Feverfew for migraines has been compared to aspirin and might just be the way to go if you get mild attacks. However, my personal experience is that effective natural pain relief for more severe migraines can be difficult to find.
Some of us migraine sufferers who suffer from debilitating chronic or periodic migraine headache attacks are looking for headache relief that doesn’t get made in a drug lab using synthetic who knows what.
Plus, many of us have already experienced ineffective medications with break through pain and side effects that are more troublesome than they are worth.
And ironically enough, headaches is one of them. I don't really want to mention weight gain, in case I sound superficial which I am not, but who wants that?
Feverfew has a long history and has been used for centuries to help
lower the frequency and calm the severity of symptoms associated with
migraine headaches. Clinical tests have proven feverfew to be more
effective than other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like aspirin.
I have never found aspirin to work with my severe migraines, but I think feverfew for migraines is worth a try for sure.
Medical texts going as far back as Ancient Rome used dried and crushed feverfew leaves to help manage fever and as a painkiller for headaches. Ancient Greek physicians used Feverfew to treat melancholy and the English continued to use it to treat depression, headache, vertigo, and to lower fevers.
Some migraine sufferers have found help from feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), a common flower native to South Eastern Europe and is now common to North America and Australia.
Feverfew plants remind me of daisies. They have flat yellow centers
with slender white petals on lightly furred stems and small yellow-green
Feverfew for migraines is best used as a preventative.
There have been numerous clinical trials, all in the past decade, that have proven feverfew, taken two to three times a day, to reduce the frequency of migraine episodes by up to 50% for some sufferers. Several study participants who experienced chronic daily headaches (CDH) plus migraine episodes reported that their daily headaches stopped completely after four weeks of taking feverfew.
I tried feverfew years ago just as a tea (3 times a day) and it made my chin swell up. So assuming this was an allergic reaction, I stopped using it. Recently I spoke to my nutritionist friend and he said to try capsules and bypass the mouth, a more reactive area.
So I tried MigraCaps and felt great for the first three days, no migraines. But then my chin started swelling up again, so I let it go. I am looking at the box as I write this, it’s too bad we can’t share all our failed herbal remedies. Migraines are such trial and error. And we all know, when it comes to migraines, one size does not fit all!
Upon further research, Feverfew, while helpful to some, has a significant amount of potential side effects. Few people experience them, but they can be serious. Any patient wanting to add feverfew to their migraine prevention regimen should consult with their doctor and a licensed herbalist.
“Feverfew was shown to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines. This herb should not, however, be used during pregnancy or by people taking blood-thinning medications.” (Rowland and Frey, Gale Group, 2009).
Feverfew can trigger an allergic reaction in patients with common pollen allergies and should be used with caution.
Feverfew is available in many forms. You can grow the plant at home and chew the leaves. Two to three leaves each day is recommended. The herb is also available in tea, tablet, capsule, and tincture forms.
Just another warning: Feverfew in any form can cause mouth ulcers, but they are most common among those that chew the leaves or drink the tea. If mouth sores develop, discontinue use immediately.
Feverfew for migraines works because it has anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory properties.
I am not a herbalist, so I thought it might be best to quote one:
“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” (www.herbmed.org).
I love how they say “may” contribute to headaches and not use the word migraines!
It contains 85% of a compound called parthenolide. Parthenolide helps prevent excessive clumping of platelets and inhibits the release of certain chemicals, including serotonin and some inflammatory mediators. Several double blind studies report beneficial side effects from regular use:
• reducing severity, duration and frequency of migraines
• reduces nausea and vomiting
• relief from depression
• relief from arthritic pain
• relief from painful and sluggish menstrual flow
Straight from the MigraCaps information:
“Many studies have found Feverfew administration to result in a reduction in the severity of symptoms associated with migraine, as compared to placebo. The mode of action of Feverfew may involve the inhibition of platelet aggregation and prostaglandin synthesis."
"Feverfew has anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory properties that may work to reduce blood vessel spasms and inhibit the release of inflammatory substances. Feverfew may benefit many conditions involving inflammation.”
Migraines involve inflammation.
I think taking feverfew for migraines is worth a try. This herb has a lot of research behind it, so ask your doctor and see what s/he says.
Here are 5 things you can do to get started on your new experiment before checking back in with your doctor:
• Check with your Doctor to see if s/he thinks feverfew will interact with anything else you are taking and what they think in general.
Have they had any previous patients that have had success reducing their migraines using Feverfew?
• Print out our Medication Tracker and record your start date and dose.
• Keep a Migraine Diary to record your daily results.
• Take the herb for 2 months, as long as you have no bad reactions to the herb. You need to give it time to work.
• Check your results with your Doctor. Or you might be able to just see a significant reduction in frequency, severity or duration in your diary.
You might also like to read our article on migraine supplements. The recommended dose is normally on the box, each product will have a different amount of herb in it, so I won’t talk about the dose here.
I will say most information says it can take up to 4 to 8 weeks to notice any beneficial effects or reduction in your migraines.
As I can’t take Feverfew for migraines, I’d love to hear if it worked for you in the Facebook comments box below.
Until next time, be well and be pain free,
Feverfew for Migraines References:
1. PubMed.gov (2005) Study Showing the effectiveness of Feverfew. Available [Online] at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16232154 accessed Jan 4, 2016 relating to the proper reference:
Diener HC, Pfaffenrath V, Schnitker J, Friede M, Henneicke-von Zepelin HH. Efficacy and safety of 6.25 mg t.i.d. feverfew CO2-extract (MIG-99) in migraine prevention--a randomized, double-blind, multicentre, placebo-controlled study. Cephalalgia. 2005 Nov;25(11):1031-41.
2. Rowland, B., Frey R. PhD and Newton, D.E., Ed.D. (2014) Migraine headache. The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Ed. Laurie Fundukian. 4th ed. Detroit: Gale, 2014. 4 vols. Available here.
3. Herb Med.org
Feverfew for Migraines - What To Do And When