it is often used in cases of cardiac insufficiency and to calm down in order to reduce the effects of stress and tension. In some countries, ready-made medicines against hay fever are sold in which Petastites is contained. Their effectiveness here is said to be comparable to synthetic antihistamines. Only its eponymous use in plague must be rejected today. The Bachpestwurz has no demonstrable effect on infections with the Pesterreger and plays as a means of infection today no longer a role.
Fields of application in naturopathy
Butterbur has a wide range of issues to consider using it for, due in part to its central effectiveness.
Butterbur for inflammation
Due to its combination of active ingredients, butterbur has a good potential against inflammation. Especially in the case of allergic inflammations, it was found that it intervenes at an earlier stage of the inflammatory reaction than ordinary antihistamines with comparable potency. The advantage of butterbur is that it does not cause the usual side effects of antihistamines, such as fatigue.
Petasites for hay fever
Butterbur has been proven to decongest swollen mucous membranes. Affected hay fever patients can thus breathe normally again more quickly and do not suffer from hay fever. The effect of butterbur is on the level of known antihistamines, but without their side effects.
Butterbur for allergies
Allergies and allergic reactions are often accompanied by swelling of the mucous membranes. This can be the nasal mucosa, but also the pharyngeal and bronchial mucosa in the context of asthma. Butterbur influences the blood flow in the vessels and regulates it to a normal level. Especially in inflammatory and allergic reactions, the blood vessels are widened and the mucous membrane grows as a result. However, if the blood circulation is normalized again, the mucous membrane also swells again and the allergic reaction subsides.
Butterbur as a muscle relaxant
The brook butterbur has a proven effect on smooth muscles. It relaxes them and gives them back looseness. Much used this effect to counteract spasms of the smooth muscles of the hollow organs such as the gall bladder, uterus and kidney-bladder tract. Butterbur is often a component of complex remedies that are supposed to have a spasmolytic effect on these areas.
Butterbur: effect on headaches & migraines
Muscular problems very often play a causal role in the development of headaches and migraines. However, cramps and inflammatory irritations of the blood vessels also play a role. Butterbur now influences the skeletal muscles and the muscles of the blood vessels, relaxes them and thus ensures that the complaints disappear. The pull of the neck muscles on the skull subsides and the relaxed blood vessels can again ensure normal blood circulation.
Butterbur for urinary tract problems
Many people suffer from spasms of the urogenital tract. This can affect the kidney itself, the ureters, but also the bladder. This is caused by the portions of smooth muscle in these organs that can contract and spasm. Smooth muscle spasms do not happen frequently however are very painful. Petasites has a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles so that they can let go and the pain disappears.
Butterbur for cramps of the digestive organs
The digestive organs are also partially equipped with smooth muscle, which, when it spasms, can reduce its length to 1/3 of the original length. The result is massive pain as described, for example, in biliary spasms. Petasites has a relaxing effect on these muscles and ensures that the muscles let go again and the cramps pass.
Petasites for asthma
In asthma, two major factors have an impact. One is that the mucous membranes swell and the mucus obstructs the airways in a way that makes breathing difficult. However, another factor is that the bronchial micromuscles often spasm in asthmatics. As a result, the bronchial passages become narrowed, air cannot pass through cleanly, and breathing becomes difficult. Butterbur ensures that the spasms of the bronchial muscles subside, allowing air to flow through the airways again.
Notes on the use of butterbur
Butterbur should only be taken in the form of finished medicinal products. Only here can it be ensured that the pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been largely extracted. The intake is based on the manufacturer's recommendation. As a rule, it is a cure-like application of 3 times daily intake for a few weeks to months.
Butterbur during pregnancy & lactation
Due to its influence on blood circulation and muscle tone, butterbur should not be taken during pregnancy and lactation. There is too little information available to assess this with certainty.
Petasites for allergy to daisies
People who are allergic to comfrey or butterbur should be cautious when consuming products containing butterbur and should discuss this with their caring physician or alternative practitioner.
Butterbur for liver problems
Butterbur naturally contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are toxic to the liver. However, finished preparations no longer contain any of these, since the problem is known and the manufacturers extract them chemically, they should no longer play a role. However, it is pointed out that butterbur preparations should be discontinued immediately if symptoms occur.
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