Photograph © 2000, Lucy Canter Kihlstrom, PhD.
Medicinal Parts: The leaves of the plant.
Demonstrated Uses: This herbal remedy has not been approved by the Commission E. However, it is used most commonly for migraine, arthritis, rheumatic diseases and allergies. Exercise caution when purchasing or using commercially available feverfew tablets because some have been found to contain little of the labeled amount of active plant material (Groenewegen & Heptinstall, 1986). More clinical tests are needed in order to determine the active ingredients and effects of this herbal.
How it Works: The sesquiterpene lactones contained in feverfew, especially parthenolide, may help the smooth muscles in the walls of the cerebral blood vessels and make them less sensitive to other substances, norepinephrine, prostaglandins, and serotonin, that occur naturally in the body. The active material in feverfew may influence these naturally occurring substances as well. The antimigraine effect that may result from using feverfew is similar to that of methysergide, a serotonin antagonist.
Precautions: Feverfew should not be used during pregnancy or breast feeding. In general, no health hazards or side effects are known if the herb is administered properly in the correct dosage.
Daily Dosage: If capsules are used, the recommended daily dosage is 200 to 250 mg for the treatment of migraines (with .2% parthenolide content, Brown, 1996). If fresh leaves are used, 1 to 3 leaves (25 to 75 mg) once or twice daily was recommended (Johnson, et al, 1985; O'Hara, 1998).
Storage: Store the leaves in sealed containers.
Brown, A.M.G., et al. (1996). Inhibition of human neutrophils by aqueous and organic extracts of Tanacetum ssp. In: PM 62, Abstracts of the 44th Annual Congress of GA, Vol. 66.
Groenewegen, W.A. and Heptinstall, S. (1986). Lancet, No. 8471: 44-45.
Johnson, E.S., Kadam, N.P., Hylands, D.M., et al. (August 31, 1985). Efficacy of feverfew as prophylactic treatment of migraine. British Medical Journal, 291(6495): 569.
O'Hara, M.A., Kiefer, D., Farrell, K. et al. (1998). A review of 12 commonly used medicinal herbs. Archives of Family Medicine, 7: 523-536.