Feverfew uses have spread far and wide from their original roots in Asia Minor. Today, the plant is grown worldwide and is often used to treat migraines thanks to a potent chemical called parthenolide. The plant is commonly dried for medicinal use and extracts are also made. But what is feverfew and what are the benefits of feverfew? Keep reading to find out!
Benefits of Feverfew
Feverfew has been called “medieval aspirin” because it was widely used to reduce fevers and also treat inflammatory conditions. The compounds in feverfew that promote these properties include parthenolide, flavonoids, and other oils.
Feverfew also contains the flavonoid glycosides luteolin and apigenin. There are some reports that the plant’s leaves contain melatonin, an important hormone that promotes sleep.
Parthenolide is the main compound and the major contributor to the benefits of feverfew.
Extensive studies are lacking on many of the benefits that are linked to this extract, but there are a lot of anecdotal benefits that people have boasted about for centuries. The key most important benefits are:
Fights Against Migraines
Migraines are the main reason people have used feverfew for centuries. Feverfew appears to work so well for migraine relief that it has been the focus of most studies on the plant. The studies conducted include:
- 2011 systematic review into feverfew found that the migraine benefits were first listed in 1978 in the British Health Magazine. The person, 68 years old, was completely able to stop her migraines after eating three leaves daily for ten months. Another study found that after taking feverfew for a period of six months, participants reported fewer headaches than the placebo group.
- 2013 study examined transient receptor potential (TRP) and ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) due to their involvement in migraines. The study suggests that feverfew was able to target TRPA1. It was found that feverfew was able to desensitize the TRPA1 channel in rats. Overall, the study found that feverfew was able to provide adequate relief from migraines. The antimigraine effect is associated with parthenolide.
There are mixed results in other studies where participants noted only slightly higher levels of migraine and headache relief compared to the placebo group. While the research seems to be mixed, the majority of studies do show a high level of efficacy in reducing migraines and headaches.
Feverfew may also have cancer-fighting properties, according to numerous studies. One study from 2017 found that the compounds in this plant were able to suppress non-small cell lung cancer growth.
A slightly older study from 2012 looked at the cytotoxic effects of parthenolide on two breast cancer cell lines. The study found that the compound had anticancer properties, leading to the potential as a drug candidate for breast cancer treatment.
There have been a number of additional studies showing that this compound promotes apoptotic cell death and also prevents SW620 cells from migrating.
While feverfew should not be the only treatment for a person with cancer, it is a strong alternative that can be used alongside traditional medicine to reduce cancer risks. If you’re on medication, speak to your doctor before taking any supplements.
Anti-inflammatory properties have been linked to feverfew since medieval times, and there is now evidence that this plant can help fight inflammation. The study, conducted in 2015 found that widespread pain relief was possible when using the flower extract of Tanacetum parthenium, or feverfew.
The study’s goal was to find new therapeutic strategies that control pain.
Dosage ranges were vast, from 30mg to 1,000mg. Participants in the study suffered from a list of conditions, and tests show that the extract was able to:
- Reduce hypersensitivity
- Significantly reduce osteoarthritis pain in 30 minutes
The study found that in all cases, feverfew acted as a potent pain reliever and helped with inflammation, neuropathic pain, acute pain, and articular pain. Leaf extracts were less effective in some studies versus direct injections or other feverfew uses.
Anxiety and depression are two things most people will experience throughout their lives. Feverfew has been shown to provide a general mood increase, with the ability to help combat both anxiety and depression.
A study from 2017 found that feverfew was able to provide anxiety relief in people that were evaluated during a forced swimming test. Mice exhibited lower depression and anxiety in the test, too.
Mood increases are an added benefit of taking feverfew and can also help people that are suffering from pain.
Feverfew can be applied topically to help treat rosacea, which is a common skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels in the face. In some cases, rosacea produces small pus-filled bumps.
Topical creams containing feverfew can help reduce inflammation, which is a major contributor to the development of rosacea.
Feverfew has a variety of uses, and while the extract or leaf are both potent, dosing varies greatly based on the desired result. Feverfew can be used in several key ways, including:
- Extract: The extract can be taken orally and should be consumed in amounts no more than 50 to 100mg per day.
- Fresh Leaf: You can consume two leaves per day.
- Topical: Topical applications are far less common, but they can help treat skin conditions. The extracts often have parthenolide removed because it is known for irritating the skin.
Feverfew Side Effects
Dosage levels may vary from person to person. Be sure to monitor for any potential side effects during the first few dosages and cease taking feverfew if you do notice any adverse reactions that may present themselves.
Side effects of feverfew are not serious, and when taken orally, the leaf or extract is considered likely safe. Short-term usage is considered taking feverfew for four months or less. Safety beyond this duration hasn’t been adequately studied.
The most common side effects include:
- Fatigue or tiredness
Feverfew benefits can help you combat migraines and headaches – among many other things discussed above. If you suffer from migraines, using Feverfew may help ease the migraines or stop them completely.