Used by ancient Greek physicians to reduce inflammation and treat menstrual cramps, new research is shedding light on this perennial herb’s migraine fighting ability. It’s terrific news for those who suffer from the common condition. Several scientific studies have proven that it can reduce or eliminate migraines in more than 70% of users!
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is native to southeastern Europe, but can now be found widespread throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. It was once used to treat fevers, as its name suggests however, the reported effectiveness for this purpose isn’t anything noteworthy.
Feverfew is a member of the daisy family that has been used historically to an array of symptoms from severe headaches/migraines, to arthritis, and problems with labor and childbirth. One source advises that pregnant women should avoid it. Please consult an herbalist if you are pregnant.
Feverfew blooms between July and October, and gives off a strong and bitter odor. Its yellow-green leaves are alternate and turn downward with short hairs. The small, daisy-like yellow flowers are arranged in a dense flat-topped cluster.
It can be found in capsule form although it’s probably best to consume raw or dried leaves directly from the plant. This is because several supplements that claim to contain feverfew have been found to contain little or no feverfew (see dosage & sources section below to know what to look for on a supplement label). The leaves are the most common way to take this herb but all parts of the plant that grow above ground may be used.
Not only is feverfew effective at preventing migraine headaches but it can be used to stop them once they start.
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports:
Feverfew was popular in Great Britain in the 1980s as a treatment for migraines. A survey of 270 people with migraines in Great Britain found that more than 70% of them felt much better after taking an average of 2 – 3 fresh feverfew leaves daily. Several human studies have used feverfew to prevent and treat migraines. Overall, these studies suggest that taking dried leaf capsules of feverfew every day may reduce the number of migraines in people who have chronic migraines.
One study used a combination of feverfew and white willow (Salix alba), which has chemicals like aspirin. People who took the combination twice a day for 12 weeks had fewer migraines and they didn’t last as long or hurt as much.
Another study found that people who took a special extract of feverfew had fewer average number of migraine attacks per month compared to people who took placebo. A 3-month study with 49 people found that a combination of feverfew, magnesium, and vitamin B2 led to a 50% decrease in migraines.
Dosage and Sources
High-Parthenolide Feverfew delivers 500 mcg of parthenolide in a total of 212 mg of feverfew from a specially grown “high parthenolide” feverfew leaf per capsule. Parthenolides are sesquiterpene lactones, the major dietary components of feverfew.
Take one Feverfew Concentrate capsule daily with a meal.
The compound parthenolide may also reduce inflammation and may stop cancer cells from growing.
Feverfew should not be given to children under 2 years old. For older children it is wise to consult a pediatrician or herbalist beforehand, especially if they are taking any other medications or supplements.
People with allergies to chamomile, ragweed, or yarrow may be allergic to feverfew and should consult an herbalist prior to trying it.
If you take blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, it may be dangerous to combine them with a feverfew regimen. Ask your doctor before taking feverfew if you take blood-thinners.
If you are taking feverfew and are scheduled for surgery, be sure to tell your doctor. It may interact with anesthesia.
If you have used feverfew for over a week long period, DO NOT abruptly stop taking it. Stopping too quickly without weening yourself off may cause rebound headaches, anxiety, fatigue, muscle stiffness, and joint pain.
Funding for further research on feverfew is limited (go figure) and therefore isn’t as well known as it should be. Please share this information by clicking a button below to spread the word and help those who suffer from migraines live comfortably!