Migraines and Feverfew

Consulted your doctor about the headaches you've been having? No? Surprisingly you're not alone. Though migraine is a highly prevalent, often painful, and frequently disabling disorder, for reasons unknown few seek medical care. Many people instead choose over the counter analgesics to combat the staggering effects. One herbal remedy becoming more and more prevalent is Feverfew.

A member of the daisy family, Feverfews (Tanacetum parthenium) name was derived from the Latin for "chase away fevers". Also known as featherfew, this short bushy perennial grows along fields and roadsides blooming July to October. Used medicinally since at least the early 1800s, it is exceedingly effective in controlling migraine headaches, relieving arthritis pain, psoriasis and tension.

Although some herbalists say feverfew's name came from its traditional use for fevers, the truth is that few fevers have ever been treated by this herb. Since at least the time of Dioscorides, a Greek physician who lived during the first century AD, feverfew has most commonly been used for "soothing the head". The name confusion came during the Middle Ages, when this plant was called "featherfoil" and "featherfew" because of the shape of its leaves. Luckily for many of us, the true benefits of feverfew didn't get lost in the confusion. During the past decade, scientists have learned that feverfew contains a spasmolytic compound called "parthenolide" that may smooth out muscles in the cerebral blood vessels.

How safe is Feverfew?

Safe enough for the Canadian Health Protection Branch to grant a Drug Identification Number (DIN) for feverfew. It is also widely used in Great Britain. In both of these countries it is recommended as a deterrent to migraines and is deemed safe and highly effective for daily use.

Feverfew can also be used as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis and to relieve nerve pain as in shingles and sciatica.

What should I know before I begin taking an herb like Feverfew?

Pregnant women should not use the herb. Fresh leaves may cause mouth ulcers and very rarely abdominal pain. If these symptoms develop, notify your doctor. You may need to take feverfew daily for two to three months before it has any effect. When in doubt ask your physician.

How much should I take?

The best way to get feverfew's benefits is by eating two or three of the fresh leaves daily. The leaves must be taken for a prolonged period, as it may take some time for the herb's medicinal properties to become effective. If you don't have feverfew growing in your garden it can be purchased from your local pharmacy or health food store. Choose products that list these active ingredients: 100 mcg. Sesquiterpene lactones or 400 mcg. (not less than 0.2%) parthenolide. The usual dosage is one tablet or caplet a day. Most people who try feverfew, which has no known serious side effects, report improvement in four to six weeks.

Comments 2 comments

proton66 profile image

proton66 4 years ago from Southern California

Interesting but, does it not give withdrawal syndrome if someone stops using it after a long period?

Proactive Health profile image

Proactive Health 4 years ago from Kansas City Metropolitan Area Author

Well noted! It is recommended that you taper off of feverfew if you have been on it more than 6 months. However, most of the studies that list the side effects stem from one British Med. Journal article from 1985. It is sited in most of the subsequent articles for side effects. The primary side effect from the 1985 study was severe rebound migraine headaches which prompted most of the patients in this study to go back on feverfew. Muscle Aches, Anxiety, Fatigue & Muscle Stiffness were also noted. Thanks for the comment.

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