March 21, 2017


Botanical name(s):

Chrysanthemum parthenium, Tanacetum parthenium. Family: Asteraceae

Other name(s):

altamisa, bachelor's buttons, featherfew, featherfoil

General description

Feverfew is related to the daisy. It grows throughout the U.S. and Europe. It’s been used as a pain reliever for centuries.

Its feathery, aromatic leaves are used to prevent migraine headaches. Experts say that parthenolide and other ingredients in feverfew get in the way of serotonin and prostaglandin. These are natural agents that dilate the blood vessels. They may be responsible for triggering migraines.

Feverfew is likely only to work for migraines if you take it each day for a long time. It’s important to note that it prevents migraines. It doesn’t treat them. This means that it won’t help if you take it when you have a migraine.

Feverfew's main active part is the sesquiterpene lactone, parthenolide. It works to reduce the chance of migraines through physiological pathways.

Medically valid uses

Studies suggest that feverfew decreases the severity and frequency of migraines. However, results are mixed. More research is needed to know if this is true.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated through studies.

Feverfew may also ease nausea and vomiting due to migraines. It may take a month or longer for it to work.

Feverfew is said to reduce painful inflammation due to arthritis. But one study showed that it didn’t help women who had not responded to arthritis medicines. People have also used it to decrease the thickness of secretions in the lungs. It may also treat dizziness and tinnitus.

Feverfew may also help bring on uterine contractions to reduce the length of labor. It may also aid in starting menstrual periods and treating menstrual pain.

Feverfew has also been claimed to relieve colitis and soothe insect bites. It may also boost appetite by acting as a digestive bitter. It tastes bitter and helps the digestive process to work better.

Dosing format

Feverfew is available in oral tablets or capsules. Follow the instructions on the package for correct dose.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Fresh leaves may cause mouth ulcers (aphthous ulcers) in some people. People with allergies, especially to ragweed, may be sensitive to it. This is because it’s a member of the same family.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use feverfew.

People who stop taking feverfew after using it for a long time may have withdrawal side effects. These include headaches, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and stiff muscles.


March 21, 2017

Reviewed By:  

Poulson, Brittany, RD,Wilkins, Joanna, R.D., C.D.