Native to southeastern Europe, feverfew is now widespread throughout Europe, North America, and Australia. The migraine-relieving activity of feverfew is believed to be due to parthenolide, an active compound that helps relieve smooth muscle spasms.
Feverfew Herb History
Feverfew Herb has an interesting history. This member of the daisy family has been used for centuries to treat headaches, arthritis, and problems with labor and childbirth. Ancient Greek physicians used it to reduce inflammation and treat menstrual cramps. Although it was once used to treat fevers, as its name suggests, it was not very effective. It is now used to prevent migraine headaches, and several scientific studies suggest that it works well for that purpose.
Native to southeastern Europe, feverfew is now widespread throughout Europe, North America, and Australia. Feverfew is a short perennial that blooms between July and October, and gives off a strong and bitter odor. Its yellow-green leaves are alternate (the leaves grow on both sides of the stem at alternating levels), and turn downward with short hairs. The small, daisy-like yellow flowers are arranged in a dense flat-topped cluster.
How To Grow Feverfew
Well-drained sandy or loamy soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.7 is perfect for these plants.
You can start seeds indoors in late winter, or direct sow in your garden after all danger of frost has passed. Expect germination to take 10 to 14 days.
You can also transplant seedlings from a garden center or divide existing plants.
Apply a light, balanced fertilizer each spring, and keep roots moist throughout the year. This plant won’t tolerate dry conditions.
Feverfew is a plant that is native to Asia Minor and the Balkans. People most commonly take feverfew by mouth for migraine headaches. People also take feverfew by mouth for itching, tension headache, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Feverfew leaves contain many different chemicals, including one called parthenolide. Parthenolide or other chemicals decrease factors in the body that might cause migraine headaches.
Preserving And Storing Feverfew
To air dry, tie several cut stalks into bundles and hang upside down in a dry, dark place for up to a week. You can also use a dehydrator or oven set at 140°F.
Using a low heat will help to preserve the essential oils – you want the leaves to be dry and crumbly before you store them, but not so dry that they fall apart when you pick them up! Once dried, remove leaves and flowers from the stalks and store in a tightly sealed glass jar in a dark pantry. Use the dried leaves and flowers to make a tea to prevent headaches.
What Is Feverfew Herb Good For
Feverfew herb was popular in the 1980s as a treatment for migraines. A survey of 270 people with migraines in Great Britain found that more than 70% of them felt much better after taking an average of 2 to 3 fresh feverfew leaves daily. Several human studies have used feverfew to prevent and treat migraines. Overall, these studies suggest that taking dried leaf capsules of feverfew every day may reduce the number of migraines in people who have chronic migraines.
One study used a combination of feverfew and white willow (Salix alba), which has chemicals like aspirin. People who took the combination twice a day for 12 weeks had fewer migraines and the pain did not last as long or hurt as much.
Another study found that people who took a special extract of feverfew had fewer migraine attacks per month compared to people who took placebo. A 3-month study with 49 people found that a combination of feverfew, magnesium, and vitamin B2 led to a 50% decrease in migraines.
Not all studies have found that feverfew works for migraines, however. Whether it reduces migraine pain and frequency may depend on which supplement you take. Ask your doctor to help you find out the right formula and dose for your needs.
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