Feverfew

Tanacetum parthenium or chrysanthemum parthenium.

The aerial parts of the plant are used.

The leaves may be picked throughout the spring and summer, although just before flowering is best.

Functions of feverfew

Feverfew:

  • has gained a well deserved reputation as a primary remedy in the treatment of migraine headaches, especially those that are relieved by applying heat to the head. The leaves can be eaten fresh between slices of bread or other food. Taken alone they can cause mouth ulcers in sensitive people.
  • has a stimulant effect on the uterus, but also has relaxant properties. It can be used to:
    • bring on delayed periods,
    • to relieve period pains and
    • reduce the symptoms associated with premenstrual tension (such as headaches, irritability and tension).
    • treat hot flushes during menopause.
  • when used during childbirth can assist in making the contractions regular and firmer and can relieve tension in a rigid cervix.
  • has a bitter taste which has a beneficial action on the liver, enhancing appetite and digestion, allaying nausea and vomiting.
  • will help relieve the pain and inflammation in arthritis.
  • acts as a tonic of the nervous system relaxing tension, lifting depression and promoting sleep.
  • will increase perspiration and reduce fevers when given as a hot infusion.
  • has been used for asthma, hay fever, dizziness and tinnitus.

Notes on feverfew

  • Avoid taking feverfew during pregnancy.
  • Fresh leaves may cause mouth ulcers in sensitive people.
  • Do not take if you are already taking blood thinning drugs such as warfarin.

Dosages

It is best to use the equivalent of one fresh leaf 1-3 times a day. It is best used fresh or frozen. If mouth ulcers or a swollen tongue occur stop eating the fresh leaves and try drinking an infusion made from the leaves instead.

For the gardener

Feverfew can be grown:

  • from seed sown in the spring or autumn, or
  • by dividing clumps in spring, or
  • taking cuttings when new growth is forming.

Feverfew will grow in most soils, in the sun or part-shade. Cut back the flower heads when they are finished and cut the whole back to ground level in the autumn.

References

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Mills, S. Y. 1989, The A-Z of Modern Herbalism: A Comprehensive Guide to Practical Herbal Therapy. Thorson.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.

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