Butterbur comes from a shrub that grows in North America, Asia, and Europe. The name butterbur came about because the large leaves of the plant were used to wrap butter to prevent it from going rancid. There is currently a lot of research into the properties of butterbur and why it can help to alleviate allergies. It seems that butterbur is useful in the treatment of nasal allergies such as allergic rhinitis and hay fever. In one study, taking butterbur reduced the number of histamines in the body. Higher levels of histamines cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction and prolong it.
Butterbur is a leukotriene inhibitor. When your body is exposed to an allergen, it releases leukotriene. This substance is inflammatory and causes swelling and pain. By blocking the release of leukotriene, butterbur prevents an allergic reaction or makes it far less severe. Butterbur capsules can be useful in the fight against allergies. Unlike many other natural remedies, processed butterbur is better than unprocessed butterbur. Unprocessed butterbur contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which could cause liver damage. Check that a butterbur product is labeled PA-free. Follow the recommended dose for no longer than 12-16 weeks. The effects of long-term use are not yet apparent.