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feverfewFEVERFEW (Chrysanthemum parthenium)

 

Common names

Featherfew, febrifuge plant

 

Medicinal parts

The entire herb

 

Description

A perennial, feverfew can reach 3 feet in height and produces pretty daisylike flowers. Mostly it is cultivated, but it can be found along roadsides and wood borders from Quebec to Ohio and south to Maryland and Missouri, and in California. It flowers in June and July.

A legendary herb since the time of Dioscorides (78 C.E.), it was used especially for the treatment of migraine headaches but also for menstrual irregularities, stomach complaints, and particularly fever. In fact, its common name is a corruption of the Latin word febrifugia, which means "fever reducer." Despite this long history, feverfew fell into disuse until the late 1970s, when persons afflicted with painful and debilitating migraines were unable to find relief through conventional allopathic means. As they turned to alternatives, feverfew was resurrected and is now "hot" as recent studies have shown just how effective it is in preventing migraine headaches.

The return of feverfew was sparked in 1978, when a woman cured herself of migraines with feverfew leaves and the story was reported in British newspapers. As a result, serious medical researchers decided to study the herb. In 1985, Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, published an article that reported that extracts of feverfew inhibited the release of two substances considered to bring on migraine attacks-serotonin from platelets and prostaglandin from white blood cells. And in 1988, Lancet published a report of a carefully designed study that proved the herb's power to prevent migraine headaches and/or lessen the severity of the attack. This information came as no surprise to herbalists. However, it is important to note that feverfew does not actually cure migraine; it only helps prevent or lessen it. Luckily for migraine sufferers, who may end up taking it for years, long-term use has not been shown to be a problem, although more research is needed to determine long-term effects, if any. It can take several months of regular use for feverfew to work, so if you suffer from migraines, don't get discouraged.

Dosage

Fresh leaves: Eat 1 large leaf daily as a prophylactic against migraine headaches.

Capsules or tablets: As feverfew is bitter as an infusion, or when chewing the fresh leaves, most people will prefer capsules or tablets taken orally. When buying these commercially prepared products, be sure to read the label; some brands contain only trace amounts of the pure herb.

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