Feverfew

General Information


Common Name:

Feverfew

Latin Name:

Tanacetum parthenium

Family:

Asteraceae

Other Names:

  • Altamisa;
  • Featherfoil;
  • Febrifuge plant;
  • Midsummer daisy;
  • Nosebleed;
  • Wild chamomilee;
  • Santa Maria.

Indications & Historical Uses

Feverfew was known to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks as a valuable herbal remedy and was used as an anti-inflammatory agent. It was used to treat headaches and for promoting menstrual flow. Recent clinical trials have substantiated its effectiveness as a remedy for migraine headaches. It is used effectively for the prevention and treatment of migraine headaches. It has also been suggested for inflammations, nausea and vomiting, vertigo, arthritis, and as a digestive aid .

Contraindications & Precautions

Contraindications:
None known at present (See Caution).

Precautions:
See Drug Interactions.

Adverse Side Effects:
Feverfew is usually well-tolerated and no serious side-effects have been reported. Rarely, individuals allergic to the Compositae family of flowers [e.g ragweed and chamomile ] may show hypersensitivity. 10% of people taking fever few may develop mouth ulcers.

Drug Interactions:
It has been shown that the concomitant use of NSAIDS or steroids may reduce the effectiveness of Feverfew. Feverfew also has the potential to decrease platelet aggregation and therefore patients on anticoagulants should be closely monitored. See Caution.

Dosage Information

How Supplied:

As capsules containing 500mg of parthenolide.

Dosage:

One capsule of extract containing 500 mg parthenolide per day. Feverfew has to be taken for an entire month before beneficial effects are noticeable in case of migraine prophylaxis. Also much higher doses are required to abort an acute attack of migraine. [1-2 gm ].

Pharmacology

The most pharmacologically active ingredient is Parthenolide. Feverfew contains a number of other not so active, bitter tasting sesquiterpene lactones. Research studies have determined that parthenolide, michefuscalide, and chrysanthenyl acetate inhibit the production of prostaglandins. Though it does not directly inhibit cyclo-oxygenase like ASA or NSAIDS, it does appear to inhibit the release of arachidonic acid which reduces substrate for both prostaglandins and leukotriene synthesis. Feverfew also inhibits degranulation in platelets and leukocytes, and this in turn results in the decreased secretion of serotonin and histamine. Inhibition of prostaglandins production results in reduction of inflammation, decreased secretion of histamine, decreased activation of inflammatory cells and a reduction of fever, hence the name. While the anti- inflammatory effect is of some benefit, the major beneficial effect is due to its effects on histamine and serotonin. It is postulated that it is the inhibtion of serotonin and histamine release that reduces the spasm of the cerebral blood vessels, thus preventing and controlling migraine headaches. In addition to its anti-inflammatory activities, feverfew is also known for relaxing the smooth muscles in the uterus and promoting menstrual flow and for inhibiting platelet aggregation and excessive blood clotting. As a bitter herb, feverfew has been used in stimulating digestion and improving the function of the liver.

Active Ingredients:

Principal active ingredient is parthenolide – a sequestrene lactone. Other sequesterpene lactones are chrysanthemonin, Chrysartemin A and B and Santamarin. Other active substances are tannins, betafarnesene and camphor. Standardized amount of active ingredient is 0.1 – 0.5 % parthenolide.

Origin

Feverfew is a member of the daisy family, similar to the tansy and chrysanthemum. It is native to Germany, Holland, U.K. and Israel. Feverfew is a short , bushy perennial with daisylike yellow and white flowers and closely resembles chamomile. The yellow-green leaves are used medicinally.

Processing

Active ingredient is extracted from the harvested leaves. The extract is then concentrated to the guaranteed potency.

Scientific References

S. Foster: Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, Botanical series No 310. American Botanical Council, Austin,Texas (1991) p.p. 8.

Weiner, M. (1990) Weiner’s Herbal. Mill Valley, CA: Quantum Books.

Grieve, M. (1978) A Modern Herbal. Middlesex, UK: Penguin Books.

Heptinstall, S. (1988) Feverfew– An ancient remedy for modern times? J. Royal Soc. Med. 81:373-374.

Bohlmann, F. and Zdero, C. (1982) Sesquiterpene lactones and other constituents from Tanacetum parthenum. Phytochemistry 21:2543

Makheja, A. and Bailey, J. (1981) The active principle of Feverfew. Lancet 2:1054.

Jhnson, E.S. et al. (1985) Efficacy of Feverfew as prophylactic treatment of migraine. Brit. Med. J. 291:569.

Murphy, J.J. et al. (1988) Randomised double-blind trial of Feverfew in migraine prevention. The Lancet 2:189.

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