Feverfew

Botanical name(s):

Chrysanthemum parthenium, Tanacetum parthenium. Family: Asteraceae

Other name(s):

altamisa, bachelor's buttons, featherfew, featherfoil

General description

Feverfew is related to the common daisy and grows throughout the United States and Europe. It has been used as a pain reliever for centuries. The feathery, aromatic leaves are used primarily for the prevention of migraine headaches. Scientists believe that parthenolide and other ingredients in feverfew inhibit serotonin and prostaglandin, naturally occurring agents that dilate the blood vessels and may trigger migraines.

Feverfew for migraines is likely to be effective only if taken daily over an extended period of time. It functions as a preventive, not a treatment, so taking it only when a migraine is present will not help.

Feverfew's main active component is the sesquiterpene lactone, parthenolide, which has been effective in the prevention of migraine headaches via a wide variety of physiological pathways.

Medically valid uses

Some studies suggest that feverfew is effective when used to decrease the frequency and severity of migraine headaches; as results are mixed, more research is needed.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

Feverfew may also alleviate the nausea and vomiting associated with migraines. It may take a month or more for the effects of feverfew to be noticed.

Feverfew is claimed to help reduce painful inflammation associated with arthritis, but one study showed that it did not help women who had not responded to conventional arthritis medications. People have also used it to decrease the thickness of secretions in the lungs and ease dizziness and tinnitus.

Feverfew may possibly help stimulate uterine contractions to reduce the length of labor, start menstrual periods, and relieve painful menstrual periods.

Feverfew has also been claimed to relieve colitis, soothe insect bites, and stimulate appetite by acting as a digestive bitter (tastes bitter and stimulates the digestive system and process to work more effectively).

Dosing format

Feverfew is available in standardized tablets or capsules.

Follow the packaging instructions for correct dose.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Fresh leaves may cause mouth ulcers (aphthous ulcers) in some people. Individuals with allergies, especially to ragweed, may be sensitive to feverfew, as it is a member of the same family.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use feverfew.

People who stop taking feverfew after long-term use may have headaches, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, and stiff muscles.

Additional information

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