Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)

Feverfew contains a range of compounds known as sesquiterpene lactones. Over 85% of these are a compound called parthenolide. In test tube studies, parthenolide prevents excessive clumping of platelets and inhibits the release of certain chemicals, including serotonin and some inflammatory mediators.

Although this herb has long been used in migraine prophylaxis, confirmed by clinical studies, the precise mechanism of the action is not yet fully understood. It is thought that the prophylactic action is due to serotonin (5-HT) inhibition, possibly via the neutralization of sulphydryl groups on specific enzymes that are fundamental to platelet aggregation and secretion.

Abnormal platelet behaviour with the release of 5-HT has been implicated in migraine. Parthenolide also interferes with both the contractile and relaxant mechanisms in blood vessels. Many of the patients involved in the clinical trials for migraine prophylaxis also reported that feverfew helped their depression. It helps ease tinnitus and dizziness, and allays nausea and vomiting.

Feverfew has long been reputed to help relieve arthritis, particularly in the painful active inflammatory stage. The sesquiterpene lactones, and particularly parthenolide, have been shown to inhibit human blood platelet aggregation and secretory activity in platelets and polymorphonuclear leucocytes (increased secretion is a feature of rheumatoid arthritis). However, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study over six weeks on 40 females with rheumatoid arthritis showed no beneficial effects.

Feverfew has been used in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea and sluggish menstrual flow, and an infusion may be taken to cleanse the uterus after childbirth. Antimicrobial properties against Gram-positive bacteria, yeasts and filamentous fungi in vitro have been documented for parthenolide; Gram-negative bacteria were not affected.

Herbal products in capsules or tablets providing at least 250mcg of parthenolide per day may be taken. It may take more than a month of use before benefits are noticed.

The fresh leaves can cause mouth ulceration or gastric disturbance so it is recommended that those taking the fresh leaf for migraine prophylaxis should take it with some bread. Its use is contraindicated in pregnancy due to its stimulating action on the uterus.


Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) can help with the following

Emergency Care  

Upcoming Surgical Procedure

Feverfew may interfere with blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding.


May have adverse consequences



A phenolic amine neurotransmitter (C10H12N2O) that is a powerful vasoconstrictor and is found especially in the brain, blood serum and gastric membranes of mammals. Considered essential for relaxation, sleep, and concentration.


Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with one teaspoon herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Tinctures may be used singly or in combination as noted. The high doses of single herbs suggested may be best taken as dried extracts (in capsules), although tinctures (60 drops four times per day) and teas (4 to 6 cups per day) may also be used.


Not just a headache, but a disorder affecting the whole body, characterized by clearly defined attacks lasting from about 4 to 72 hours, separated by headache-free periods; progresses through five distinct phases. Prodrome: experienced by about 50% of migraineurs and starting up to 24 hours before the headache - changes in mood, sensory perception, food craving, excessive yawning, or speech or memory problems. Aura: experienced by about 15% and starting within an hour before the headache - disruption of vision (flashing lights, shimmering zigzag lines, blind spot) or sensation (numbness or 'pins and needles' around the lips or hand), or difficulty speaking. Headache: usually pulsating and occurring on one side of the head, it may occur on both sides of the head and alternate from side to side. Muscles in the neck and scalp may be tender; there may be nausea and the desire not to eat, move, see or hear. Resolution: the headache disappears and the body returns to normal. Resolution may occur over several hours during sleep or rest; an intense emotional experience or vomiting may also end the headache. Postdrome: After the headache stops, the sufferer feels drained, fatigued and tired. Muscles ache, emotions are volatile and thinking is slow.


Specific protein catalysts produced by the cells that are crucial in chemical reactions and in building up or synthesizing most compounds in the body. Each enzyme performs a specific function without itself being consumed. For example, the digestive enzyme amylase acts on carbohydrates in foods to break them down.


A sensation of noise (ringing or roaring) that is caused by a bodily condition and can usually only be heard by the person affected.


Symptoms resulting from an inclination to vomit.


Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage and often an overgrowth of bone at the joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

A long-term, destructive connective tissue disease that results from the body rejecting its own tissue cells (autoimmune reaction).


Tending to destroy microbes, hinder their multiplication or growth.


Microscopic germs. Some bacteria are "harmful" and can cause disease, while other "friendly" bacteria protect the body from harmful invading organisms.


(mcg): 1/1,000 of a milligram in weight.


Lesion on the skin or mucous membrane.

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