If you suffer from allergies, you might find relief by taking nature’s original antihistamine. Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a member of the daisy family, native to Europe, North America, and Asia. It is also known as butterfly dock, bog rhubarb, brtter-dock, blatterdock, and exwort. It has traditionally been used to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, inflammation, and asthma.
Recent studies have confirmed what our ancestors already knew: butterbur can significantly improve seasonal allergy symptoms, including runny nose, itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion. Butterbur may even work as well as, or better than, other popular over-the-counter allergy remedies.
An antihistamine works by blocking the production of histamines, compounds in your body produced by your immune system to fight off disease. People with allergies produce histamines in response to non-threatening particles, such as dust or pollen. For an antihistamine to work, it must be taken prior to exposure to an allergen, or on a regular basis throughout allergy season.
Because butterbur is related to ragweed, it should not be taken by people with ragweed allergies. In its natural form, butterbur contains chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are toxic to the liver and kidneys. Most commercially sold butterbur supplements have had these chemicals removed, and should be safe to take. Just be sure, as with any supplement, that you carefully read the label first, and carefully follow the dosage instructions.