feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium, aka Chrysanthemum parthenium, Matricaria parthenium and Pyrethrum parthenium) is a flowering medicinal perennial herb belonging to the daisy family. it is traditionally used to prevent and treat migraines. like valerian, feverfew is native to eastern europe and asia, but can be grown in many climates around the world.
historically headaches, infertility, stomach and toothaches, and insect bites have been treated with feverfew. it has also been used to promote menstruation, ease childbirth and induce abortion. for this reason, pregnant women should never ingest feverfew, as it may trigger miscarriage.
today, feverfew has also been used to treat psoriasis, asthma, nausea, dizziness, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and tinnitus. however, most studies on feverfew have focused on its use as a preventative treatment for migraine headaches. studies suggest that feverfew will reduce the frequency of migraine headaches for about two thirds of those who use it consistently, and one study found it reduces rheumatoid arthritis in some sufferers. little research has been done to investigate the plant’s other uses.
PREPARATION AND USE
fresh: chew 1-4 fresh leaves daily (this approach causes the unfortunate side effect of mouth sores in 10-18% of users)
tea: pour boiled water over 2-8 fresh leaves. take care not to boil the leaves, as this can break down one of the plant’s active chemicals (parthenolide).
capsules: this is the most commonly used method for taking feverfew, and their use causes no mouth sores. capsules are offered in many different dosages.
tincture: soak fresh leaves in potable alcohol (pretty much anything except rubbing alcohol. the most widely used are vodka and everclear) for 4-6 weeks. strain the leaves out and store the tincture in a dark jar and keep in a cool, dark place. apply the tincture directly onto insect bites to reduce the associated pain and swelling. a few teaspoonfuls of the tincture mixed with cool water can also be applied to exposed skin and used as an insect repellant.
my seeds came from southern exposure seed exchange, but the seeds, capsules and tinctures are available all over.
the green pharmacy, by james a duke ph.d.