Fewer Migraines With Feverfew

By: Li Ming Wong

Migraineurs (people who suffer from chronic or episodic migraine headaches) are looking for headache relief that doesn't come from a drug lab. All too often pharmaceutical migraine solutions have unpleasant side effects, including, ironically enough, headache.

Some migraine sufferers have found help from feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), a common flower that grows all over Europe and North America. Feverfew plants resemble daisies. They have flat yellow centers with slender white petals on lightly furred stems and small yellow-green leaves. Medical texts going as far back as Ancient Rome list dried and crushed feverfew leaves as a palliative for headaches.

Feverfew is best used in a preventive program. Several clinical trials, all in the past decade, have shown that feverfew, taken two to three times a day, can reduce the frequency of migraine episodes by up to 50% for some people. Several study participants who experienced chronic daily headaches (CDH) plus migraine episodes reported that their daily headaches stopped completely after four weeks of feverfew treatment.

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 is available in many forms. It can be homegrown and the migraineur can chew two to three leaves from the plant each day. It is also available in tea, tablet, capsule, and tincture forms. 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.

Pregnant or nursing women should take feverfew. Do not give feverfew to pediatric migraineurs without consulting a doctor. Feverfew can trigger an allergic reaction in patients with common pollen allergies and should be used with caution.

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