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by Ara DerMarderosian, PhD

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. Evidence from 3 of 4 relatively small but well-designed studies supports these claims, but the largest and best designed of these studies does not. Differences among study findings may reflect the different formulations of feverfew used.

Feverfew is also said to be useful for relieving menstrual pain, asthma, and arthritis. In vitro, feverfew inhibits platelet aggregation.

Adverse effects

Mouth ulcers, contact dermatitis, dysgeusia, and mild GI symptoms may occur. Abrupt discontinuation may worsen migraines and cause nervousness and insomnia. Feverfew is contraindicated in pregnant women; theoretically, it is contraindicated in patients taking other antimigraine drugs, iron supplements, NSAIDs, antiplatelet drugs, or warfarin.

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