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Live Naturally with Herbs: Medicinal Properties of Feverfew

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 by: Katherine East
Tags: Feverfew, herbs, health news

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(NewsTarget) Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a strongly aromatic perennial herb, originally from the mountainous regions of the Balkan Peninsula but now spread throughout temperate climates worldwide. Feverfew has a multitude of small, daisy-like flowers with white petals around a yellow centre and is often confused with Chamomile. The leaves have been used in traditional medicine throughout history for various ailments including reducing fever and treating headaches, toothache, arthritic pain, digestive problems, insect bites, infertility, and problems with menstruation and with labor during childbirth.

Medicinal Uses of Feverfew
Feverfew is probably best known for its therapeutic effect on migraines. Studies done in Great Britain in the 1980's suggested that Feverfew taken daily as dried leaf capsules may reduce the incidence of attacks in patients who experience long-term migraine headaches.

The active compound in Feverfew called parthenolide occurs in a variety of medicinal plants used in traditional medicine. It seems to block substances in the body that widen and constrict blood vessels and cause inflammation leading to migraines. Not all studies on Feverfew and migraines have had positive results and it would appear that the effectiveness of Feverfew and migraine relief depends upon the timing of taking the treatment (ie. as you feel the headache coming on), as well as the quality of the supplement. Feverfew tablets and capsules must be standardized to contain a minimum of 0.2 % parthenolide.

Feverfew has also been used for centuries for arthritis. It is thought to hinder the production of prostaglandins. These are hormone-like substances that cause pain and inflammation. This anti-inflammatory action has led to Feverfew being used to treat the inflamed, sore joints that occur with rheumatoid arthritis. Some studies have found that the anti-inflammatory effects of this herb are greater than those achieved by NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Feverfew may also inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Feverfew is an excellent insect repellent and can also be used to treat insect bites. Historically Feverfew was used to treat a number of external ailments including scabies, fleas and lice, when applied as a lotion.

Dosage of Feverfew
Feverfew can be taken as a tea but the medicinal compounds make it extremely bitter. It may be more palatable if mixed with some honey or taken with food. The bitter taste actually acts as a tonic but it really is an acquired taste. You can use fresh or dried leaves added to boiling hot water.

To help prevent migraine headaches, the usual dose is 200 to 250 milligrams daily in capsule form. For relief of pain: 25 to 75 milligrams in capsule form once or twice daily, or 2-3 leaves/day with or after meals. Doses that have been used in the treatment of arthritis include 76 milligrams of dried Feverfew leaves. Feverfew supplements are available fresh, freeze-dried, or dried and can be purchased in capsule, tablet, or liquid extract forms.

Cautions For Using Herbs
Herbs can contain powerful substances and should never be taken without the guidance of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.
Feverfew may increase the tendency to bleed (prevent blood-clotting) so check with your health care practitioner if you are taking anticoagulants before embarking on a Feverfew treatment.
Sudden discontinuation of Feverfew can result in withdrawal symptoms including headaches, irritability, trouble sleeping and joint pain.

1. Modi S, Lowder DM. Medications for migraine prophylaxis. American Family Physician 2006; 73: 72-78.
2. http://www.vitamins-supplements.org/herbal-s...
3. http://www.zhion.com/herb/Feverfew.html
4. Illustrated Book Of Herbs - New Holland Publishers LTD

About the author

Katherine Oosthuis is completing a Diploma in Nutritional Therapy. She researches and writes for a health and nutrition website Detox For Life . Her passion is to make research available to those who are looking to improve their well-being and revolutionise their health through better nutrition and alternative medicines.

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