Principal Proposed Uses
Originally native to the Balkans, this relative of the common daisy was spread by deliberate planting throughout Europe and the Americas. Feverfew's feathery and aromatic leaves have long been used medicinally to improve childbirth, promote menstruation, induce abortions, relieve rheumatic pain, and treat severe headaches.
At that time, the wife of the chief medical officer of the National Coal Board in England suffered from serious migraine headaches. When workers in the industry learned of this fact, a sympathetic miner suggested she try a folk treatment he had used. She followed his advice and chewed feverfew leaves. The results were dramatic: her migraines disappeared almost completely.
Her husband was impressed, too. He used his high office to gain the ear of a physician who specialized in migraine headaches, Dr. E. Stewart Johnson of the London Migraine Clinic. Johnson subsequently experimented with feverfew in his practice and seemed to observe good results. This led to the studies described below.
What Is Feverfew Used for Today?
It is important to remember that serious diseases may occasionally first present themselves as migraine-type headaches. For this reason, proper medical diagnosis is essential if you suddenly start having migraines without a previous history, or if the pattern of your migraines changes significantly.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Feverfew?
Five meaningful double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have been performed to evaluate feverfew's effectiveness as a preventive treatment for migraines. The best of the positive trials used a feverfew extract made by extracting the herb with liquid carbon dioxide. Two other trials that used whole feverfew leaf also found it effective; however, two studies that used feverfew extracts did not find benefit.
The tested liquid-carbon-dioxide feverfew extract is taken at a dose of 6.25 mg 3 times daily. To replicate the dosage of feverfew used in the two positive studies of whole leaf described above, take 80 to 100 mg of powdered whole feverfew leaf daily.
In view of its use as a folk remedy to promote abortions, feverfew should probably not be taken during pregnancy.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe kidney or liver disease has not been established.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 07/16/2015 -