Also Known As:
Featherfew, Flirtwort, Bachelor’s Buttons
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Central and Southern Europe, naturalized in temperate zones of North America
Moderately rich soils on the dry side.
Feverfew is an attractive plant said to repel insects, with abundant daisy-like flowers. Some believe that the name “Feverfew” is a corruption of the Latin word “febrifuge” which means “driver out of fevers.” This is a bit of a misnomer, as its usefulness has not been shown for this purpose. The Greeks preferred the name parthenion (which translated to parthenium in Latin). In the first century AD, the Greek physician Dioscorides wrote of feverfew in his pharmacopeia De Materia Medica, where he recommended it for menstrual and birth-related problems and as an anti-inflammatory, and not as a fever-reducer. This is one of the earliest recorded uses of feverfew.
One account of the herbs name goes like this: during the Middle Ages, the name parthenion faded and the plant was renamed featherfoil because of its feathery edged leaves. Featherfoil became featherfew and later feverfew. After it acquired the name feverfew, its use against fevers increased.
Feverfew was planted around homes in England in an attempt to purify the air of malaria which was believed to be caused by “bad air.” Early colonists followed this tradition in North America where malaria was also a problem. In 17th century England, herbalist John Parkinson claimed it to be a “very effectual for all pains of the head.” During that same period Nicholas Culpeper declared it a “general strengthener of wombs” and prescribed it in tea for colds and chest congestion.
American 19th century eclectic physicians used feverfew mainly for promoting menstruation, and for treatment of “female hysteria.”
After a period of non use, feverfew has risen in popularity in recent years. John Parkinson was on to something in the 17th century, and recent clinical trials have shown its effectiveness in decreasing the pain of migraines as well as their duration. In 1978 stories appeared in several British newspapers about a woman who had cured her severe migraine headaches with feverfew leaves. It was at this time that extensive studies and experiments proved the herb’s ability to relieve or even cure migraine headaches. Feverfew actually improved patients’ conditions 20% more effectively than any commercial drug on the market at the time. Its success in combating migraines may be due to its accumulative effect in slowly reducing the smooth muscle spasms, which are implicated in may form of migraine. Over half the feverfew users involved in clinical studies reported positive effects. Researchers first believed that a substance called parthenolide was responsible for the migraine relief because it reduced smooth muscle spasms, but that relationship has since been questioned. Parthenolide has been shown to decrease inflammation, which may also play a role in the healing properties of feverfew.
Additional trials have shown that feverfew has other medicinal benefits, such as relieving nausea and vomiting, aiding against inflammation and pain of arthritis, improving digestion, relieving asthma attacks, and promoting sleep.
Feverfew makes a nice background plant with its deeply cut leaves and dainty daisy-like flowers. It has been known as an insect repellant and its roots contain the powerful insecticide pyrethrin.
Parts of the Plant Used:
All aerial parts, but especially the leaf, both dried and fresh
Volatile oils, tannins, parthenolide
Carminative, emmenagogue, purgative, stimulant, tonic
Infusion: Steep 3-4 fresh feverfew leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Drink up to 2 cups a day to experience its healing effects. Stop taking this herb gradually to avoid rebound headache.
Feverfew is not recommended for individuals taking blood-thinning medications, pregnant and nursing women, or children under the age of two.
**We also sell this as a dried bulk herb. **