Plant Profiler

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus)

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) Image
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
Blatterdock, bog rhubarb, bogshorns, butcher's rhubarb, butterbur coltsfoot, butterburr, butter-dock, butterdock, butterfly dock, capdockin, coughwort, donnhove, European pestroot, exwort, flapper-bags, flapperdock, fuki, horsehoof, langwort, paddy's rhubarb, pestwurz, Petadolex®, Petadolor H, Petaforce®, petasites, petasites flower, petasites leaf, petasites rhizome, petasites root, Petasites hybridus, P. officinalis, P. ovatus, P. vulgaris, petasitidis folium (flower), Petasitidis hybridus, Petasitidis rhizoma (rhizome), plaguewort, purple butterbur, sweet coltsfoot, Tesalin®, Tussilago farfara, Tussilago hybrida, Tussilago petasites, umbrella leaves, umbrella plant, western coltsfoot, wild rhubarb, ZE 339..

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: Extracts of butterbur have been made from the rhizomes, roots and leaves. The sesquiterpenes, isopetasin, oxopetasin, and petasin, are believed to be the active constituents responsible for pharmacologic activity.1 Some research suggests that petasin may be the most active component.
  • Smooth muscle relaxant/vasodilation properties: The active constituents of Petasites hybridus have been reported to possess smooth muscle relaxant activity on vascular walls with a particular affinity for cerebral blood vessels. Some authors have suggested that Petasites' ability to reduce smooth muscle spasm may make it a useful therapy for some urinary disorders, menstrual cramps, migraine headache, kidney stones, obstruction of bile flow, and other gastrointestinal disorders associated with smooth muscle spasm.1,2,3
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Potential anti-inflammatory properties of butterbur extracts have been attributed to the petasin content, which has been reported to cause inhibition of lipoxygenase activity and down-regulation of leukotriene synthesis.1 Isopetasin and oxopetasin esters in P. hybridus have also been reported to inhibit synthesis of leukotrienes.3 Inhibition of COX-2 and PGE2 has also been reported in animal research.4


  • There is limited scientific data available. Petasins have been reported to be bioavailable and have a half-life of 4-6 hours.


  1. Debrunner B, Meier B. Petasites hybridus: a tool for interdisciplinary research in phytotherapy. Pharm Acta Helv 1998;72(6):359-362. 9540455
  2. Brune K, Bickel D, Peskar BA. Gastro-protective effects by extracts of Petasites hybridus: the role of inhibition of peptido-leukotriene synthesis. Planta Med 1993;59(6):494-496. 8302945
  3. Bickel D, Roder T, Bestmann HJ, et al. Identification and characterization of inhibitors of peptido-leukotriene-synthesis from Petasites hybridus. Planta Med 1994;60(4):318-322. 7938265
  4. Fiebich BL, Grozdeva M, Hess S, et al. Petasites hybridus extracts in vitro inhibit COX-2 and PGE2 release by direct interaction with the enzyme and by preventing p42/44 MAP kinase activation in rat primary microglial cells. Planta Med 2005;71(1):12-19. 15678367

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