Feverfew

Feverfew, which has flowers that resemble daisies, has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for many disorders such as headaches, infertility, labor difficulties, fevers, arthritis, diarrhea, and toothaches. Feverfew’s official botanical name is Tanacetum parthenium or Chrysanthemum parthenium. Feverfew was originally grown in Eastern Europe in the Balkan mountains and is now grown all over Europe, North America and South America. It is also sometimes called bachelor’s buttons or featherfew.1,2

Feverfew for the treatment of migraine

For migraine, feverfew supplements typically use dried feverfew leaves, but some supplements use the flowers and stems of the plant. It is believed that the substance in feverfew called parthenolide may help prevent migraine attacks by reducing inflammation or by stopping the aggregation of platelets.1

Research studies on the effectiveness of feverfew in preventing migraine have had mixed results, with some trials showing a benefit and others showing none.1,2

Formulations of Feverfew available

Feverfew is a natural remedy, or nutraceutical, and is available without a prescription in several formulations, including:

  • Tablets
  • Capsule
  • Liquid extract
  • Tea2

Side effects and other precautions

Feverfew many cause side effects, such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Joint aches
  • Indigestion
  • Gas or bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea1,2

Who should not take feverfew

If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding, you must consult your doctor before taking feverfew. Feverfew may cause the uterus to contract and increase the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.

People who are allergic to members of the daisy family, chamomile, ragweed or yarrow should not take feverfew, since they are more likely to be allergic to feverfew as well.

Inform your doctor about any other medications or supplements you take before taking feverfew, it may affect the way your other treatments react in your body.

If you have taken feverfew for more than a week, you should not stop taking it abruptly because it may cause withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms including nervousness, difficulty sleeping, headache, anxiety, fatigue, muscle stiffness and joint pain.

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As always, the best source for advice on treating your migraines is your own migraine specialist. These descriptions of natural remedies are provided only for informational purposes. You should begin no medication or supplement without first checking with your physician.

Written by: Emily Downward | Last review date: May 2018
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