Feverfew leaf (Tanacetum parthenium)
Feverfew is a flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae. It is a traditional medicinal herb which is commonly used to prevent migraine headaches and is also occasionally grown for ornament. It is also commonly seen in the literature by its synonyms, Chrysanthemum parthenium and Pyrethrum parthenium. It is also sometimes referred to as bachelor’s buttons or feverfew.
The name stems from the Latin word febrifugia, “fever reducer.” The first-century Greek physician Dioscorides prescribed feverfew for “all hot inflammations.” The ancient Greeks called the herb “Parthenium,” supposedly because it was used medicinally to save the life of someone who had fallen from the Parthenon during its construction in the 5th century BC. The first-century Greek physician Dioscorides used feverfew as an antipyretic. Feverfew also was known as “medieval aspirin” or the “aspirin” of the 18th century.
Common names: Chrysanthemum parthenium , Feverfew, featherfew, altamisa, bachelor’s button, featherfoil, febrifuge plant, midsummer daisy, nosebleed, Santa Maria, wild chamomile, wild quinine, chamomile grande, chrysanthemum atricaire, federfoy, flirtwort, Leucanthemum parthenium, Matricaria capensis, Matricaria eximia hort, Matricaria parthenium L., MIG-99, mother herb, Parthenium hysterophorus, parthenolide, Pyrenthrum parthenium L, European feverfew, feather-fully, feddygen fenyw, flirtroot, grande chamomile, mutterkraut, and vetter-voo.
Feverfew is native to Eurasia, specifically the Balkan Peninsula, Anatolia and the Caucasus, but cultivation has spread it around the world and it is now also found in the rest of Europe, North America and Chile.
Uses: The plant has been used to treat arthritis, asthma, constipation, dermatitis, earache, fever, headache, inflammatory conditions, insect bites, labor, menstrual disorders, potential miscarriage, psoriasis, spasms, stomach ache, swelling, tinnitus, toothache, vertigo, and worms. Feverfew also has been used as an abortifacient, as an insecticide, and for treating coughs and colds. Traditionally, the herb has been used as an antipyretic, from which its common name is derived.
History: In Central and South America, the plant has been used to treat a variety of disorders. The Kallaway Indians of the Andes mountains value its use for treating colic, kidney pain, morning sickness, and stomach ache. Costa Ricans use a decoction of the herb to aid digestion, as a cardiotonic, an emmenagogue, and as an enema for worms. In Mexico, it is used as an antispasmodic and as a tonic to regulate menstruation. In Venezuela, it is used for treating earaches.
The leaves are ingested fresh or dried, with a typical daily dose of 2–3 leaves. The bitterness is often sweetened before ingestion. Feverfew also has been planted around houses to purify the air because of its strong, lasting odor, and a tincture of its blossoms is used as an insect repellant and balm for bites. It has been used as an antidote for overindulgence in opium.
Properties: It has multiple pharmacologic properties, such as anticancer, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, antispasmodic, an emmenagogue, and as an enema for worms.
The plant contains a large number of natural properties, but the active principles probably include one or more of the sesquiterpene lactones known to be present, including parthenolide. Other potentially active constituents include flavonoid glycosides and pinenes. There has been some scientific interest in parthenolide, which has been shown to induce apoptosis in some cancer cell lines in vitro and potentially to target cancer stem cells.
Health Benefits of Feverfew
Migraines: It is one of the few herbs with substantial scientific evidence for its efficacy in migraine prophylaxis. Most RCTs and surveys of individuals using feverfew for migraine prevention have documented beneficial results. Not only has feverfew demonstrated a reduction in migraine frequency and pain intensity, but also a profound reduction has been observed in typical accompanying symptoms, including vomiting, nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia.
Anxiety and Stress: Although the pathway for this particular benefit is not fully understood, feverfew has been known to reduce stress and alleviate anxiety in some users. This is very important for those who suffer from chronic stress, as the presence of stress hormones in the body can be dangerous over long periods.
