15 Health benefits of Feverfew

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15 Health benefits of Feverfew

Feverfew Quick Facts
Name: Feverfew
Scientific Name: Tanacetum parthenium
Origin Southeastern Europe
Health benefits Relieves Migraines and Manage respiratory problems
Tanacetum parthenium  commonly known as Feverfew, Santa Maria, wild chamomile, wild quinine, bachelor’s buttons, Bride’s button, Altamisa, Featherfoil, Febrifuge plant, Feverfew, Flirtwort, Pyrethrum is a weedy perennial that belongs to the daisy/sunflower family of flowering plants. The plant is native to the Balkan Mountains of Eastern Europe. But now grows throughout Europe, North America and South America. The word “feverfew” is derived from the Latin word febrifugia, which means “fever reducer” although it is no longer considered useful for that purpose. It is widely used in traditional medicine for the treatment of fevers, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach ache, toothache, insect bites and infertility. The dried leaves (and sometimes flowers and stems) are used to make supplements, including capsules, tablets and liquid extracts. The leaves are also sometimes eaten fresh.

Plant description

Feverfew is a short, bushy, aromatic herbaceous perennial plant about 70 cm (28 in) tall. The plant is found growing in mountain scrub, rocky slopes, walls, waste places and a weed of gardens and easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils. Normally prefers moist, humusy soils with good drainage. Soils must not be allowed to dry out. The plant has branched and tapering root and stiff, finely furrowed and hairy stem.

Leaves

Leaves are alternate, downy with short hairs, or nearly smooth-about 4 1/2 inches long and 2 inches broad – bipinnatifid, with serrate margins, the leaf-stalk being flattened above and convex beneath. Leaves are light yellowish green, variously pinnatifid and are pungently-scented.

Flower

The plant has small; daisy-like yellow flowers that are arranged in a dense flat-topped cluster. The white flowers have flat yellow centers, not unlike those of a daisy. This perennial blooms between late spring to the first frosts (June to October), depending on location.

History

The ancient papers of Greek physicians consist of many references to feverfew. It has been used for hundreds of years by European folk healers to lessen or eliminate symptoms of headache, fevers, and reportedly arthritis. Early physicians also used the herb to treat menstrual disorders, stomachaches, toothaches, and even ordinary insect bites. The many folk names of feverfew are proof that it has been known and used for centuries. It was also believed that the plant could act as an air purifier and ward off disease.

More recently, within the last 20 years or so, feverfew has been used by some herbalists and homeopathic doctors to treat migraine headaches. Secondary use is for arthritis and/or inflammatory symptoms or illnesses such as psoriasis.

Health benefits of Feverfew

Feverfew is mostly used to relieve pain or ache. However, as mentioned above, it is also effective in treating fever and several other health conditions. Let us take a look at feverfew uses in detail.

1. Calms Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that normally affects the small joints in the hands and feet. An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. Feverfew is supposed to delay the production of prostaglandins, the hormone-like substances that cause pain and inflammation.(1)

2. Anxiety and Stress

Feverfew has been recognized to reduce stress and alleviate anxiety in some users. This is very important for those who suffer from chronic stress, as the presence of stress hormones in the body can be dangerous over long periods.

3. Lower Inflammation

Feverfew consists of some volatile compounds that have anti-inflammatory abilities, which efficiently decreases inflammation throughout the body. For those who suffer from chronic joint pain, arthritis, gout, and other inflammatory conditions, herbal treatment along with feverfew is a painless and effective solution.(2)

4. Heart Health

Feverfew prevents the production of certain prostaglandins in the body that are responsible for increasing blood pressure. By reducing symptoms of hypertension, feverfew can protect overall heart health and lower the chances of experiencing atherosclerosis, and the consequent heart attacks and strokes associated to that particular blockage of the cardiovascular system.(3)

5. Relieves Migraines

Several research shows that consuming feverfew decreases the frequency of migraine headaches and headache symptoms, including pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise.

Several impressive human studies shown the positive effects of using feverfew to prevent and treat migraines. A survey of 270 people with migraines in Great Britain found that more than 70 percent of them felt much better after taking an average of two to three fresh leaves daily.(4)

6. Prevents Blood Clots

Typically, blood flows through our arteries and veins smoothly and efficiently, but if a clot, or thrombus, blocks the smooth flow of blood, then the result can be very serious and even cause death. Serious problems arising from clots in blood vessels include heart attack and stroke.

