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Herbs & Supplements «Feverfew Information and Resources»

Among its many historical and current uses, feverfew is believed to offer a variety of medicinal benefits including pain relief from arthritis, reduction of menstrual cramping, ability cure asthma, stimulation the appetite, and relieving migraines. Feverfew is also rich in nutrients including Iron, niacin, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.

As its name suggests, feverfew has also been used historically to treat and manage fever. Fever few has also been used for relieving the pain and inflammation of arthritis. Recently, researchers are studying feverfew for its ability to prevent severe migraine headaches. Clinical studies have provided preliminary evidence that feverfew may indeed be able to prevent both the frequency and severity of migraine headaches. However, feverfew has very little effect on active migraines. In the past, researchers have believed it was one single chemical compound responsible for feverfew's medicinal effects. However, today it is now believed that it is number of feverfew's components work together to prevent migraine symptoms and that products made from fresh feverfew may be more effect than those made from dried feverfew.

In one study of nearly 80 migraine sufferers, those who took feverfew capsules (70 to 114 mg) per day for 4 months experienced a 25 reduction in attacks and a substantial drop in symptoms that frequently accompany migraines, such as nausea and vomiting, compared to those study participants who received a placebo.

Many researchers believe that feverfews medicinal effects are owed to a range of compounds known as sesquiterpene lactones. Nearly 90 of these are a compound called parthenolide. The parthenolide content in feverfew were at one time believed to be responsible for the herbs anti-migraine effects but recent studies have shed a shadow of doubt on this theory.

Dosage and Administration

Historically, feverfew was ingested much in the same way as chewing tobacco, chewing a few leaves to extract its nutrients. However, because chewing fresh feverfew may irritate both the mouth and stomach, feverfew preparations now include capsules, extracts, and tablets made from dried feverfew leaves which do not irritate. To help prevent migraines, a common recommended dosage is 200 to 250 milligrams a day in capsule form. Since the parthenolide content may vary from one feverfew preparation to the next, we strongly suggest following the manufacturer's instructions whenever available. Full effectiveness in preventing migraines may not be evident until feverfew has been taken for 4 to 6 weeks.

Feverfew tea may be made by soaking about one teaspoonful of dried feverfew leaves in 5 to 8 ounces of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the solids have been strained out, this tea may be consumed as often as desired. It may also be applied to the skin as an insect repellent.

Precautions

If you are currently being treated with any blood-thinning medications or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) you should not use feverfew without first consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.

Supporting Literature

Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998:12.

Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 91-95.

Heptinstall S, White A, Williamson L, Mitchell JR.. Extracts of feverfew inhibit granule secretion in blood platelets and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Lancet 1985;1:1071-1074.

Klepser TB, Klepser ME. Unsafe and potentially safe herbal therapies. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 1999;56(2):125-138; quiz 139-141.

Makheja AN and Bailey JM. A platelet phospholipase inhibitor from the medicinal herb feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Prostagland Leukotrienes Med 1982;8:653-660.

Vogler BK, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Feverfew as a preventive treatment for migraine: a systematic review. Cephalalgia. 1998;18(10):704-708.

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