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Feverfew

Feverfew classification

Feverfew is believed to have anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties. You can buy it over the counter from pharmacies, health food shops and supermarkets. Current evidence is limited but it suggests that feverfew doesn’t have a therapeutic benefit for rheumatoid arthritis.

What is it?

Family: Perennial plant of the sunflower (Compositae) family
Scientific name: Chrysanthemum parthenium, tanacetum parthenium
Other names: Bachelor’s buttons, featherfew, Santa Maria, Mother-herb, altamisa, featherfoil, flirtwort, midsummer daisy, febrifuge plant

Feverfew is a perennial plant originally native to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor but now grown throughout Europe and America. Compounds that are used for medicinal purposes are prepared from the leaves and you can buy it from high-street retailers.

How does it work?

Feverfew is believed to have painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been suggested that it reduces the release of an inflammatory substance, serotonin, from your blood cells and slows down the production of a chemical transmitter in your body called histamine. Both serotonin and histamine play an important role in migraines.

Is it safe?

No major safety problems have been identified in short-term use, but we don’t know about the long-term safety. Reported side-effects from previous studies (mainly on participants who have migraines) include:

  • mouth ulceration
  • indigestion and heartburn
  • colicky abdominal pain
  • dizziness
  • rashes.

Interactions with other drugs haven’t been widely studied, but feverfew might increase the risk of bleeding you take them with anticoagulants.

No recommended safe doses have been found for the use in musculoskeletal conditions. Previous RCTs of feverfew in migraine participants, which showed encouraging results, used doses between 50 and 140 mg of powdered or granulated leaf preparations daily.

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