There are a few types. Petasites japonica & P. hybridus are what I've been reading about. Hybridus is what is in my supplement and I can get seeds here:

I've read quite a few other links too, but I neglected to copy their addresses.

I have been taking a butterbur (75mg)-feverfew (200mg) capsule sold by "Now" for spontaneous migraines from airborne chemicals and one daughter who gets migraines (usually from cigar smoke but other chemicals in the air can cause it too).

We are very aware about the beginning twinges...those that make you think it's the start but you still tend to be in denial...that's when we took it. We weren't going to mess around.

We are not taking it daily. We wanted to know if it would work without daily doses, but instead at the onset of a migraine. So far, so good. It sure beats Advil!

I am aware that both herbs are good to treat migraines, but I am not clear on why both would be mixed if they are both good for the same purpose...unless in these proportions, they support/compliment one another in some way.

I started looking into growing it. I can get seeds for both and can container grow butterbur, overwintering it in our basement. Hardy to zone 5, it technically should not become invasive here (zone 3), but container growing (with precautions, see link below), should work well enough and keep it going. I can't imagine feverfew being a difficult herb to grow, but haven't researched it much yet to know much about growing it.

Feverfew can be eaten 2 to 3 leaves at a time. Of course, there is more to know, but I haven't researched that much yet either.

My butterbur capsules will be dried root.

I have no idea how to easily & properly balance these for use. It would be easier to just buy the capsules, but most likely less expensive and more readily available to do it myself.

There are cautions of course with pregnancy & lactation, those taking blood pressure meds and a few other cautions, but nothing that pertains to me or my low frequency of taking it.


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,402 admin

    I have to go out so I will come back to this with proportions, etc. with regards to medicinal uses.

    But for now, the growth. I have 3 species of Petasites growing here in my area. They keep changing the species and sub-species designations and at the moment they are all classified as P. frigidus with 5 sub-species.

    This is P. frigidus var. palmatus. Palm shaped leaf habit about the size of a large hand.

    This is P. frigidus var. saggitatus. These are quite large leaves. You can see the downy grey underneath on a couple of these leaves.

    This is P. frigidus var. nivalis. Almost an intermediary species between the above two.

    I have found all three species growing in zone 2 (or even 1) climates here in the mountains. They like it moist but I've found palmatus growing in drier areas. I found a huge patch of saggitatus growing just south of the BC/Yukon border, so its pretty hardy.

    I don't think it would become invasive. Where I find it, there are often colonies but they are isolated. Perhaps if it had the right conditions in a garden.

    It doesn't look like it at first glance but coltsfoot is a member of the Asteraceae family. You can see that more clearly in this pic of the flowers. They come in very early spring

    I've never seen P. japonica before but it must be pretty spectacular with such big leaves. And P. hybridus has very pretty purplish pink flowers.

    Feverfew grows in my garden. I have one plant that has been in the same place for about 9 years now, so pretty hardy. It doesn't get any special treatment, in fact it gets some abuse from my husband when he is digging in the bed around it. It produces some babies every year. Pretty little plant.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 713 ✭✭✭✭

    I know I have seen these leaves and had no clue what I was looking at😦. Now I'll be watching for them, seem very useful.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,131 ✭✭✭✭

    This is something I need to look into before my spring/early summer allergy season. I usually resort to nettle tea.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,215 admin

    @nicksamanda11 @marjstratton Do look into the different types by latin name. Some have different uses/benefits. Keep this in mind. It is very important.

    What I found interesting is that butterbur leaves were used for wrapping butter so that it didn't melt in warm weather. I wonder why these leaves worked (and hiw much leaf was used to wrap & how, & if anything might transfer by doing this (taste or constituents).

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,402 admin


    I've had a look at a variety of OTC herbal products for migraines. They all seem to be in combinations of some sort. Butterbur with feverfew. Feverfew with turmeric. Butterbur with ginger. And several other combos. Some have the inclusion of riboflavin, magnesium and/or CoQ-10. There is some research into the combination of the last 3 having some moderate to good results so that could be why they added to several of the combos with herbs. The ginger has some anti-inflammatory properties but is likely in combos as a catalyst herb.

    Butterbur and feverfew work on different pathways. As there are a number of possible causes for migraines, there will be different herbs with different properties that will have better effects with the different types of migraines. That could be why there are combinations; the manufacturers are trying to make a "one-size fits all" type of medication. A herbalist might be able to help narrow down which type of migraines an individual is suffering from, depending on triggers, symptoms, duration, aggravations & ameliorations, etc., and then be better able to narrow down a single herb or combination of herbs that will be most effective. But you could experiment with this yourself at home. You could try butterbur on its own and then feverfew on its own to see which one works best.

    I know that's hard to do when you have already found something that works. If you tried one on its own and it didn't help, well now you've got a full blown migraine. From what I understand it is much easier to nip it in the bud rather than treat a headache once its fully engaged.

    I have a feeling that its the butterbur that is working for you because it seems to be better for those types of headaches that are caused by environmental/chemical exposures.

    They also might be in combos because of a synergistic relationship but I haven't found any indication of that between butterbur and feverfew.

    As to my local species here in BC, as well as further north into Alaska and further south in the northwestern states, coltsfoot (as it is more commonly known here) is widely used as a lung herb by herbalists and First Nations of this area. Used (often as a syrup of the flowers or root) for asthma, coughs, colds & bronchitis and is included in some herbal smoking mixtures for those who are quitting tobacco. I also found a few ethnobotanical references to local species being used for headaches. Other than that there is very little research into P. frigidus. All of the research seems to be focused on P. japonica and P. hybridus. This is common in herbal research. They only look at one or two of the main species within a genus and ignore all the rest. The 3 local variants are all used interchangeably, although, P. frigidus var. saggitatus is preferrable because of the size of the leaves and it tends to be the one to grow in larger colonies, making it more abundant and less sensitive to harvest.

    All species of Petasites have pyrrolizidine alkaloids similar to those found in comfrey. So caution should be used with anyone who has any type of liver disease or kidney disease. They are lower than found in comfrey and similarly, the alkaloids are lower in older plants, so avoid harvesting leaves in the spring. Interestingly, one of the few studies I found that mentioned P. frigidus showed less of the variety of the alkaloids in P. frigidus than P. hybridus. There is one new alkaloid found only in P. japonica and they have suggested that it is carcinogenic (but how much did they feed to a rat to make that happen).

    One other thing I found is that OTC products with supplemental butterbur may have had the alkaloids removed and be "PA-free".

    Good advice, to check out the plants local to your area, especially down to the species.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,215 admin

    @torey The supplement I have claims to be PA-free.

    It does make it tricky to go out from the supplement that seems to be working and into experimentation with a plant. Migraines are so horrible and nipping it in the bud is certainly key to being able to function.

    Thank you for all of the great information.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,131 ✭✭✭✭

    Even when I manage to nip a migraine in the bud, I often don't feel good for the rest of the day or maybe even longer. I don't get a headache anymore, I just don't feel "right", even after my vision comes back.