Coltsfoot or Petasites frigidus


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Petasites is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family, Asteraceae, that are commonly referred to as butterburs and coltsfoots. They are perennial plants with thick, creeping underground rhizomes and large rhubarb-like leaves during the growing season.

Petasites frigidus

Scientific classification

Kingdom:     Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order:          Asterales
Family:         Asteraceae
Tribe:           Senecioneae
Genus:         Petasites
Species:       P. frigidus
Binomial name: Petasites frigidus

Petasites frigidus, the Arctic sweet coltsfoot or Arctic butterbur, is a species of Petasites native to Arctic to cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America. It is a herbaceous perennial plant producing flowering stems in early spring, and large leaves through the summer. The upright flowering stems are 10–20 cm tall, and bear only 5-12 inflorescences, yellowish-white to pink in colour. The leaves are rounded, 15–20 cm broad, with a deeply cleft base and shallowly lobed margin, and rise directly from the underground rootstock. The underside of the leaves is covered with matted, woolly fuzz. It grows in moist shaded ground, preferring stream banks and seeping ground of cut-banks.


The leaf stalks and flower stems (with flowers) are edible and can be used as a vegetable dish. A salt-substitute can also be made by drying and then burning the leaves. This black, powdery substance will provide a salty taste.

Medicinal uses

Butterbur has been used for over 2000 years to treat a variety of ailments including fever, lung disease, spasms, and pain. Currently, butterbur extract is used for migraine prevention and treatment of allergic rhinitis, which have the most evidence for its effectiveness. Some butterbur species contain the chemicals petasin and isopetasin which are believed to have potential benefits in treating migraines. High concentrations of petasin occur in both butterbur root and leaves, with the leaves containing lower levels of the toxic chemical. Butterbur extracts have been reported to be effective in reducing frequency and severity of migraine headaches. Several double-blind studies have shown that high doses of Petasites hybridus” extract, containing petasin and/or isopetasin, are effective both in preventing and in relieving migraine, with the best results in groups taking the higher dose of the supplement. Although mainly well-tolerated, the adverse effects of butterbur reported in clinical trials include mainly gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, flatulence, and belching. The American Academy of Neurology and American Headache Society now endorse butterbur for preventing migraine headaches with a Level A recommendation (based on at least two strong clinical trials). Furthermore, the Canadian Headache Society supports a strong recommendation for use of butterbur in prevention of migraines for select patients based on their clinical features and co-existing disorders.

Additionally, a study showed butterbur extract to be an effective treatment for hay fever without the sedative effect of the antihistamine cetirizine, if taken four times daily. Butterbur was also shown to be comparably effective as fexofenadine when compared to placebo for reducing symptoms of allergic rhinitis