Feverfew

Tanacetum parthenium

Composition: The key constituents are sesquiterpene lactones. Extracts are derived from dried leaves and stems of the plant. 

Description and History: Feverfew is a perennial plant in the daisy family and has been used for centuries for a wide variety of complaints. It is native to Europe, though is now also found in North America and Australia. 

Cross-Reference List: Headache

Migraines: Feverfew has been used traditionally and in studies for both relief and prevention of migraines. In one study, a combination of ginger and feverfew was administered sublingually via a specific over the counter product (LipiGesic™) for patients who had 2-6 headaches per month for the previous 3 months. Sixty volunteers were chosen and randomized to the treatment or a control for one month, to be used when the headache started. The treatment group found less pain and recovery in under 2 hours 63% of the time, while the placebo only recovered that quickly 16% of the time. (Cady, et al, 2011)

In another, feverfew was used prophylactically to prevent headaches. The study also used a specific extract (MIG-99), and participants were treated daily for 12 weeks. The placebo group had 0.3 additional headaches each month during the test period, while the treatment groups saw fewer headaches based on the dose they were given. The treatment group who received 6.25 mg 3x/day had 1.8 fewer headaches each month.

Contraindications: There are known allergic reactions to feverfew; so it should be avoided by those with allergies to other botanicals of the compositae family. As a potential emmenagogue, feverfew should be avoided in pregnancy as a precaution (Pareek, et al, 2011).

Interactions: None known.

Preparations: Feverfew is ideally administered in a capsule, tincture, glycerite, or other liquid extracts. 

Dose: Daily dose of feverfew reflected in clinical trials ranges from 600mg to 1g each day, dosed 1-3x per day for an otherwise healthy adult, indefinitely. Long-term use does require a gradual reduction in dose to avoid “post feverfew syndrome,” adverse events which may occur due to an immediate removal of the treatment. 

Dig Deeper

Cady, R. K., Goldstein, J., Nett, R., Mitchell, R., Beach, M. E., & Browning, R. (2011). A Double‐Blind Placebo‐Controlled Pilot Study of Sublingual Feverfew and Ginger (LipiGesicTMM) in the Treatment of Migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 51(7), 1078-1086.

Pareek, A., Suthar, M., Rathore, G. S., & Bansal, V. (2011). Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review. Pharmacognosy reviews, 5(9), 103.

Pfaffenrath, V., Diener, H. C., Fischer, M., Friede, M., & Henneicke‐von Zepelin, H. H. (2002). The efficacy and safety of Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew) in migraine prophylaxis—a double‐blind, multicentre, randomized placebo‐controlled dose–response study. Cephalalgia, 22(7), 523-532.

Meet Dr Hawkins

Dr. Hawkins brings 20 years of expertise in the integrative health field to her role as Executive Director of the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and the leader of our clinical research team.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Health from Union Institute and University, a Master’s Degree in Health Education & Promotion from the University of Alabama, a post-graduate certificate in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a PhD in Health Research from Middle Tennessee State University, and is completing the post-doctoral Global Scholars Research Training Program at Harvard Medical School. She also holds certifications in numerous natural health fields including aromatherapy, aromatic medicine, herbalism, childbirth education, and labor support.