Butterbur (Kuan Dong)
Botanical Name: Petasites hybridus, P Japoniscus
Butterbur is an herb used in Oriental medicine and Western medicine. With a long history of several applications, including curing the plague, it is mostly used these days to help reduce the duration and intensity of migraines and seasonal allergy symptoms, such as coughs, itchy eyes, and nasal congestion.
Below is an overview of Butterbur (Kuan Dong), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Butterbur (Kuan Dong).
Also Known As: Sweet Coltsfoot, Blatterdock, Butter-dock, Butterfly Dock, Umbrella Plant, Langwort, Flapperdock, Bog Rhubarb
Organs/Systems: Sinuses, Headaches, Stomach, Bladder, Respiratory System
Key Actions: Anti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic, Cardiotonic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Analgesic
Medicinal Uses: Pain, stomach aches, chills, anxiety, fever, insomnia, whooping cough, migraines, stomach ulcers, hay fever, urinary tract spasm, stimulate appetite, asthma, chronic bronchitis, irritable bladder, heal wounds.
Also Known As: Japanese Butterbur, Yellow Bridge
Meridians: Liver, Bladder, Kidney, Uterus
Key Actions: Moves Qi (Energy), Eliminates Toxins, Expels Wind
Medicinal Uses: Coughs, allergic symptoms, headaches, migraines, stomach upsets, detoxification, stimulate appetite, chronic bronchitis, worms.
Common butterbur (P. hybridus) is a robust perennial that can grow to be 3 feet in height and spread to up to 5 feet. It has tiny flowers that cluster at the top of a flower stalk with greenish sepals. The leaves are large and heart shaped, some measuring 13 inches wide. They are cream and green in color. Butterbur is related to coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) They begin to flower in early February emerging 3 to 8 weeks prior to the very large leaves. Butterbur is a member of the daisy family.
Butterbur grows in Europe, Asia, and parts of North America. It likes wet marshlands, damp forest soils, and riverbanks. Japanese butterbur (P. japoniscus), is native to China, Korea, and Japan. This variety has now been introduced to North America.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaf, Root, Bulb
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Pungent, Warming
Caution: Generally considered safe, butterbur may contain PAs (pyrrolizidine alkaloids) that can cause liver damage. Be sure to use preparations that are PA-free and safe. PA-free butterbur preparations may cause an upset stomach, fatigue, or allergic reactions in some people.
History/Folklore: Butterbur has been used for thousands of years. The roots are considered better for treating headaches and migraines and the leaves better for treating seasonal allergy symptoms caused by hay fever, mold, dust, and animal dander.
In the Middle Ages, butterbur was used to fight the plague. It was dried as a powder and mixed with wine to prevent plague and other virulent diseases. Butterbur roots were also used as a heart stimulant and also to treat worms. Over time it has been shown to be a useful remedy for among other things: coughs, asthma, stomach upsets, and migraines. It is also used externally to treat wounds.
The botanical name, “Petasites” derives from the Greek name for the felt hats worn by shepherds and refers to the size of the leaves.
Butterbur used to be lumped in with Tussilago species (coltsfoot) with their generic names often used interchangeably.
Native Americans have used the herb as a remedy for headaches and inflammation. They used the herb to heal wounds and ease back pain.
Butterbur extract can be made from the leaves, roots, or bulbs. The stalks of Japanese butterbur (P. japoniscus) are edible and often called “Fuki.”
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are compounds that are known to cause serious harm to the liver. Some butterbur preparations can contain these harmful compounds. Be sure to use products that are certified and labeled “PA-free.” The young leaves of the plant contain higher levels of PAs than older leaves
Butterbur is considered to be as effective or preferred to the common allergy drugs Zyrtec and Allegra which contain antihistamines and can make some people feel dizzy.
The active ingredients, petasin and isopetasin, found in butterbur help to relieve headache pain and frequency. Petasins are chemotypes that are known for their anti-inflammatory effects. They are associated with relaxing blood vessels in the brain that can become over excited during a migraine.
Butterbur seeds have historically been used in love potions and divination. They were to be sowed by young unmarried woman half an hour before sunrise on a Friday morning, in a lonesome place. As she did this she would see her future husband mowing a scythe not far away from her.
Want Butterbur (Kuan Dong)?
Here are some options…
Petasin, Isopetasin, Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), Sesquiterpenes, Oxopetasin.
Petadolex is a proprietary butterbur extract made in Germany by the company, Weber & Weber. It is popularly used to treat migraines.
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