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Feverfew

By Melissa G. Marko, PhD, Ara DerMarderosian, PhD

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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.

Claims

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).

Evidence

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).

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 as it may cause the uterus to contract.

Drug interactions

Theoretically, feverfew is contraindicated in patients taking other antimigraine drugs, iron supplements, NSAIDs, antiplatelet drugs, or warfarin.

Feverfew references

* This is the Professional Version. *