Feverfew: The 7 Most Frequently Asked Questions to Treating Migraines

Migraine is just one of those conditions that its victims have to bear with and live by, despite the varying degrees of pain it imparts. As there is no actual cure for it, all that one can do is appropriately manage its symptoms and avoid common migraine triggers. More often than not, managing to live with migraine costs a lot. There also are times that standard medications for migraine just don’t cut it, and therefore some people would look for alternative solutions such as those offered by medicinal herbs. One such herb is feverfew. Listed below are some questions to ask before considering it as a solution for migraine and other problems.

What is feverfew?

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenum) is a plant that belongs to the sunflower family. Its name stems from the Latin term “febrifugia” or “fever reducer”. Historically, the plant has been used for the treatment of headaches, arthritis, and (the condition by which it is named after) fevers.

What parts of it are used for medicinal purposes?

The leaves and flowers are the main parts of the plant that are used to obtain extracts and make tea or infusions. Some alternative medicine firms make use of the dried leaves and flowers to develop capsules for easier use.

What are its medicinal uses?

Feverfew was once used (as its name suggests) as a herbal remedy for fever, headaches, coughs and colds, and general pain relief. Contemporary alternative medicine and complementary or integrative medicine practitioners make use of it mostly for migraine prophylaxis. Its anti-inflammatory properties have also made it an alternative to medications used for managing rheumatoid arthritis.

What are the active compounds or substances?

The active ingredient in it is a chemical called parthenolide, one of the sesquiterpene lactones found in the plant. It also contains essential oils, flavonoids, derivatives of pinene, and costic acid. Parthenolide has been described as having the ability to relieve smooth muscle spasms and prevent constriction of blood vessels, particularly in the brain. Parthenolide also has anti-inflammatory properties that led researchers to study its potential as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis

What do scientific studies tell us about its effectiveness?

There are some clinical trials that indicate it as being effective for migraine prophylaxis. However, evidence is described as insufficient. One particular research study has shown that individuals who take two to three fresh leaves daily has shown significant improvement. Another study claims that subjects who used feverfew leaves combined with magnesium and riboflavin or vitamin B2 experienced a 50% decrease in migraine. As for its use in managing rheumatoid arthritis studies have concluded that it provided no statistically significant difference versus placebo.

What precautions should one keep in mind?

Feverfew, as with other herbal medications could cause interactions with other medications. Individuals taking blood-thinning medication such as warfarin should not take it unless supervised by a health care provider. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and discomfort, indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea, and nervousness. Individuals who are taking chamomile, ragweed, or yarrow have the tendency to become allergic to feverfew.  People taking fresh or raw feverfew leaves risk getting mouth ulcers, swelling of the lips, mouth, and tongue, as well as experiencing the loss of taste.

How do I use it?

FeverfewPeople who have feverfew plants at home can ingest about two to three fresh leaves daily as part of migraine prophylaxis. As there is a risk of getting irritation, canker sores, or mouth ulcers from the use of fresh leaves, some people would sauté the leaves prior to use. The extract and capsules or tablets from dried leaves can be obtained from health food stores and other shops that supply alternative medicine products and should be used by following instructions that come with the package.

The decision to use feverfew as a treatment for migraine headaches and other conditions is not without basis as shown in some research studies pertaining to it. Prevention is always better than direct intervention, and therefore feverfew offers a good way of preventing migraine attacks from happening. Prior to using it, interested individuals must first obtain consultation from a medical professional to evaluate whether it would prove to be of great benefit or be of risk to one’s health.

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