Research indicates that feverfew may have antithrombotic potential.  As an antithrombotic agent, it can help prevent clots from forming and growing — and hence reduce the risk of death from heart attack or stroke!(5)

7. Beneficial for Skin

One of the more recent health benefits of feverfew is its role in skin health. Research is ongoing on the full effects of feverfew on the skin, but when it comes to dermatitis and other common forms of irritation, it has been shown to improve symptoms when topically applied.

8. Lowers blood pressure

Feverfew is quite beneficial for lowering blood pressure. Apparently, when researchers studied the effectiveness of feverfew on migraines, they observed how it also worked to lower blood pressure. This likely happens because of its ability to limit prostaglandins, which cause inflammation in blood vessels, suggests Neuropathy Treatment Group.(6)

9. Heals Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a general term for inflammation of the skin. It has several causes and occurs in many forms. Dermatitis commonly involves an itchy rash on swollen, reddened skin. Feverfew is a potent anti-inflammatory that’s mainly effective at calming redness.

If you have rosacea or regularly experience rash reactions, a topical remedy containing feverfew could likely offer relief, making it an effective rosacea treatment and rash natural remedy. It also naturally protects the skin from UV rays.(7), (8)

10. Managing respiratory problems

The herb’s soothing abilities do spread to the respiratory tract where it reduces any form of inflammation and irritation which may cause respiratory conditions like asthma, coughing or chronic bronchitis to worsen. Feverfew achieves this by allowing the respiratory tract to relax, soothing the detected respiratory conditions while improving the overall respiratory health.

11. Appetite Booster

For people trying to gain weight or recovering from an injury/surgery, increasing one’s appetite can be very important. Feverfew has been linked to certain hormonal activity that induces hunger. While this may not be ideal for people trying to stay on a diet, it can certainly help the healing process and weight gain efforts for those individuals who may be underweight or calorie-deficient.(9)

12. Combats Cancer

Research demonstrated the anticancer effects of feverfew extracts on two human breast cancer cell lines and one human cervical cancer cell line. Feverfew ethanolic extract inhibited the growth of all three types of cancer cells.

Among the tested constituents of feverfew (parthenolide, camphor, luteolin and apigenin), parthenolide showed the highest inhibitory effect. While it has yet to get extensive attention as a natural cancer fighter, the research is promising!(10)

13. Fever reducer

This was a common use for feverfew until the last century or so, when the use of aspirin became widespread. Passionate traditional herbalists prefer feverfew over aspirin. Homeopaths use this as a hot infusion to help sweat out the fever.

14. Menstrual cramps

Feverfew is quite beneficial for the reduction of discomfort during menstruation. For billions of women around the world, menstruation can be a painful monthly incidence that includes cramps, bloating, hormonal swings, pain, and excessive bleeding. It can efficiently lower inflammation, eliminate cramps, and induce calm to reduce mood swings and anxiety.(11)

15. Stops Hair Fall

Feverfew helps in reducing hair fall. As mentioned before, it is anti-inflammatory by nature and people using it have experienced a severe reduction in hair fall. Use of feverfew herb directly on your scalp can be a bit risky and you may end up dealing with the side-effects. Therefore it is recommended that you opt for drinking feverfew tea in moderation to stop hair fall and keep baldness at bay.

Traditional uses and benefits of Feverfew

  • It is beneficial in the treatment of certain types of migraine headaches and rheumatism.
  • It is thought as an herb for treating arthritis and rheumatism.
  • Leaves and flowering heads are anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aperient, bitter, carminative, emenagogue, sedative, stimulant, stings, stomachic, vasodilator and vermifuge.
  • Tea made from the whole plant is used in the treatment of arthritis, colds, fevers etc.
  • It is said to be sedative and to regulate menses.
  • An infusion is used to bathe swollen feet.
  • Applied externally as a tincture, the plant is used in the treatment of bruises etc.
  • Feverfew is used mostly to treat and prevent headaches.
  • Decoction with sugar or honey is said to be good for coughs, wheezing and difficult breathing.
  • Herb, bruised and heated, or fried with a little wine and oil, has been used as a warm external application for wind and colic.
  • Tincture made from Feverfew and applied locally immediately relieves the pain and swelling caused by bites of insects and vermin.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Feverfew

  • Osteoarthritis: Take some dried feverfew leaves. Grind them. Have one teaspoon with lukewarm water once a day.
  • Migraine: Take dried feverfew herb. Place it in a jar. Put a cup of hot water over it. Leave it for 10 minutes. Strain. Add a teaspoon of honey. Drink this preparation once a day daily.
  • Joint Pain: Chew fresh leaves of feverfew daily to reduce the pain in joints. OR Prepare feverfew tea by boiling the whole plant in a cup of water. Strain the decoction. Drink this twice a day to reduce joint pain.
  • Endometriosis: Take few fresh leaves of feverfew and chew it every morning. It eases the pain and discomfort in the pelvic areas.
  • Difficult Menses: Chew 4 to 5 fresh leaves if feverfew every morning.

