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Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium L.)

Compositae Composite family

Feverfew, also known as featherfew and bachelor's buttons, is native to southwest Europe and was brought to America originally as an ornamental. It is commercially cultivated in Japan, Africa and Europe. Greek and European herbalists traditionally used it to reduce fevers.

The herb has a long history of use in traditional and folk medicine as a treatment for disorders often controlled by aspirin, such as fever, headaches and some of the accompanying symptoms such as nausea and depression.

Recently feverfew has been gaining fame as a effective treatment for migraine headaches. It may also help ease diseases caused by chronic inflammation such as arthritis. It is an aromatic plant with a strong and lasting odor, it has been used externally as an insect repellent and for treating insect bites.

Medicinal Properties: Carminative (gas relief), emmenagogue (promotes menstrual flow), purgative (strong laxative), stimulant, bitter tonic, antipyretic (reduces fever), aperient (mild laxative), anti-inflammatory, vermifuge

Biochemical Information: Essential oil containing camphor, terpene, borneol, various esters and a bitter principle, pyrethrin, tannin, sesquiterpene lactones


Once in popular use, feverfew has fallen into considerable disuse; even its name no longer seems to fit. It is also hard to find, even at herbal outlets. If you are lucky enough to get it, try the warm infusion for colic, flatulence, eructations, indigestion, flu, colds, fever, ague, freckles, age spots, and alcoholic DTs. A cold extract has a tonic effect. The flowers in particular show a purgative action. Effective remedy against opium taken too liberally.

Infusion: Use 1 heaping tsp. of the herb with 1 cup water. Take 1 to 2 cups, as indicated. For DTs, take 15 to 40 drops, as often as required.

Relieves headaches, migraines, arthritis, neuritis, neuralgia, indigestion, colds, and muscle tension. Eliminates worms. Stimulates the appetite, increases fluidity of lung an bronchial tube mucus, stimulates uterine contractions, and promotes menses.

It is the combination of ingredients in the feverfew plant that brings such effective relief. It works to inhibit the release of two inflammatory substances, serotonin and prostaglandins, both believed to contribute to the onset of migraines. By inhibiting these amines as well as the production of the chemical histamine, the herb controls inflammation that constricts the blood vessels in the head, and prevents blood vessel spasms which may contribute to headaches.

The plant is rich in sesquiterpene lactones, the principal one being parthenolide. Other constituents include essential oils, flavonoid glycosides, pinene derivatives and costic acid. Feverfew should be taken regularly to receive maximum benefit and protection from migraines.

The tea, drunk cold, may also relieve skin perspiration associated with migraines, and has been used to stimulate appetite, and improve digestion and kidney function.

Clinical tests have shown the use of feverfew may reduce of frequency and severity of headaches. It may be more effective than other nonsteroidal antiinflammatories (NSAIDS), like aspirin. Additional benefits include lower blood pressure, less stomach irritation and a renewed sense of well-being.

It may also relieve dizziness, tinnitus, and painful or sluggish menstruation. Its extracts have been claimed to relieve asthma, coughs, dermatitis and worms.

Parts Used: Leaves and flowers in extract, infusion, and dried in capsules.

Common Use: The herb has historically been used as remedy for headache, inflammation and as a general substitute for ailments treated with aspirin. Its most popular use is for the prevention of migraine headaches and associated symptoms. Pregnant women should not use the herb, and some people have developed mouth ulcers or experienced loss of taste from eating the fresh leaves.


Do not use for migraine resulting from a weak, deficiency condition. Seek medical advice.

May cause dermatitis or allergic reactions. Mouth sores are common. Some people have developed mouth ulcers while taking feverfew. Discontinue use if this occurs. Usually this condition comes from the fresh leaves, try sauteing the leaves first.

Patients taking blood thinning drugs should avoid taking feverfew because it can affect the clotting times of the blood.


Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; pgs., 126-127.
The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, pgs., 24, 152, 186.
Complete Herbal & English Physician, by Nicholas Culpeper, pgs., 72-73.
Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, pgs., 94-96.
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, pgs., 102, 132-133.
Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, pgs., 125-126.
American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, pg., 287.
Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., pgs., 84.
Country Home Book of Herbs, Meredith Books, edited by Molly Culbertson, pgs., 52, 96.
Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., pgs., 85, 123, 159.
The Rodale Herb Book, edited by William H. Hylton, pgs., 281, 440-443.
The Herb Book, by John Lust, pgs., 195-196, 573, 574.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., pg., 52.
Herb Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, pgs., 59, 61.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Disclaimer: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

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