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Feverfew: Tanacetum Parthenium, Midsummer daisy, Bachelor's buttons, Altamisa, Featherfew

Botany: 

Feverfew is one of the easiest plants to cultivate and it thrives in almost any type of soil, but it prefers well-drained soil in a sunny location, although the plant will tolerate half-shade. It has white, daisy-like flowers with yellow center and serrated leaves that grows to around one to three feet tall (Saskatchewan). It is a perennial or a tender annual that will thrive in either full sun or partial shade (Foster) 

Chemistry: 

The active ingredients in feverfew are tanetin and parthenolide. It is thought that the combination of these two substances inhibits the release of serotonin and prostaglandins which in turn limits inflammation in the brain (Kihlstrom). This puts less pressure on the brain and therefore causes a smaller amount of headaches and less severe migraines. In 2005, Parthenolide was shown to induce cell death in leukemia cancer stem cells (Hitti). Aveeno has recently come out with skin care product that utilizes feverfew to calm irritated skin (Aveeno).

Fun Fact: 

A 16th century herbalist once claimed that Feverfew, dried and taken with honey, would “purgeth by siege” those that are “giddie in the head”

History:

Uses/Pharmacology:

 Feverfew has been used traditionally for hundreds of years to treat (as the name implies) a high fever. It was native to the Caucuses and Balkin peninsula but cultivation has spread it to North America, Europe, the Mediterranean, and Chili (Foster). Other uses include treating migraines, arthritis, and digestive problems. Mexicans and others cultures rely on Feverfew to repel many different kinds of insects (Pierce)

Dosing/Recipes: 

Feverfew can currently be taken many different ways. The most common form is to just eat 2-3 leaves (dried or fresh) daily with or without food (Duke). Many people mask the bitterness of the leaves by taking feverfew with some kind of sweetener (Pierce). It has been proven most successfully to treat chronic migraines, fever, and even arthritis. Other forms of feverfew include tablets or capsules of feverfew, which usually contain about 205 mcg of the plant, and steeping the leaves in a tea (Duke). Also, one could take a dose of about four to eight milliliters of liquid leaf extract if they preferred (Pierce).

There are very few recipes that use feverfew due to its very bitter taste. Some people enjoy adding it to a tossed salad so that the other leaves and dressing masks the taste. According to crazyfortea.com, “Feverfew tea can be prepared by steeping 1 teaspoon dried leaves in 8 ounces of boiling water for 10 minutes. After straining the liquid can be drunk or used on the skin.”

Contraindications/Interactions/Adverse Reactions: 

Care should be taken in pregnant women as feverfew may cause miscarriages and abortions.  While no serious toxic actions have been detected (Crellin and Philpott), side effects include canker sores, nausea, bloating, menstrual cramps, and early uterine contractions (Pierce). Do not, under any circumstance, take feverfew if you are allergic to any other plants in the daisy family such as ragweed or chamomile (Pierce)

References Cited:

Crellin, John K. and Jane Philpott. Herbal Medicine Past and Present - Volume II. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1989.

Duke, James A. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs - Second Edition. New York: CRC Press, 2002.

Foster, Steve. Feverfew. 17 February 2009. 25 April 2009 <http://nccam.nih.gov/health/feverfew/>.

Grieve, Mrs. M. Tanacetum parthenium. 2009. 25 April 2009 <http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/feverf10.html>.

Hitti, Miranda. Chemical in Feverfew Plant May Fight Leukemia. 25 February 2005. 25 April 2009 <http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20050225/chemical-in-feverfew-plant-may....

Kihlstrom, Lucy Canter. Feverfew. 2000. 26 April 2009 <http://www.institute-shot.com/Feverfew.htm>.

Saskatchewan, Governement of. Feverfew. 6 April 2006. 25 April 2009 <http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=5a05a8da-ff3e-490b-b280....

Tanacetum parthenium. 27 June 2003. 25 April 2009 <http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=TAPA6>.

Researched By: Ryan Hemmert