Your body needs the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and compounds to function properly. For some of those compounds, traditional and folk medicine since the ancient Greeks have utilized the anti-inflammatory health benefits of a plant called feverfew. (Its name comes from the Latin word febrifugia, meaning “fever reducer.”) A member of the daisy family, feverfew leaves contain multiple compounds that affect cellular function, the most prominent of which, parthenolide, may block the formation of inflammatory proteins.
Chronic inflammation in the body can contribute to migraine. So it makes sense that headache researchers have been intrigued by feverfew’s potential as a supplement for migraines.
What the research says about feverfew benefits for migraine
The literature on the possible benefits of feverfew for migraine is growing, but still limited. Thus far, however, it has found some promising supporting evidence for its efficacy, including:
- In a randomized, double-blind study of 170 people with migraine, half took 6.25 mg of feverfew extract three times daily for 16 weeks; the other half was given a placebo. The feverfew group saw a reduction in migraine frequency by 1.9 attacks per month, more than the placebo group.
- A 2011 review of feverfew studies for migraine determined that out of six studies totaling 561 people, four studies concluded that feverfew helped reduce migraine frequency and intensity.
- In an intriguing pilot study on acute migraine treatment with feverfew, 60 patients who experienced mild headache as a precursor to their migraine attacks were asked to treat with either a feverfew/ginger preparation or a placebo (randomized 3:1). After two hours, 63% of the feverfew subjects reported pain relief (39% for placebo), and 32% reported being pain-free (16% for placebo).
The clinical experience of headache specialists, including those at the Jefferson Headache Center, has found that a 6.25 mg dose of feverfew, taken three times daily, can be effective in improving the frequency and intensity of headache. Feverfew appears to be less effective if it is used less than three times a day.
Side effects of feverfew
Feverfew is a well-tolerated supplement. Side effects may include drowsiness, so it’s important not to take feverfew before driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery.
Finally, although feverfew is considered safe, remember that it’s always best to check with your doctor first if you’re considering taking any dietary supplements for the first time, are pregnant, nursing, taking any medications, or have any medical conditions.
To learn more about the research behind feverfew for migraine, visit our feverfew research page.
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