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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 daisy. It grows throughout the U.S. and Europe. It’s been used as a pain reliever for centuries.

Its feathery, aromatic leaves are used to prevent migraine headaches. Experts say that parthenolide and other ingredients in feverfew get in the way of serotonin and prostaglandin. These are natural substances that dilate the blood vessels. They may be responsible for triggering migraines.

Feverfew is likely to work for migraines if taken daily for at least several months. It’s important to note that it prevents migraines. It doesn’t treat them. This means that it won’t help if you take it when you have a migraine.

Feverfew's main active part is the sesquiterpene lactone, parthenolide. It works to reduce the chance of migraines through physiological pathways.

Medically valid uses

Studies suggest that feverfew decreases the severity and frequency of migraines. However, results are mixed. More research is needed to know if this is true.

Unsubstantiated claims

There may be benefits that have not yet been proven through research.

Feverfew may ease nausea and vomiting due to migraines. It may take a month or longer for it to work.

Feverfew may reduce painful inflammation due to arthritis.

Feverfew may help bring on uterine contractions to reduce the length of labor. It may aid in starting menstrual periods and treating menstrual pain.

Feverfew may relieve colitis and soothe insect bites. It may boost appetite by acting as a digestive bitter. It tastes bitter and helps the digestive process to work better.

Dosing format

Feverfew is available in oral tablets, capsules, liquid extract and teas. Follow the instructions on the package for correct dose.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Fresh leaves may cause mouth ulcers (aphthous ulcers) in some people. People with allergies, especially to ragweed, may be sensitive to it. This is because it’s a member of the same plant family.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use feverfew.

People who stop taking feverfew after using it for a long time may have withdrawal side effects. These include headaches, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and stiff muscles.

Do not take feverfew if:

  • You are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or similar plants

  • You are taking any kind of blood-thinning medicine

  • You are taking a cytochrome P450 3A4 substrate medicine. Ask your healthcare provider if you are.

Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019
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