Feverfew for Migraine
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Christina Rose
Posted on: September 29, 1998

I would like to know about a plant that is called "Feverfew" which is used for migraines. I know that it can be made into tea which is very bitter or you may buy it in capsule form. Is it safe, does it work and what health ailments that it should not be taken with?

Feverfew has been shown to reduce the severity or prevent altogether migraine headache. How exactly it does this is unclear. It was formerly thought that a compound called parthenolide found in the leaves and flowers is responsible, but that view is now in doubt.

By all accounts feverfew is relatively safe. The main problem reported is that it can cause allergic reactions in some people. It must be taken over a long period (several months) before the anti-migraine effect takes hold and during this time some people can develop allergies to feverfew. However, the rate of incidence is low. Patients experiencing allergic reactions should stop taking feverfew. Most reports of allergies were from patients eating fresh leaves daily. When taken as a tablet, the incidence of allergies is considerably less.

There are some suggestions that long term feverfew use can damage smooth muscles irreversibly. It is unclear how serious this problem is, and at this point one must weigh the fact that the herb has been used by millions of people with very few reports of problems over the years.

For more information on feverfew, have a look at Ken Hancock’s book, "Feverfew: Your Headache May Be Over" (available from Richters).

Feverfew is easy to grow in the garden. It is a hardy perennial with attractive displays of white daisy flowers in summer and fall. It comes in many forms, including a golden leaf form.

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