Feverfew (Tanacetum Parthenium)

Feverfew, or also known as, Tanacetum Parthenium, has been used medicinally for over two millennia. The word feverfew also comes from the Latin term febris, for fever, and fugure, meaning “to chase away.” Relative to dandelions and marigolds as it comes from the daisy family (Asteraceae), this unique plant is a strongly aromatic perennial that grows from 1 to 2 feet with stiff, erect, round, smooth, started stems. The greenish yellow alternate leaves are divided into 2 or more segments, giving a superficial resemblance to fern leaves with numerous white pedaled flowers that crowd atop the plant.

Native Range

The genus Tanacetum includes about 160 species of herbaceous plants found in northern temperate climates. It is native to the Balkans, but is now very common in Eastern Europe, the Unities Kingdom, China, and the Unites States.

Historical Facts

  • For many centuries, feverfew has indeed been used to chase away fevers, along with a variety of other ailments, including migraine headaches.
  • The Greeks used Parthenium for more than just fever. Dioscorides, renowned Greek physician of the first century A.D., recommended the herb for many complaints, including headache, arthritis, and melancholy.
  • It also is used as a women’s herb to help expel the placenta after childbirth and ease menstrual irregularities as well as reduce menstrual cramping and promote menstrual flow.
  • By the 16th century in Europe, it had become well established as a remedy for headaches, stomach disorders, toothaches, and nerve pain.

Clinical Studies/Therapeutic Uses

  • Feverfew contains a goodly amount of melatonin, used for natural sleep. Some other chemical and nutritional components include B-vitamins, beta-carotene, calcium, flavonoid glycosides, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, vitamin C, and zinc.
  • The old and most commonly praised benefit of feverfew is the clear effect it has on headaches. The active ingredient in feverfew is parthenolide, which is a chemical compound that specifically binds to and inhibits the protein IKK-beta, which plays a role in the body’s inflammatory process. It functions as a preventative measure which targets the blood supply in the brain and works as an anti-inflammatory component to reduce the expansion of blood vessels. As well as prevents the buildup of platelets that can lead to blood clotting. Intern, this compound ensures smooth blood flow throughout the cardiovascular system.
  • With the herb’s ability to produce prostaglandins as well as the release of polymorphonuclear leukocytes, it reduces inflammation in arthritic joins and well as makes it useful to treat conditions such as psoriasis.
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties also supports its historical use in easing menstrual cramps, arthritis, and fevers which is believed to inhibit the release of serotonin and prostaglandins, which aid in migraine onset.

Overall Benefits

  • Reduces Migraine Headaches
  • Menstruation Pain
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Stimulates Digestion
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Natural bug repellent


  • Clinical trials have shown feverfew to be safe and well tolerated. A few people experience mouth ulcers, primarily associated with chewing the fresh leaf; use should be discontinued if that occurs with any product.
  • Withdrawal headaches have also been reported by roughly 10% of long-term users when they abruptly stop taking it. Tapering off feverfew minimizes this adverse effect.
  • Pregnant women should not use feverfew


“Rebecca L. Johnson, Steven Foster, Tirana Low Dog, David Kiefer. (2010) National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs. Washington DC: National Geographic Society.”

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