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What is feverfew?
A short, perennial plant with yellow-green leaves and yellow
flowers that look like a daisy, feverfew is found throughout
Europe, North America and Australia. The word is taken from
the Latin term febrifuge, which literally means "fever-reducing."
People originally planted feverfew in gardens and around their
homes with the belief that it would purify the atmosphere
and ward off disease.
Why do we need feverfew? What is
it used for?
Feverfew has traditionally been used to combat headache,
fever and arthritis. More recent studies have shown it to
be successful in reducing the effects of migraine headaches.
A survey conducted in Great Britain in the 1980s found that
70% of migraine sufferers experienced relief from their symptoms
after eating two or three fresh feverfew leaves. Another study
revealed that feverfew significantly reduced the symptoms
of migraine headaches compared to a placebo.
The anti-migraine properties of feverfew have been attributed
to substance called parthenolide. Parthenolide affects smooth
muscle in the walls of blood vessels of the brain that block
the action of vasoconstrictors like serotonin and norepinephrine.
How much feverfew should I take?
The amount of feverfew taken depends on the condition. To
treat and prevent migraines, it is recommended to take a standardized
feverfew extract (containing a minimum 250 micrograms of parthenolide)
twice daily. To treat an acute migraine attack, one to two
grams of parthenolide daily are recommended.
What forms of feverfew are available?
Feverfew is most readily available in capsule form. While
most feverfew products are made from the leaves, some products
also use the aerial (above ground) parts of the plant. When
purchasing a feverfew product, make sure that it is standardized
and that it contains at least 0.2 percent parthenolide.
What can happen if I take too much
feverfew? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
No long-term studies on feverfew toxicology have been conducted.
However, some people may experience unwanted side effects
such as abdominal pain, flatulence, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea
and nervousness when taking it.
If you are taking aspirin, warfarin or any other type of
blood-thinning medication, you should not take feverfew. Women
who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating should not ingest
it; children under the age of two should also refrain from
feverfew and should consult with a qualified health care provider
Other Resources :
More You Know About Nutrition
De Weerdt CJ, Bootsma HPR, Hendriks
H. Herbal medicines in migraine prevention. Randomized double-blind
placebo controlled crossover trial of a feverfew preparation.
Johnson ES, Kadam NP, Hylands
DM, Hylands PJ. Efficacy of feverfew as prophylactic treatment
of migraine. Br Med J 1985;291:569573.
Murphy JJ, Heptinstall S, Mitchell
JR. Randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial of feverfew
in migraine prevention. Lancet 1988;2:189192.
Palevitch D, Earon G, Carasso
R. Feverfew (tanacetum parthenium) as a prophylactic treatment
for migraine: a double-blind controlled study. Phytotherapy
Pattrick M, Heptinstall S, Doherty
M. Feverfew in rheumatoid arthritis: a double-blind, placebo
controlled study. Ann Rheum Dis 1989;48:547549.
Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice: The
Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical
Products Press; 1994:126134.