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Feverfew: Herbal Medications, What Works

A member of the daisy family, feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) originated in the Mediterranean area and was used in Greco-Roman times, primarily for menstrual difficulties. In the seventeenth century, it was used for headaches.

Feverfew's current popularity as a remedy for preventing and treating migraine is a result of the publication of a number of clinical studies in British medical journals.

  • Based on a 1983 article by Johnson and associates, 70 percent of migraineurs reported reduction in the frequency or pain of migraine.

  • Reporting a small 1985 study by Johnson, feverfew reduced migraine pain and duration by about half.

  • From a well-designed follow-up study of fifty-nine migraine patients by Murphy and associates, patients using feverfew showed a 24 percent reduction in the number of migraines, and a significant reduction in nausea and vomiting.

  • A 1996 study in the Netherlands by De Weerdt and associates produced negative results. In this study, a dried alcohol extract of feverfew leaf was used. It was speculated that perhaps the alcohol extract did not deliver the most active constituent of feverfew, parthenolide.

  • In an Israeli study by Palevitch, which used dried feverfew leaves, the herb did not perform significantly better than a placebo.

 

Feverfew has been proposed for adoption by the European Union as a prophylactic treatment of migraine. Despite the somewhat equivocal research findings, feverfew appears to have won acceptance for this application.

 

 

 

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From THE BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.


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