What is Feverfew?
Also known as "featherfew" and "wild chamomile," feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a plant belonging to the sunflower family. It has long been used as an herbal remedy in European folk medicine.
Feverfew contains a compound called parthenolide, which may help to ease muscle spasms, reduce inflammation, and prevent the constriction of blood vessels in the brain.
Uses of Feverfew
In herbal medicine, feverfew is typically used to treat the following:
Benefits of Feverfew
Although research on feverfew's health effects is limited, studies have looked at the use of the herb in these conditions:
In a 2005 study of 170 migraine patients, researchers found that those who took feverfew extract for 16 weeks experienced 1.9 fewer attacks per month than they had before the study started. (Study members who took a placebo for the same amount of time, meanwhile, experienced 1.3 fewer attacks per month.)
In a 2004 review of five clinical trials, however, investigators found insufficient evidence to suggest that feverfew is more effective than placebo in preventing migraine.
Test-tube experiments have demonstrated that feverfew may help fight the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, although no human studies have proven feverfew to be more useful than placebo in treatment of this disease.
In a 2005 study, scientists discovered that parthenolide extracted from feverfew inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells in the lab. However, it's too soon to tell whether feverfew may be useful in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
How to Use Feverfew
Feverfew is available in capsule, tablet, and liquid extract form, and is sold in most health food stores.
Safety Precautions for Feverfew
Although feverfew is generally considered safe, side effects may include minor stomach upset (such as nausea, diarrhea, and flatulence).
Patients who stop long-term use of feverfew may also experience muscle stiffness, moderate pain, and anxiety.
If you're allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemum, or marigold, you may be sensitive to feverfew.
Anyone taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication should consult their doctor before using feverfew.
Diener HC, Pfaffenrath V, Schnitker J, Friede M, Henneicke-von Zepelin HH. "Efficacy and safety of 6.25 mg t.i.d. feverfew CO2-extract (MIG-99) in migraine prevention--a randomized, double-blind, multicentre, placebo-controlled study." Cephalalgia. 2005 Nov;25(11):1031-41.
Pittler MH, Ernst E. "Feverfew for preventing migraine." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD002286.
Setty AR, Sigal LH. "Herbal medications commonly used in the practice of rheumatology: mechanisms of action, efficacy, and side effects." Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2005 34(6):773-84.
Yip-Schneider MT, Nakshatri H, Sweeney CJ, Marshall MS, Wiebke EA, Schmidt CM. "Parthenolide and sulindac cooperate to mediate growth suppression and inhibit the nuclear factor-kappa B pathway in pancreatic carcinoma cells." Mol Cancer Ther. 2005 4(4):587-94.