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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Feverfew?

Originally native to the Balkans, this relative of the common daisy was spread by deliberate planting throughout Europe and the Americas. Feverfew's feathery and aromatic leaves have long been used medicinally to improve childbirth, promote menstruation, induce abortions, relieve rheumatic pain, and treat severe headaches.

Contrary to popular belief, feverfew is not used for lowering fevers. Actually, according to one source, "feverfew" is a corruption of the name "featherfoil." 1 Featherfoil became featherfew and ultimately feverfew. In a weird historical reversal, this name then led to a widespread belief among herbalists that feverfew could lower fevers. After a while they noticed that it didn't work, and then angrily rejected feverfew as a useless herb! Feverfew remained out of...

Feverfew is primarily used for the preventionof migraine headaches . For this purpose, it is taken daily. There has been no formal investigation of feverfew as a treatmentfor migraines that have already started, although one double-blind study evaluating feverfew as a preventive agent did find hints of possible symptom-reducing benefits. 2 It is important to remember that serious diseases may occasionally first present themselves as migraine-type headaches. For this reason, proper medical diagnosis is essential if you suddenly start having migraines without a previous history, or if the pattern of your migraines changes significantly.

Feverfew is sometimes recommended for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis , but there is no evidence at all that it works.

Safety Issues

Animal studies suggest that feverfew is essentially nontoxic. 3 In one 8-month study, there were no significant differences in side effects between the treated and control groups. 4 There were also no changes in measurements on blood tests and urinalysis.

In a survey involving 300 people, 11.3% reported mouth sores from chewing feverfew leaf, occasionally accompanied by general inflammation of tissues in the mouth. 5 A smaller percentage reported mild gastrointestinal distress. 6 However, mouth sores do not seem to occur in people who use encapsulated feverfew leaf powder, the usual form.

In view of its use as a folk remedy to promote abortions, feverfew should probably not be taken during pregnancy.

Because feverfew might slightly inhibit the activity of...