Herbalists traditionally espouse the benefits of feverfew medicinal uses as a treatment for headaches, stomachaches, fever, arthritis, psoriasis, menstrual problems and labor pain. A member of the Asteraceae family, itÂ’s the leaves of the feverfew plant most often used in making an herbal preparation, usually as a tea or poultice.
Research done using feverfew leaves has indicated that the leaves may give relief for those suffering from migraines. Patients in one study were given two or three fresh feverfew leaves to chew each day for several months up to several years. As a result of this study, over 70% of the subjects claimed the intensity and incidences of theirmigraines lessened over a period of time.
While feverfew medicinal uses may appear to benefit certain individuals suffering from pain, side effects occurred in 18% of 270 subjects participating in an uncontrolled survey experiment. These included:
- Mouth ulcers
- Bad taste
- Tongue soreness
- Swollen lips and mouth
- Mild gastrointestinal problems
It appeared that the oral side effects were exacerbated by chewing the feverfew leaves, rather than the absorption of any harmful chemicals caused when digesting the leaves. In about 10% of subjects who repeatedly used feverfew for ailments then abruptly discontinued using it, something later called the “post-feverfew syndrome” was reported which consisted of symptoms such as headache, insomnia, anxiety and muscle stiffness.
Side Effects and Interactions
Feverfew is known to affect blood coagulation, and may cause bleeding in those taking an anti-platelet or anti-coagulant medication. There have been some contact allergic reactions to feverfew medicinal uses and research on this condition reveals there may be the possibility of cross-allergenic reactions between plants which contain sesquiterpene lactones. Those plants include ragweed, chrysanthemums, and daisies. While feverfew benefits several medical conditions, it will initiate abortions in cattle if found and ingested by pregnant cows.
Preparation of Feverfew
When purchased in a health store, a package of feverfew consists of the above ground parts of this herb, especially the leaves which are either freeze-dried or powdered. Since chewing the leaves appears to cause mouth ulcerations, it is better to use feverfew in one of these forms. The normal dosage for feverfew has been established at 50 to 100 milligrams of encapsulated dried leaf, or two to four leaves. Some herbalists suggest using daily doses of 200 to 600 milligrams, depending on the intensity of the pain.
Research in feverfew medicinal uses has tentatively indicated that this herb eases the pain of migraines and other ailments. As an apparently safe and non-toxic medicine, feverfew is currently being utilized by those who have not found relief in pharmacological medications. However, one trial testing its effectiveness on rheumatoid arthritis resulted in negative conclusions regarding its ability to successfully treat this kind of arthritis.