Like many herbal remedies feverfew has a long history - supposedly used by the Ancient Greeks to relief inflammation and reduce menstrual cramps, and throughout history to treat headaches, arthritis and labour pains.

It was also used to treat fever (hence the name) but this wasn’t its strong suit. These days it’s best known as a migraine treatment.

What is Ferverfew?

Feverfew is a plant with daisy-like yellow flowers common in Europe, North America and Australia. It is available freeze-dried, dried, fresh, in tablets, capsules or liquid extracts. Capsules generally contain dried feverfew leaves.

When used to treat migraine most studies use a dose of between 50-mg daily.

Why do I need Feverfew?

Feverfew contains a natural anti-inflammatory substance called parthenolide which is thought to relieve spasms as well as reduce inflammation. It’s also thought to block substances that dilate blood vessels in the head, which is why feverfew is often used to treat migraines.

In one study from the UK more than 70% of participants said their migraines felt better after consuming 2-3 fresh feverfew leaves a day. In another study people who took feverfew extract had fewer migraine attacks per month compared to those who took a placebo.

At the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in 2012 feverfew was listed in new guidelines* as ‘probably effective’ as a complementary treatment for the prevention of migraines.

More research is needed and not all studies found feverfew to be effective, but if you suffer from regular migraines you may want to consider a daily dose in capsule form.

Other benefits of feverfew may include reduced inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. More research is needed. There is also some recent evidence* to suggest that feverfew may be useful in helping to reduce resistance to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.

Can Feverfew ever be bad for you?

Make sure your product contains at least 0.2% parthenolide (the therapeutic component of feverfew).

Side effects may include stomach upsets including diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

Feverfew may increase your risk of bleeding so should be avoided if you about to undergo surgery. You should also consult your doctor before taking feverfew if you already use blood-thinners such as warfarin.

Do not use feverfew if you are allergic to chamomile, ragweed or yarrow.