(See also Overview of Dietary Supplements.)
Feverfew is a bushy perennial herb. The dried leaves are used in capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. Parthenolides and glycosides are thought to be the components responsible for its purported anti-inflammatory effects and relaxant effects on smooth muscle.
Feverfew is said to be effective in the prevention of migraine headaches and useful for relieving menstrual pain, asthma, and arthritis. In vitro, feverfew inhibits platelet aggregation (1).
Three of 5 relatively small but well-designed studies of feverfew’s effect on migraine headaches support its efficacy in prevention (2-4), but 2 larger and better-designed studies do not (5-6). Differences among study findings may result from differences in formulations of feverfew used and dosage. Evaluations of feverfew on rheumatoid arthritis are few. One study showed no apparent benefit from oral feverfew in rheumatoid arthritis (7).
Groenewegen WA, Heptinstall S. A comparison of the effects of an extract of feverfew and parthenolide, a component of feverfew, on human platelet activity in-vitro. J Pharm Pharmacol 42:553-557, 1990.
Johnson ES, Kadam NP, Hylands DM, et al. Efficacy of feverfew as prophylactic treatment of migraine. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 291:569-573, 1985.
Murphy JJ, Heptinstall S, Mitchell JR. Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of feverfew in migraine prevention. Lancet 2:189-192, 1988.
Palevitch D, Earon G, Carasso R. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) as a prophylactic treatment for migraine—a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Phytotherapy Res 11:508-511, 1997.
Pfaffenrath V, Diener HC, Fischer M, et al. The efficacy and safety of Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew) in migraine prophylaxis—a double-blind, multicentre, randomized placebo-controlled dose-response study. Cephalalgia22:523-532, 2002.
de Weerdt GJ, Bootsman HPR, Hendriks H.de Herbal medicines in migraine prevention. Randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of a feverfew preparation. Phytomedicine 3:225-230, 1996.
Pattrick M, Heptinstall S, Doherty M. Feverfew in rheumatoid arthritis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Ann Rheum Dis 48:547-549, 1989.