Feverfew is an herb that is often found in supplements used for the prevention of migraine headaches. It is available over-the-counter and comes in the form of tablets, capsules, and liquid extracts. Although feverfew appears to be effective for preventing migraines, further research is needed to establish its safety and effectiveness. Potential side effects include nausea, heartburn, and diarrhea.
What Is Feverfew?
Feverfew is a perennial herb that is often grown for its small, daisy-like flowers. It has long been used for its medicinal properties. Feverfew is best known for its use in preventing migraines, but it is also used for a variety of other purposes. It is available in tablets, capsules, and liquid extracts, although many people simply eat the leaves right off the plant.
It is not known exactly how feverfew works. The leaves (the active part of the plant) contain numerous different chemicals that may have medicinal properties. It is thought that the parthenolide component of the plant may be responsible for many of its effects. Parthenolide inhibits several enzymes and chemicals in the body that cause pain, inflammation, and other problems. Specifically, parthenolide may inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and interleukin 1 (IL-1). Several other chemicals in feverfew may contribute to its effects as well.
Is Feverfew Effective?
Feverfew appears to be effective for preventing migraines, although further research is needed to establish how to safely and effectively use it. The herb has not been shown to be effective for other uses.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 2, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: Feverfew (December 2006). NCCAM Web site. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/feverfew/. Accessed January 2, 2008.
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