Feverfew, also known as featherfew and bachelors buttons, is native to southwest Europe and was brought to America originally as an ornamental. It is commercially cultivated in Japan, Africa and Europe. Greek and European herbalists traditionally used it to reduce fevers.
The herb has a long history of use in traditional and folk medicine as a treatment for disorders often controlled by aspirin, such as fever, headaches and some of the accompanying symptoms such as nausea and depression.
Recently feverfew has been gaining fame as a effective treatment for migraine headaches. It may also help ease diseases caused by chronic inflammation such as arthritis. It is an aromatic plant with a strong and lasting odor, it has been used externally as an insect repellent and for treating insect bites.
It is the combination of ingredients in the feverfew plant that brings such effective relief. It works to inhibit the release of two inflammatory substances, serotonin and prostaglandins, both believed to contribute to the onset of migraines. By inhibiting these amines as well as the production of the chemical histamine, the herb controls inflammation that constricts the blood vessels in the head, and prevents blood vessel spasms which may contribute to headaches.
The plant is rich in sesquiterpene lactones, the principal one being parthenolide. Other constituents include essential oils, flavonoid glycosides, pinene derivatives and costic acid. Feverfew should be taken regularly to receive maximum benefit and protection from migraines.
The tea, drunk cold, may also relieve skin perspiration associated with migraines, and has been used to stimulate appetite, and improve digestion and kidney function.
Clinical tests have shown the use of feverfew may reduce of frequency and severity of headaches. It may be more effective than other nonsteroidal antiinflammatories (NSAIDS), like aspirin. Additional benefits include lower blood pressure, less stomach irritation and a renewed sense of well-being.
It may also relieve dizziness, tinnitus, and painful or sluggish menstruation. Its extracts have been claimed to relieve asthma, coughs, dermatitis and worms.
Parts Used: Leaves and flowers in extract, infusion, and dried in capsules.
Common Use: The herb has historically been used as remedy for headache, inflammation and as a general substitute for ailments treated with aspirin. Its most popular use is for the prevention of migraine headaches and associated symptoms. Pregnant women should not use the herb, and some people have developed mouth ulcers or experienced loss of taste from eating the fresh leaves.
Care: Feverfew is a hearty perennial that will produce an abundant supply of blossoms. It prefers full sun or partial shade and well-drained average soil.