Preparations

Feverfew should be collected just as the plant comes into flower and before the blossoms are fully open. Leaves are removed from the stalks and dried on paper-lined trays in a light, airy room, away from direct sunlight. The dried herb should be stored in clearly-labeled, tightly-sealed, dark glass containers.

Capsules: Feverfew leaf in capsule form, at a 250 mg daily dose, is suggested for medicinal use. It may take four to six weeks to provide obvious relief. Studies of some commercially-prepared capsules revealed that many did not contain a sufficient quantity of the active ingredient to be medicinally effective. Feverfew may be more medicinally powerful when gathered fresh. Three to four fresh leaves, taken daily over a period of time are medicinally effective. A certified practitioner can help determine the most effective and safest levels for individual cases.

Syrup: Fresh feverfew leaf can be added to honey, or to simple sugar syrup. The honey will act as a preservative and mask the bitter taste of the herb.

Infusion: Two to three teaspoons of chopped, fresh feverfew leaves are placed in a warmed container. One cup of fresh, non-chlorinated boiled water is added to the herbs and the mixture is covered. The tea is infused for about 15 minutes, and then strained. A stronger infusion, using double the amount of leaf and steeping twice as long, is useful as a skin wash for repelling insects, or soothing inflammations and wounds. The strong infusion has also been used as a mouthwash following tooth extraction. The prepared tea will store for about two days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Dosage: Feverfew may be enjoyed by the cupful three times a day.

Tincture: Combine four ounces of finely-cut fresh or powdered dry herb with one pint of brandy, gin, or vodka, in a glass container. The alcohol should be enough to cover the plant parts. Place the mixture away from light for about two weeks, shaking several times each day. Strain and store in a tightly capped, dark glass bottle. A standard dose is 30 drops of the tincture three times a day.

Culinary Uses

  • Dried flowers are used as a flavoring in cooking certain pastries.
  • Plant is used in cooking to impart a deliciously aromatic bitter taste to certain foods.
  • Tea is made from the dried flowers.
  • Stems, leaves, and petals can be chopped and infused into a tea by steeping in water.

Other Facts

  • Dried flower buds are a source of an insecticide.
  • An essential oil from the plant is used in perfumery.
  • Due to its bitter smell, it is particularly disliked by bees.
  • It is also sometimes grown for ornament.
  • Flowers can be used in pot pourri.

Precautions

  • Pregnant and nursing women, as well as children under 2, should not take feverfew.
  • Do not shortly stop taking feverfew if you have used it for more than 1 week. Stopping feverfew too quickly may cause rebound headache, anxiety, fatigue, muscle stiffness, and joint pain.
  • Fresh leaves can cause dermatitis and mouth ulcers if consumed.
  • Do not take if you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or other members of the Compositae family.
  • Side effects from feverfew can include abdominal pain, indigestion, gas, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and nervousness.
  • Some people who chew raw feverfew leaves may have mouth sores, loss of taste, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and mouth.
  • People with allergies to chamomile, ragweed, or yarrow may be allergic to feverfew and should not take it.
  • Feverfew may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you take blood-thinning medications.
  • If you are scheduled for surgery, tell your doctor if you are taking feverfew. It may interact with anesthesia.

References:

http://www.gbif.org/species/9134689/synonyms?offset=25

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=TAPA6

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=505434#null

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/319/

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=104584

http://www.hear.org/pier/species/tanacetum_parthenium.htm

http://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Tanacetum+parthenium

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/feverfew

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/plant-finder/plant-details/kc/z960,/tanacetum-parthenium-aureum.aspx

http://www.floracatalana.net/tanacetum-parthenium-l-schultz-bip-

http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/feverfew

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/feverf10.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanacetum_parthenium

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/feverfew

http://mecklenburghsquaregarden.org.uk/feverfew-the-aspirin-of-the-middle-ages/

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