Feverfew is one of the most popular herbs on the market right now, thanks to its remarkable properties in soothing headaches and migraines. As its name suggests, it was first used in traditional herbal remedies as a cure for various non-specific fevers, before finding a place in modern herbology from around the 1970s.
Feverfew has one of the longest histories of any herb. Its first recorded use (to be taken with a pinch of salt) was to save the life of a Greek construction worker who fell off the roof of the Parthenon. This explains the derivation of its technical name, Parthenium.
Feverfew is found in the herb gardens of many old English and European stately homes. Although not related to the daisy, its green stems are topped by daisy-like flowers with white leaves and yellow centers.
Parthenolide is the active compound in Feverfew. It acts by reducing levels of serotonin and prostaglandins in the brain, both chemicals that cause inflammation of blood vessels. Without feverfew, it is thought to be this inflammation that leads to migraines.
Feverfew is especially popular as a remedy for migraines. Studies have found it to be particularly effective for those migraine sufferers who also suffer from allergies or asthma. It does however have pain-relieving effects that should benefit anyone with even a mild headache. In medieval times Europeans would chew the Feverfew leaves as a pain killer.
When brewed into a tea, feverfew has many beneficial effects. Its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving action can help with arthritis, while it can also soothe upset stomachs. As its name suggests, it is also a useful remedy for reducing fever and providing relief from severe colds.
Feverfew has even more benefits for our female readers. When drunk regularly as a mild tea, it can help balance estrogen levels and regulate menstruation. Of course, pregnant mothers should therefore be very careful about taking it.
Feverfew is really only used as a migraine cure these days, and doesn’t have many varied uses as other herbs do. However, many gardeners and homeowners in North America swear by both its value as an ornamental plant, and its use as an insect repellent.
The theory goes that by planting feverfew in your garden, small insects such as mosquitoes, and larger ones such as bees, will be deterred from entering your garden. It is thought that the Pyrethrin in Feverfew has insect repellent properties. Herbologists and gardeners recommend planting it around the edge of your garden, near to seating and close to barbecue areas.
Some studies have suggested that Feverfew may thin the blood, so any sufferers from blood disorders should be very careful in using it. Pregnant mothers should also steer clear, and of course you should always check with your doctor before starting any herbal treatment.