Archive for the ‘Feverfew’ Category

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

Feverfew is indigenous to Europe and the Balkan peninsula and is said to have grown around the Greek Parthenon, thus the species name parthenium. Its common name comes from the Latin febri fugia, which means “driver out of fevers.” Feverfew has made its way to both North and South America, where it is now naturalized.

Possible uses

Feverfew is used to relieve headaches, particularly vascular headaches such as migraines. Doctors aren’t sure what causes migraines, but they know these severe headaches involve blood vessel changes. One theory suggests that migraines occur when the blood vessels in the head expand and press on the nerves, causing pain. Another theory proposes that these headaches occur as the blood vessels react to outside stimuli by affecting blood flow to various parts of the brain. Feverfew relaxes tension in the blood vessels in the brain and inhibits the secretion of substances that cause pain or inflammation (such as histamine and serotonin). Studies confirm feverfew’s effectiveness as a migraine remedy.

Although some herbalists believe feverfew is most effective when used long-term to prevent chronic migraines, some people find it helpful when taken at the onset of a headache. Besides vascular headaches, feverfew may also benefit those who experience premenstrual headaches, which are often due to fluid retention and hormonal effects.

Feverfew is also reported to reduce fever and inflammation in joints and tissues. Some physicians recommend it to relieve menstrual cramps and to facilitate delivery placenta following childbirth.

Feverfew contains the substance parthenolide, which has been credited with inhibiting the release of serotonine, histamine, and other inflammatory substances that make blood vessels spasm and become inflamed. Reportedly, the amount of parthenolide varies from plant to plant, so it is wise to know how much of this active ingredient a feverfew product contains before you buy it. One study of commercially available feverfew products found that most of them contained no parthenolide at all. They were dried herbs and because parthenolide is volatile, it had all evaporated. Look for a product contains 0.2 percent parthenolide.

Possible side effects

Feverfew can cause stomach upset. Chewing the raw leaves day after day can irritate the mouth but the irritation subsides once you stop chewing the leaves. Tinctures and capsules do not irritate the mouth. Since feverfew relaxes blood vessels, it can increase blood flow during menstruation and possibly even induce abortion taken in early pregnancy. Keep feverfew out of reach of children. More research is needed to determine the herb’s long-term safety. Extreme overdose may induce a coma or even be potentially fatal due to respiratory failure.

Precautions and warnings

Feverfew is sometimes called tansy, but do not confuse feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) with the herb tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) or with various Senedo species commonly known as the ragworts, which are sometimes also referred to as tansy. You can see the value of using the botanical versus common names here. Avoid feverfew in pregnancy because it may induce abortion of the fetus.

Plant part used

Leaves, primarily.

Preparations and dosage

Feverfew is dried for tinctures, capsules, and infusions or amply eaten fresh. Since feverfew is a lovely garden plant and easy to grow, many herbalists recommend that headache sufferers plant it in their yards, where it will be readily available. The dosage of feverfew depends on the type and quality of the product used. Consuming two to three of the bitter tasting raw leaves each day constitutes a medicinal dosage. Limit consumption to a maximum of four or five leaves a day. If mouth irritation occurs, eat only one leaf at a time; place it in a salad or sandwich to reduce irritation.

Tea: Prepare an infusion using about 1 tablespoon of dried leaves per cup of hot water; steep for ten minutes.

Capsules: Take 1 to 3 per day.

Tincture: Take 10 to 20 drops daily to prevent headache or every half hour at the onset of a migraine. For arthritis and joint inflammation, take a larger dose of 30 to 40 drops two to three times daily.

Be sure to visit Dean Coleman Herbal Luxuries for a full herbal reference chart and herbal remedies guide.


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