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Feverfew

Feverfew

The herb Feverfew as an alternative herbal remedy for fevers, headaches, stomach aches, toothaches and insect bites. – Originally a plant native to the Balkan mountains of Eastern Europe, feverfew now grows throughout Europe, North America, and South America.

Common Names–feverfew, bachelor’s buttons, featherfew

Latin Names–Tanacetum parthenium, Chrysanthemum parthenium Picture of Feverfew

  • Feverfew (Tanecetum parthenium) is a well-known herb and one of the most widely respected in the prophylactic (preventative) treatment of migraine and chronic headache. There are many clinical studies to support its effectiveness insignificantly reducing or completely eliminating the occurrence and the severity of chronic headache and migraine. Scientific research has demonstrated that Feverfew contains a range of compounds called sesquiterpene lactones, the principle ingredient being parthenolide. Parthenolide has been scientifically shown to prevent excessive clumping of blood platelets and to reduce the release of certain pain inducing chemicals and inflammatory compounds. It has also been shown to make smooth muscle in the walls of cerebral blood vessels less reactive to vaso-constrictors – thereby relaxing constricted blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the brain.

What Feverfew Is Used For

  • Feverfew has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy for fevers, headaches, stomach aches, toothaches, insect bites, infertility, and problems with menstruation and labor during childbirth.
  • Recently, feverfew has been used for migraine headaches and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Feverfew has also been used for psoriasis, allergies, asthma, tinnitus (ringing or roaring sounds in the ears), dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.

What the Science Says about Feverfew

  • Some research suggests that feverfew may be helpful in preventing migraine headaches; however, results have been mixed and more evidence is needed from well-designed studies.
  • One study found that feverfew did not reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in women whose symptoms did not respond to conventional medicines. It has been suggested that feverfew could help those with milder symptoms.
  • There is not enough evidence available to assess whether feverfew is beneficial for other uses.
  • NCCAM-funded researchers are studying ways to standardize feverfew; that is, to prepare it in a consistent manner. Standardized preparations could be used in future studies of feverfew for migraines.

Side Effects and Cautions of Feverfew

  • No serious side effects have been reported for feverfew. Side effects can include canker sores, swelling and irritation of the lips and tongue, and loss of taste.
  • Less common side effects can include nausea, digestive problems, and bloating.
  • People who take feverfew for a long time and then stop taking it may have headaches, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, stiff muscles, and joint pain.
  • Women who are pregnant should not use feverfew because it may cause the uterus to contract, increasing the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.
  • People can have allergic reactions to feverfew. Those who are allergic to other members of the daisy family (which includes ragweed and chrysanthemums) are more likely to be allergic to feverfew.
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Last Updated on December 27, 2021

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