Tanacetum parthenium

Part Used: Leaves.


  • Volatile oil, containing pinene and several pinene derivatives, bornylacetate and angelate, costic acid, b-farnesine and spiroketalenol ethers
  • Sesquiterpene lactones; the major one being parthenolide, with santamarine (=balchanin) and a number of others including esters of parthenolide, reynosin, artemorin and its epoxide, 3b-hydroxyparthenolide, 3b-hydroxycostunolide, 8-hydroxyestafiatin, traces of canin and artecanin, partholide and chrysantholide.
  • Acetylene derivatives.

Actions: Anti-inflammatory, vasodilator, bitter, emmenagogue.

Indications: Feverfew has regained its deserved reputation as a primary remedy in the treatment of migraine headaches, especially those that are relieved by applying warmth to the head. It may also help arthritis whenit is in the painfully active inflammatory stage. Dizziness andtinnitus may be eased, especially if it is used in conjunction with other remedies. Painful periods and sluggish menstrual flow will be relieved by Feverfew. It is the only herb used in European phytotherapy known to be specific for the treatment of migraine. It is also the best example of a remedy well known to medical herbalists that has recently been accepted and used by allopathic medicine. It has been used throughout recorded medical history as a bitter tonic and remedy for severe headaches. Through wide media coverage inrecent years, the herb has gained a well deserved reputation as a “cure” formigraine. Clinicians at the London Migraine Clinic observed that patients were reporting marked improvements when they took the herb. Thankfully, these doctors had the enquiring and open minds of the true scientist and so started their own investigations into the claims for Feverfew. Long term users often report beneficial side effects such as relief from depression, nausea and arthritic pain due to inflammation. Part of the herb’s action appears to be via an inhibition of secretion of the granular contents from platelets and neutrophils in the blood.
This may be relevant to the therapeutic value of Feverfew in migraine and other conditions such as osteo-arthritis.

Pharmacologists say that it is very likely that the sesquiterpenelactones inhibit prostaglandins and histamine released during the inflammatory process, so preventing spasms of the blood vessels in the head that trigger migraine attacks. As with all such impressive research findings, do not losesight of the importance of whole plant activity
rather than simply identifying’active’ ingredients.

CAUTION: Feverfew should not be used during pregnancy because of the stimulant action on the womb. The fresh leaves may cause mouth ulcers in sensitive people.

Preparations & Dosage: It is best to use the equivalent of one fresh leaf l-3 times a day. Preferably use fresh, but tincture or tablets are adequate. In this case, freeze dried leaf preparations will be best, 50-100 mga day.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021