Feverfew

A popular herbal remedy used by people who experience migraine

What is feverfew?

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a perennial plant belonging to the daisy family which grows in much of Europe, North America and Canada. It has been used in herbal remedies for centuries.

Can feverfew help with migraine?

Feverfew is used as a preventive (or prophylactic) treatment for migraine. A number of people have reported that after taking feverfew their migraine attacks have gradually become less frequent and in a few cases have stopped altogether, but evidence regarding benefit is conflicting.

When the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) reviewed all treatments for migraine (in 2012 and 2016), they did not recommend Feverfew  as a migraine preventive. They found that the studies looking at its effect were of low quality and had serious limitations, which meant they could did not find evidence required to make a recommendation.

Does feverfew have any side effects?

Feverfew should not be taken during pregnancy as it can cause contractions. As feverfew is similar to aspirin and other NSAIDs such as ibruprofen, it is probably best not to take both at the same time. As with aspirin feverfew should not be taken if you are breast feeding.

Some people find that feverfew can cause mouth ulcers and minor skin irritations. There have been no reported effects on heart rate, blood pressure or weight.

If you decide to stop taking feverfew it is best to decrease the amount you take gradually to phase it out slowly. Some people who have suddenly stopped taking it after several years have experienced a return of their previous level of migraines along with other symptoms such as nausea, anxiety and insomnia. This is known as “feverfew rebound syndrome”.

As with any herbal remedy, it is advisable to consult your own doctor or herbalist before starting treatment.

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