Lower Inflammation: Some of the volatile compounds in feverfew have anti-inflammatory abilities, which effectively reduces inflammation throughout the body. For those who suffer from chronic joint pain, arthritis, gout, and other inflammatory conditions, herbal treatment with feverfew is a painless and effective solution.
Pain Reduction: This is closely related to the anti-inflammatory effects of feverfew, but any analgesic substance deserves some recognition. For thousands of years, feverfew has been used to prevent pain throughout the body, not just the pain of headaches and migraines. Following surgery or an injury, it can be successfully utilized for rapid and long-lasting relief.
Fever Symptoms: Traditionally, feverfew has been used to break and eliminate fevers. The name of the plant should be some indication of this ability. If you are suffering from a fever, whether it is linked to another more serious illness or not, it can help to promote sweating and eliminate toxins from the body, speeding the healing process and reducing inflammation.
Menstrual Discomfort: One of the popular uses of feverfew is in the reduction of discomfort during menstruation. For billions of women around the world, menstruation can be a painful monthly occurrence that includes cramps, bloating, hormonal swings, pain, and excessive bleeding. It can effectively lower inflammation, eliminate cramps, and induce calm to reduce mood swings and anxiety.
Appetite Booster: For people trying to gain weight or recovering from an injury/surgery, increasing one’s appetite can be very important. Feverfew has been linked to certain hormonal activity that induces hunger. While this may not be ideal for people trying to stay on a diet, it can certainly help the healing process and weight gain efforts for those individuals who may be underweight or calorie-deficient.
Respiratory Function: The soothing ability of feverfew also extends to the respiratory tract, where this herb is able to reduce inflammation and irritation, which can often exacerbate conditions like asthma or coughing. By allowing the respiratory tracts to relax, it can help soothe these symptoms and improve overall respiratory health.
Skin Guard: One of the more recent health benefits of feverfew is its role in skin health. Research is ongoing on the full effects of feverfew on the skin, but when it comes to dermatitis and other common forms of irritation, it has been shown to improve symptoms when topically applied.
Heart Health: Feverfew can inhibit the production of certain prostaglandins in the body that are responsible for increasing blood pressure. By reducing symptoms of hypertension, feverfew can protect overall heart health and lower the chances of experiencing atherosclerosis, and the consequent heart attacks and strokes linked to that particular blockage of the cardiovascular system.
How to Take: Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details
The standard adult dose for feverfew supplementation is 100-300 mg of a feverfew supplement containing 0.2%-0.4% parthenolide, taken one to four times a day.
Children younger than two should not be given feverfew. The standard feverfew dose for children is based off of a standard adult weight of 150 lbs. For example, if a child weighs 50lbs, the dose is one-third of the adult dose.
Liquid and tincture feverfew supplements are sometimes used to alleviate arthritis. The suggested dose is 60 – 120 drops of 1:1 (fluid) supplement or a 1:5 (tincture) supplement, taken twice a day.
Essential Oil of the Root of Tanacetum parthenium: The roots and rhizomes of Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Schulz. Bip. (Asteraceae), have been used in Iranian traditional medicine under the name of Aqhovan, as digestive and stomachic tonic. Composition of the essential oil, which was obtained from the root of T. parthenium collected from Karaj, was determined by gas chromatography, combined GC/MS and GC/IR. In total, 20 components (92% of essential oil) were identified. Major constituents were camphor (30.2%), (Z)- chrysanthenyl acetate (26.5%), α-farnesene (11.1%) and spathulenol (8.2%).
Common side effects: oral ulcers and tongue soreness if dried leaves are chewed. It can cause increased heart rates, dizziness, anxiety, sleeplessness, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.
Long-term use of feverfew followed by abrupt discontinuation may induce a withdrawal syndrome featuring rebound headaches and muscle and joint pains. Feverfew can cause allergic reactions, including contact dermatitis.
Other side effects have included gastrointestinal upset such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and flatulence. When the herb is chewed or taken orally it can cause mouth ulcers and swelling and numbness of the mouth. Feverfew should not be taken by pregnant women. It may interact with blood thinners and increase the risk of bleeding and may also interact with a variety of medications metabolized by the liver.