Petasites hybridus

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Petasites hybridus
Petasites hybridus leaf.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Senecioneae
Genus: Petasites
Species: P. hybridus
Binomial name
Petasites hybridus
(L.) G.Gaertn., B.Mey. & Scherb.
  • Tussilago hybrida L.
  • Petasites vulgaris Desf.

Petasites hybridus, the (common) butterbur is a herbaceous perennial plant in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe and northern Asia.


Similar to Petasites hybridus but with larger leaves.[1] The flowers are produced in the early spring, before the leaves appear; they are pale pink, with several inflorescences clustered on a 5–20 cm stem. The leaves are large, on stout 80–120 cm tall stems, round, with a diameter of 40–70 cm. It is also called bog rhubarb, Devil's hat and pestilence wort. Synonyms include P. officinalis, P. ovatus and P. vulgaris.


Petasites hybridus leaves have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally (as tea or cold maceration in ethanol) and externally (as compresses or maceration in vinegar) for treatment of infections, fever, flu, colds, hay-fever and allergies.[2]

In one study, published recently in the British Medical Journal, a group of Swiss researchers showed how just one tablet of butterbur extract (Ze 339) four times daily was as effective as a popular antihistamine drug in controlling symptoms of hay fever—without the traditional symptom of drowsiness that sometimes occurs.

In a second study, presented at the 60th annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI), a group of British researchers put their stamp of approval on butterbur's effectiveness in quelling symptoms of grass allergy.

Another study was done and published in February 2014, by Ray Sahelian, M.D., describing the benefits and side effects of Petasites Hybridus.

The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper called it "a great preserver of the heart and reviver of the spirits". Its many uses in folk medicine include applications as a diuretic and muscle relaxant, and to treat coughs, fever, wounds, stammering, headaches, asthma and stress. Not all of these uses are supported by scientific research.

Potential medicinal uses[edit]

Preliminary trials have shown a preparation of Butterbur root to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.[3] A commercial extract Petasol butenoate complex (Ze 339) has proved helpful for allergic rhinitis[4][5] An evidence-based 2005 systematic review including written and statistical analysis of scientific literature, expert opinion, folkloric precedent, history, pharmacology, kinetics/dynamics, interactions, adverse effects, toxicology, and dosing is available from the Natural Standard Research Collaboration.[6]


  1. ^ Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  2. ^ Sylvia Vogl, Paolo Picker, Judit Mihaly-Bison, Nanang Fakhrudin, Atanas G. Atanasov, Elke H. Heiss, Christoph Wawrosch, Gottfried Reznicek, Verena M. Dirsch, Johannes Saukel & Brigitte Koppa (2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine – an unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 149 (3): 750–771. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053. 
  3. ^ Taylor, Frederick R. (2011). "Nutraceuticals and Headache: The Biological Basis". Headache: the Journal of Head and Face Pain 51 (3): 484. doi:10.1111/j.1526-4610.2011.01847.x. 
  4. ^ Dumitru, Alina F.; Shamji, Mohamed; Wagenmann, Martin; Hindersin, Simone; Scheckenbach, Kathrin; Greve, Jens; Klenzner, Thomas; Hess, Lorenzo; et al. (2011). "Petasol butenoate complex (Ze 339) relieves allergic rhinitis–induced nasal obstruction more effectively than desloratadine". Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 127 (6): 1515–21.e6. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2011.02.045. PMID 21489609. 
  5. ^ Dumitru, AF; Shamji, M; Wagenmann, M; Hindersin, S; Scheckenbach, K; Greve, J; Klenzner, T; Hess, L; et al. (2011). "Petasol butenoate complex (Ze 339) relieves allergic rhinitis-induced nasal obstruction more effectively than desloratadine". The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 127 (6): 1515–21.e6. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2011.02.045. PMID 21489609. 
  6. ^ Giles M., Ulbricht C., Khalsa K.P.S., DeFranco Kirkwood C., Park C., Basch E., "Butterbur: An evidence-based systematic review by the natural standard research collaboration Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy 2005 5:3 (119-143

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