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Home > Health Library > Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
Overview
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), a member of the sunflower family, has been used for centuries in European folk medicine as a remedy for headaches, arthritis, and fevers. The name feverfew comes from a Latin word meaning "fever reducer."

Feverfew is used most often today to treat migraine headaches.
Feverfew products usually contain dried feverfew leaves, but all parts of the plant that grow above ground may be used. Researchers thought a substance called parthenolide, which helps relieve spasms in smooth muscle tissue, was what made feverfew effective against migraines.
Parthenolide may also act as an anti-inflammatory and may inhibit cancer cell growth.

What is feverfew?
Feverfew is an herbal supplement that is most commonly used for preventing migraines.

Benefits & Uses
Migraine Headaches
Feverfew was popular in Great Britain in the 1980s as an alternative treatment for migraine headaches. A survey of 270 people with migraines in Great Britain found that more than 70% of them felt much better after taking an average of 2 - 3 fresh feverfew leaves daily. Several human studies have used feverfew for migraine prevention and treatment. Overall, these studies suggest that taking dried leaf capsules of feverfew daily may reduce the number of migraines in people who have chronic migraines.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some laboratory tests show that feverfew can reduce inflammation, so it has been proposed as a potential treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. But a human study found that feverfew was no better than placebo in improving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Feverfew supplements are available fresh, freeze-dried, or dried. They can be purchased in capsule, tablet, or liquid extract forms.

Best Form for Consumption
Feverfew supplements are available fresh, freeze-dried, or dried. They can be purchased in capsule, tablet, or liquid extract forms.

Dosage
For preventing migraine headaches: 50-100 mg of feverfew extract daily.

Side Effects
Feverfew is LIKELY SAFE for most people when used short-term (up to four months). Side effects might include upset stomach, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, flatulence, nausea, and vomiting. Other reported side effects include nervousness, dizziness, headache, trouble sleeping, joint stiffness, tiredness, menstrual changes, rash, pounding heart, and weight gain.

Some people chew feverfew instead of swallowing it in a pill. Chewing fresh feverfew leaves can cause mouth sores; swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips; and loss of taste.

Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Feverfew is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken during pregnancy. There is concern that it might cause early contractions and miscarriage. Don’t use feverfew if you are pregnant. The safety of feverfew during breast-feeding isn’t known. It’s best to avoid using feverfew if you are breast-feeding.

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Feverfew may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking feverfew.

Surgery: Feverfew might slow blood clotting. It might cause bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking feverfew at least 2 weeks before a scheduled

surgery.
Interaction
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with FEVERFEW. Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Feverfew might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking feverfew along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking feverfew, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), haloperidol (Haldol), ondansetron (Zofran), propranolol (Inderal), theophylline (Theo-Dur, others), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, others), and others.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) substrates) interacts with FEVERFEW. Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.

Feverfew might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking feverfew along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking feverfew, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and pantoprazole (Protonix); diazepam (Valium); carisoprodol (Soma); nelfinavir (Viracept); and others.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates) interacts with FEVERFEW. Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.

Feverfew might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking feverfew along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking feverfew, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), ibuprofen (Motrin), meloxicam (Mobic), and piroxicam (Feldene); celecoxib (Celebrex); amitriptyline (Elavil); warfarin (Coumadin); glipizide (Glucotrol); losartan (Cozaar); and others.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with FEVERFEW. Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.

Feverfew might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking feverfew along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking feverfew, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with FEVERFEW. Feverfew might slow blood clotting. Taking feverfew along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Reference & Research
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arw Curry EA 3rd, Murry DJ, Yoder C, et al., Phase I dose escalation trial of feverfew with standardized doses of parthenolide in patients with cancer. Invest New Drugs. 2004;22(3):299-305.
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