There is nothing new about using herbs and plant life to treat our illnesses, ancient civilisations have been harnessing the power of nature for thousands of years. While feverfew might not be one of the most commonly known supplements, it is widely used to treat migraines and has been since the 80’s.
There are a number of uses for feverfew; it is most frequently used to alleviate migraines, arthritis, muscle pain and tension, and fevers.
Additionally, it can be used in order to lower blood pressure, stimulate the appetite by improving kidney function and digestion, as well as lessening stomach irritation.
There are indications that it can also be used to treat dizziness, tinnitus, colitis, and menstrual problems.
WebMD lists the illnesses that feverfew is commonly used to treat, as well as others that as such there may be insufficient evidence for.
What The Science Shows
There have been clinical tests into the effectiveness of feverfew. When dealing with severe headaches it appears that feverfew is more effective than NSAIDS such as aspirin. The feverfew plant has a combination of ingredients, which make it effective for pain relief. It inhibits two inflammatory substances being released- prostaglandin and serotonin. Both of these substances are believed to be contributing factors in the onset of migraines.
Feverfew inhibits these substances, as well as the production of histamine and controls inflammation, which leads to blood vessels being constriction, and this prevents the spasms in blood vessels, which are believed to contribute to headaches.
The University of Maryland highlights a study completed in the UK in the 80’s. It included 270 people that suffered from regular migraines. 70% of them saw massive improvement after 2 to 3 days of use.
There are a number of forms the supplement comes in- dried, freeze-dried, and fresh. It can be purchases in tablet form, capsules, or tinctures. In order to treat migraines, you should take at least 50 to 100 mg of feverfew daily.
The majority of studies into feverfew tackle the subject of migraines, as it has long been a popular treatment to relieve headaches.
Additional studies have shown that participants taking feverfew extracts had fewer migraines a month in comparison to participants given a placebo. Furthermore, 49 people taking part in a 3-month study saw a decrease in migraines of 50%. This study combined vitamin B2, magnesium, and feverfew.
According to WebMD, feverfew is safe for short-term use (four months). However, like any medication there are possible side effects, which include tiredness, weight gain, menstrual changes, upset stomach, heartburn, and bowel issues. Studies have not been completed into the safety of feverfew beyond the four-month period.
It is not recommended to chew the fresh leaves, and the unprocessed leaves can cause swelling of the lips, tongue and mouth, as well as mouth sores, and may result in a loss of taste.
Feverfew should not be taken within two weeks of surgery, as it may slow blood clotting.
Additionally, it shouldn’t be used by pregnant or breast feeding women. It can also cause allergic reactions in individuals sensitive to ragweed, marigolds, daisies, and chrysanthemums.
While the jury may be out on the additional claims attributed to feverfew, studies are clear in its use to relieve migraines.
The Migraine Trust recommends that freeze dried capsules are used in order to treat migraines. This is because the majority of studies that have been conducted have used this form of feverfew.
In addition to this, teas have a bitter taste, and fresh leaves irritate your mouth. The capsules can be purchased from health food stores and chemists. The general recommended daily dosage to treat migraines is 250 milligrams.