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Feverfew


What is it?

Feverfew is an herb. The leaves are used to make medicine.

Feverfew has many uses, but so far, it seems to be effective only for preventing migraine headaches in some people.

Feverfew is also used for fever, irregular menstrual periods, arthritis, a skin disorder called psoriasis, allergies, asthma, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), dizziness, and nausea and vomiting.

Some people use feverfew for difficulty getting pregnant or fathering a child (infertility). It is also used for “tired blood” (anemia), cancer, common cold, earache, liver disease, prevention of miscarriage, muscular tension, bone disorders, swollen feet, diarrhea, upset stomach and intestinal gas.

Feverfew is sometimes applied directly to the gums for toothaches or to the skin to kill germs.

You may not get your money’s worth from all feverfew products. Some feverfew tablet products can contain little or no feverfew.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for FEVERFEW are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • Preventing migraine headache. There is some evidence that taking feverfew by mouth can reduce the frequency of migraine headaches and reduce pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise when they do occur. Feverfew may be more effective in people with more frequent migraine attacks. But there are also studies that concluded that feverfew doesn’t work for migraines. The difference in results may be explained by the differences in feverfew products that were tested.
    The Canadian government allows manufacturers of a certain feverfew formulation (containing 0.2% of a chemical called parthenolide) to claim that their product can be used to prevent migraines.

Possibly ineffective for...

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Taking feverfew by mouth doesn't seem to reduce the symptoms of RA.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Fever.
  • Menstrual irregularities.
  • Arthritis.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Allergies.
  • Asthma.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Earache.
  • Cancer.
  • Common cold.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of feverfew for these uses.

How does it work?

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Feverfew leaves contain many different chemicals, including one called parthenolide. Parthenolide or other chemicals decrease factors in the body that might cause migraine headaches.

Are there safety concerns?

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Feverfew is LIKELY SAFE for most people when used short-term (up to four months). Side effects might include upset stomach, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, flatulence, nausea, and vomiting. Other reported side effects include nervousness, dizziness, headache, trouble sleeping, joint stiffness, tiredness, menstrual changes, rash, pounding heart, and weight gain.

The safety of feverfew beyond 4 months’ use has not been studied.

Some people chew feverfew instead of swallowing it in a pill. Chewing fresh feverfew leaves can cause mouth sores; swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips; and loss of taste.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Feverfew is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken during pregnancy. There is concern that it might cause early contractions and miscarriage. Don’t use feverfew if you are pregnant. The safety of feverfew during breast-feeding isn’t known. It’s best to avoid using feverfew if you are breast-feeding.

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Feverfew may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking feverfew.

Surgery: Feverfew might slow blood clotting. It might cause bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking feverfew at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there interactions with medications?

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Moderate

Be cautious with this combination.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Feverfew might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking feverfew along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking feverfew, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), haloperidol (Haldol), ondansetron (Zofran), propranolol (Inderal), theophylline (Theo-Dur, others), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, others), and others.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C19 (CYP2C19) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Feverfew might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking feverfew along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking feverfew, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), and pantoprazole (Protonix); diazepam (Valium); carisoprodol (Soma); nelfinavir (Viracept); and others.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Feverfew might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking feverfew along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking feverfew, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications that are changed by the liver include diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), ibuprofen (Motrin), meloxicam (Mobic), and piroxicam (Feldene); celecoxib (Celebrex); amitriptyline (Elavil); warfarin (Coumadin); glipizide (Glucotrol); losartan (Cozaar); and others.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates)
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Feverfew might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking feverfew along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking feverfew, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.

Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Feverfew might slow blood clotting. Taking feverfew along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Feverfew might slow blood clotting. Taking feverfew along with herbs that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding in some people. Some of these herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, red clover, turmeric, and others.

Are there interactions with foods?

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There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

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The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For preventing migraine headaches: 50-100 mg of feverfew extract daily.

Other names

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Altamisa, Bachelor's Buttons, Chrysanthème Matricaire, Featerfoiul, Featherfew, Featherfoil, Flirtwort Midsummer Daisy, Grande Camomille, Matricaria, Matricaria eximia, Matricaria parthenium, Santa Maria, Tanaceti Parthenii, Tanacetum Parthenium, Chrysanthemum Parthenium, Chrysanthemum praealtum, Leucanthemum Parthenium, Pyrethrum Parthenium.

Methodology

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To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).

References

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To see all references for the Feverfew page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/933.html.

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  3. Ross JJ, Arnason JT, Birnboim HC. Low concentrations of the feverfew component parthenolide inhibit in vitro growth of tumor lines in a cytostatic fashion. Planta Med 1999;65:126-9.
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  20. Awang DVC. Prescribing therapeutic feverfew (Tancetum pathrnium (L.) Schultz Bip., syn. Chrysanthemumparthenium (L.) Bernh). Int Med 1998;1:11-3.
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  25. Foster S. Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, botanical series #310. Austin, TX: Am Botanical Council, 1996.
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  28. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1997.
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Last reviewed - 07/15/2011




Page last updated: 12 March 2014