Latin Names – Tanacetum parthenium, Chrysanthemum parthenium
The feverfew plant is a short bush with daisy-like flowers. Native to the Balkan mountains of Eastern Europe, feverfew now grows in Europe, North America, and South America. The dried leaves—and sometimes flowers and stems—of feverfew are used to make supplements, including capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.
Feverfew has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries for a variety of symptoms such as fevers, headaches, stomach aches, toothaches and insect bites. Feverfew has also been used for problems with menstruation and with labor during childbirth.
Recently, feverfew has been used as an herbal remedy in the hope of improving migraine headaches and rheumatoid arthritis. Feverfew has also been used in the hope of improving problems such as psoriasis, allergies, asthma, tinnitus (ringing or roaring sounds in the ears), dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
Some research suggests that feverfew may be helpful in preventing migraine headaches; however, results have been mixed and more evidence is needed from well-designed studies.
One study found that feverfew did not reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in women whose symptoms did not respond to conventional medicines. It has been suggested that feverfew could help those with milder symptoms.
There is not enough evidence available to assess whether feverfew is beneficial for other uses.
Side Effects and Cautions Summary
- Women who are pregnant should not use feverfew because it may cause the uterus to contract, increasing the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.
- Side effects of feverfew include canker sores, swelling and irritation of the lips and tongue, and loss of taste.
- Other side effects can include nausea, digestive problems, and bloating.
- People who take feverfew for a long time and then stop taking it may have headaches, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, stiff muscles, and joint pain.
- People can have allergic reactions to feverfew. Those who are allergic to other members of the daisy family (which includes ragweed and chrysanthemums) are more likely to be allergic to feverfew.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health to help ensure coordinated and safe care. Complementary or alternative therapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.
- Awang DVC, Leung AY. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005:211–217.
- Feverfew. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed on July 5, 2007.
- Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L. Schultz-Bip.). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed on July 3, 2007.
For More Information
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse
The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
Web site: ods.od.nih.gov
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Feverfew fact sheet Created December 2006, Updated April 2008