The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been made aware of a magazine article which promotes the use of Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) for the treatment of hayfever, or to treat migraines, asthma, chronic coughs and gastric ulcers. We advise patients not to take herbal products containing Butterbur to treat these conditions.
These are unlicensed herbal medicines that present a serious risk to public health, as they can cause liver toxicity, organ failure and other dangerous side-effects.
In January 2012, the MHRA published a safety alert advising people not to take unlicensed Butterbur herbal products, following reports of Butterbur products being associated with cases of liver toxicity and our advice remains unchanged.
There is no guarantee that unlicensed herbal medicines meet quality, safety, efficacy, and patient information standards required in the UK. This can endanger the health and welfare of people who take them.
Patients taking herbal products containing Butterbur should be advised to stop using them immediately and seek advice from their GP or pharmacist if they have any concerns.
Anyone can report any suspected side effects of herbal medicines via the Yellow Card scheme.
If you have any queries, please email MHRACustomerServices@mhra.gov.uk.