Migraines can severely impact your quality of life. It’s not just the pain and suffering endured by the migraine sufferer, it’s also the impact it has on loved ones and on our ability to function day to day. The World Health Organisation says globally it’s our third most debilitating illness. It contributes to 20% of working days lost.

Signs and Symptoms of a Migraine

It’s often described as a severe throbbing usually on one side of the head. It can last from 3 hours to 3 days. It’s usually accompanied by nausea, sometimes vomiting, and feeling sensitive to light. Some people get a warning sign such as seeing a halo of light or visual disturbances, tingling or trouble stringing words together. For many people, it simply arrives unannounced. After the migraine has subsided, it’s common to feel worn out, exhausted and out of it. This can last a further day.

History of feverfew as a treatment for migraine

In 1973, a lady from Wales, Mrs Anne Jenkins, tried taking three fresh leaves of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) each day to try and get rid of her migraines. After 10-months of taking 3 leaves each day, Mrs Jenkins’ headaches had stopped. She noticed they did not return as long as she kept taking feverfew. This had such a profound effect on her life that she became a ‘feverfew evangelist’. A London migraine specialist heard of her claims and conducted a survey and then a clinical trial which confirmed Mrs Jenkins experience. Many further studies have been undertaken on feverfew to try and understand how it works.

Feverfew reduces migraine severity

Studies have found that feverfew can reduce the pain associated with migraine and key symptoms such as: vomiting, nausea and noise and light sensitivity. Researchers believed this activity was due to a key constituent, parthenolide. Further research has also suggested other constituents may also be involved.

Whilst a number of clinical trials have focused on feverfew’s ability to reduce symptom severity, other studies have also suggested that a higher dose may reduce the frequency of migraine. Personally, I have observed feverfew’s ability to stop migraines when I have prescribed it in my clinic. As with any herbal medicine, the dose is a very personalised aspect so it’s best to work with a herbalist to ensure the dose is right for you. A smaller dose may need to be taken for a longer period of time before you begin to see results.

How do I take feverfew?

You can take it as traditionally used which is chewing and swallowing 3 fresh leaves a day. Research based results use a tablet of the dried leaf or a feverfew tincture. I talk more about what a tincture is in my post, how to make rose petal tincture. I prefer to prescribe it in this form so that I can prescribe a more accurate dosage.

How to grow feverfew

Feverfew is a beautiful plant which will grow anywhere.

feverfew flowers

It has white daisy like flowers and the leaves stay green all year round. Once you have planted feverfew in your garden, wee plants will pop up all over the place so you need to be vigilant and weed out the ones you don’t want.