Feverfew for the treatment of migraine headaches: an introduction

Feverfew has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for many disorders such as headaches, menstrual irregularities, labor problems, skin conditions, stomach aches, asthma, fevers, insect bites, toothaches, psoriasis, allergies, ringing in the ears, dizziness, arthritis as well as nausea and vomiting. For migraines, feverfew, which has flowers that resemble daisies, is part of the sunflower family. Feverfew’s official botanical name is Tanacetum parthenium or Chrysanthemum parthenium. It is sometimes called bachelor’s buttons or featherfew.

Feverfew was originally grown in southeastern Europe in the Balkan mountains and is now grown all over Europe, North America and Australia. It blooms between July and October.

What part of the feverfew for migraine is used

For migraine, feverfew supplements typically use dried feverfew leaves. Sometimes leaves are eaten fresh. Also, some supplements use flowers and stems. Feverfew is believed to help migraine sufferers because of a substance in Feverfew called parthenolide, which helps relieve smooth muscle spasms. It also helps stop the brain’s blood vessels from contracting and prevents inflammation.

Feverfew for migraines

Feverfew has been used to prevent migraines, as a migraine herbal supplement.


Formulations of Feverfew available

  • Tablets
  • Capsule
  • Liquid extract
  • Fresh Feverfew
  • Dried Feverfew
  • Soft gels
  • Powder
  • Tea
  • Topical formulations (applied to the skin)
  • Chewable tablets

Side effects and other precautions

Side effects associated with chewing raw Feverfew leaves or drinking Feverfew tea

  • Mouth ulcers, canker sores
  • Loss of taste
  • Swelling or irritation of the lips, tongue or mouth

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.

Young children, particularly those under age 2, shouldn’t take Feverfew because it hasn’t been adequately studied in children.

Do not take Feverfew if you have a bleeding disorder or if you take a blood thinner.

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.

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. Again, this information should in no way substitute or be mistaken for medical advice.