Feverfew, a plant native to central and southern Europe, is known to grow well in the U.S. The pretty flowers of feverfew are usually small, white, and with bright yellow centers. In fact, feverfew is a species of chrysanthemum. People have been using it medicinally for years due to its main active compound called parthenolide.
The Health Benefits of Feverfew
Let’s take a look at the top health benefits of feverfew.
Destroys Cancer Cells
One of the most interesting facts about feverfew’s active compounds is their ability to destroy cancer cells. Researchers have found that it might be more successful to kill cancerous cells using feverfew than undergoing chemotherapy. With this fact in mind, the American FDA has approved that the plant’s compounds to be used in pharmaceutical medicine. In fact, the flower’s active compound parthenolide is so potent and proven to work better than anti-leukemia chemo drugs.
According to some studies, the parthenolide in feverfew possesses anticancer activity against certain cancer cell lines, including fibroblasts, epidermoid cancer of the nasopharynx, laryngeal carcinoma, cells transformed with the simian virus, as well as anti-Epstein–Barr.
One of the most common uses of feverfew is for fighting headaches and migraines. It is believed that feverfew contains painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties. Evidently, it lowers the release of serotonin, the inflammatory substance, from blood cells. It also reduces the production of a chemical transmitter known as histamine. In fact, both serotonin and histamine are effective for treating migraines.
In fact, several studies indicate that feverfew is effective for combat migraine pain when combined with ginger, and then placed under the tongue. This combination of feverfew and ginger has been found to lessen the severity of migraines if taken before the pain sets in. Feverfew also believed to reduce nausea and pulsating pain characteristic with migraines two hours after use. In addition, it helps to reduce a sufferer’s sensitivity to light and sound.
Studies suggest that taking dried feverfew on a daily basis may reduce the symptoms of migraines in chronic sufferers.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Feverfew may also be effective for lowering blood pressure. As a matter of fact, some studies show that based on the effectiveness of feverfew on migraines, it can help lower blood pressure as well. This is most likely due to its ability to limit prostaglandins, which results in inflammation in blood vessels.
Treats Eczema and Dermatitis
Several studies have suggested that feverfew may help reduce inflammation and damaged skin cells. In fact, feverfew may help relieve dermatitis, eczema, dermatitis, as well as improve the appearance of the skin. According to these studies, the activity of feverfew is similar to that of weak topical steroids. Feverfew actually possesses several biologically active components that contain effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. It may also help to prevent a host of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that interact with cells. Feverfew also disrupts the production of prostaglandin as well as the action of neutrophils. As a matter of fact, these two actions help reduce inflammation and are helpful in treating autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.
Relieves Arthritic Pain
Feverfew may also be helpful for relieving pain and inflammation often linked with arthritis. This is owing to its ability to reduce the body’s production of prostaglandins. In fact, prostaglandins occur in several of the body’s functions, including temperature, blood pressure, inflammation, and blood vessel tone.
Some researchers actually believe that the compounds present in feverfew may reduce the materials needed to initiate and elongate inflammation. We all know that inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury, discomfort, or disease and can lead to swelling, pain, and redness where injury has taken place. Inflammation may also occur inside the body’s tissues and on the outside of the skin. However, the compounds in feverfew help to inhibit parts of the blood, known as platelets, from releasing inflammatory materials.
Eases Menstrual Cramps
What actually causes pain when a woman experiences her period is that the uterine lining produces excess prostaglandin, which is the hormone that causes pain and inflammation. Thankfully, feverfew reduces the production of prostaglandin, making it helpful in relieving menstrual cramps. Although more research is required, there’s no harm in taking feverfew a day before menstruation and cramping.
Relieves Nerve Pain
Feverfew has the ability to reduce pain and inflammation in the whole body. It actually does this by blocking the release of inflammatory substances such as serotonin. It can also relieve pain just like conventional pharmaceutical pain relievers or fever-reducing drugs. However, unlike these conventional pain relievers, feverfew contains no lasting side effects.
Side Effects and Precautions
Generally, feverfew is considered safe when taken orally, appropriately, and in the short-term (for about four months). However, the intake of feverfew may lead to certain side effects, including diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, bloating, heartburn, nausea, constipation, and flatulence. Some other side effects have been recorded, including headaches, weight gain, nervousness, insomnia, tiredness, dizziness, joint stiffness, menstrual issues, rash, and heart palpitations.
Before taking feverfew, you also have to know the following:
- Feverfew may be unsafe when the fresh leaves are chewed. This is because ingesting the unprocessed feverfew leaves can result in mouth sores, inflammation of the tongue and lips, as well as a loss of appetite.
- Feverfew may be unsafe for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers as there are concerns that it might cause early contractions and miscarriage.
- Feverfew might also slow blood clotting. Therefore, until there is more evidence, it is advisable to use feverfew with caution if you suffer from a bleeding disorder.
- People who are allergic to ragweed and related plants may suffer allergic reactions if they take feverfew. This family of the plant includes daisies, chrysanthemums, marigolds, as well as several others. It is advisable to check with your doctor before taking feverfew.
The Bottom Line
Feverfew is a plant whose leaves are normally dried and used for medicinal purposes. Fresh leaves and extracts are used orally for the prevention and treatment of asthma, irregular menstruation, migraines, headaches, allergies, fever, arthritis, psoriasis, nausea, tinnitus, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, and dizziness.
It is believed to also improve the chances of conception and treat male infertility. Feverfew is also taken orally for treating cancer, earache, anemia, bone disorders, common cold, swollen feet, liver disease, and the prevention of miscarriage.
Feverfew leaves may also contain a range of chemicals, including parthenolide, which helps to factors in the body that might be responsible for migraine headaches.