A million people per year head to the emergency room for debilitating migraines, according to doctors.
Some of those doctors said the butterbur plant, which can be purchased at a health food store, could help prevent the pain.
"The American Academy of Neurologist in 2012 classified it as first line preventive treatment," said Dr. Asher Ali of the Yale Stress Center.
Butterbur is an herbal supplement and plant extract in the daisy family. It's classified as a prescription in Germany, Ali said.
"I've had patients who have used it who have had great success with it," said Hartford Hospital's Beth Cheney.
Migraines occur when blood vessels in the brain are irritated and start to spasm.
Ali said he recommended butterbur to patients, along with stress reduction and yoga.
"It stops some of the blood vessels from opening and closing in the brain and it also has some anti-inflammatory properties," Ali said.
Cheney, a nurse practitioner, said Hartford Hospital recommends it as well. She said it was also part of a bigger prevention plan that included managing the triggers of migraines.
"Managing their stress, managing their sleep habits, food is often a big trigger for patients, red wine, MSG, dehydration is a big thing for patients," Cheney listed.
Doctors said before patients purchase Butterbur, they should check to make sure it's labeled PA free. That means it does not have alkaloids that could cause liver damage.
Ali said it needed to be a specific trade name. He said Petadolex has proven to be safe.
Both he and Cheney said there was a good reason for the buzz surrounding butterbur. They called it a good alternative for those who do not want to take a prescription for pain.
Side effects typically include burping, but they recommended checking with a doctor before trying it.
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