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Medicinal Plants: Grow at Home Series

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

Medicinal Plants: Grow at Home Series

Feverfew is a medicinal plant from the Asteraceae family that includes over 20,000 different herbs and flowers such as aster, lettuce, daisies, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, dandelions, goldenrod, coneflowers, thistles, artichokes, chamomile, dahlias, marigolds, zinnias, chicory, sage, tarragon, ragweed, thistle, sagebrush, yarrow, and zinnias. You can grow Feverfew in a pot (inside or outside) and also in a garden. It is a perennial plant and will need to be thinned out due to its invasive nature and root system in your garden. Harvesting Feverfew to use as an extract for headaches and migraines is a perfect way to reduce its ability to overpopulate your garden. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.)

Several complementary alternative medicine studies have supported the efficacy of using plant medicines or nutraceuticals (a substance that has physiological benefits or provides protection against chronic disease) as an approach to headache and migraine disorders. New research is hopeful suggesting potential additional benefits with melatonin, vitamin D, higher dosages of vitamin B6 (80 mg)/folic acid 5 mg combinations, and the combination of magnesium 112.5 mg/CoQ10 100 mg/and Feverfew 100 mg, suggests Wells, R. E., Beuthin, J., & Granetzke, L. (2019).

Feverfew was known as “medieval aspirin” or the “aspirin” of the 18th century. Feverfew has been traditionally used for the treatment of fevers, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, stomach aches, toothaches, insect bites, and infertility with most evidence-based use for headaches and migraines. Other uses for Feverfew include: psoriasis, allergies, asthma, tinnitus, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, lower blood pressure, lessen stomach irritation, stimulate the appetite, improve digestion, and kidney function. It has been indicated for colitis, tinnitus and menstrual problems (, Pizzorno J. E. & Murray, M. T. (2013).

Pareek, A., Suthar, M., Rathore, G. S., & Bansal, V. (2011) reports that although the common active ingredient is sesquiterpene, lactone parthenolide, was widely believed to be the active constituent. Other potentially active constituents include flavonoid glycosides and pinenes. It has multiple pharmacologic properties, such as anticancer, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, antispasmodic, an emmenagogue, and as an enema for worms. The flowering herb also contains essential oils (including chrysanthenyl acetate), flavonoids, monoterpenes, and polyacetylene compounds. Melatonin has also been detected in minimum amounts. The leaf, both with and without the stem, collected when the plant is in flower, is the part that is used medicinally. It can be taken as a capsule, tablet, or extract.

Especially important is the use of Feverfew for those who can’t tolerate conventional medications for the prophylaxis treatment of migraines. I personally can not tolerate pharmaceutical medications well so finding an alternative application that works well was a blessing! I have been able to reduce the occurrence of migraines from 8-12 per month to 1-4 per month, which is a considerable difference. Just last month I only had one migraine attack. I highly recommend Feverfew not only for its ability to reduce the number of headaches and migraine attacks but also for the reduction in duration and length of the migraine hangover. Those with migraines will understand what I mean. There are most certainly a few days after a migraine attack that feels like a hangover with symptoms such as light and sound sensitivity, lingering dull headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, decreased appetite, and blurry vision. My personal results have shown that taking three drops under my tongue each morning upon waking has improved my daily head pain and vascularization (throbbing), migraine events, pain thresholds, and cognitive functions. Work with a qualified holistic health professional (like me), functional medicine doctor, or herbalist to make certain of any contraindications such as allergies to ragweed and pollen, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or interactions with other medications. Wells, R. E., Beuthin, J., & Granetzke, L. (2019) report a few interactions that are worth noting:

* Herbs that affect platelet aggregation: Feverfew affects platelet aggregation, there may be a potential interaction with the use of garlic and ginkgo which could increase the risk of bleeding in some individuals.

* Anticoagulant and anti-platelet drugs: Feverfew affects platelet aggregation, there may be a potential interaction using Feverfew in combination with these drugs that might increase the risk of bleeding.

* NSAIDs: NSAIDs' effects on prostaglandins might decrease the effectiveness of Feverfew.

Another helpful use for Feverfew is as a companion plant and natural insecticide! Due to its scent, it may be able to mask other plants from pests that eat through them. Feverfew pairs well with herbs such as mint and thyme. Please understand some studies have been inconclusive for Feverfew as a curative versus a preventative during the acute stages of migraine or onset of pain. For best results eat a few leaves, take capsules daily, or a tincture over a period of 3-4 weeks. Be aware the flavor is bitter and can distract users from continuing its use. Use with water or juice if you are sensitive to its bitterness. I have been making extracts for self-care for years, this is my own easy do it yourself base tincture recipe:

Feverfew DIY Tincture Recipe

*Please note: the time to prepare this tincture is about 5 minutes but it must sit for four to six weeks before using it.

Tools needed: Glass jar with a glass lid (do not use metal lids alcohol will deteriorate it over time.)

Fresh Feverfew flower heads or dried Feverfew

80 proof alcohol 4-6oz

Dark amber glass tincture bottle with dropper

Directions: Fill your jar with about 1 cup of dried Feverfew (1/2 if using fresh Feverfew) Make sure to cover the Feverfew entirely with the alcohol, then put the lid on. Lightly shake the jar and leave it in a cool dark cupboard for 4-6 weeks. (I recommend four weeks for a weaker product or six weeks for a stronger extract) Gently shake the jar every day. I keep my tinctures under the counter in my kitchen so I don’t forget to shake my recipes daily after doing my dishes. After 4-6 weeks, strain the feverfew with a fine mesh strainer. Then pour it into your dark dropper bottle. Store in a dark cool place. If left in the bathroom cabinet take note that light, humidity, and moisture can affect its shelf life and efficacy.

It is best to take the drops directly under the tongue to get absorbed directly into the bloodstream. If needed, it is fine to dilute the tincture in a small amount of water or juice if it's too bitter for your palette. If you prefer to buy a tincture already made I suggest the following resources to ensure you are using certified organic, transparent high-quality sourcing, and sustainability practices.

Resource Links

References -Pareek, A., Suthar, M., Rathore, G. S., & Bansal, V. (2011). Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review. Pharmacognosy reviews, 5(9), 103–110. -Pizzorno, J. E. & Murray, M. T. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine (4th. ed.). St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone. -Wells, R. E., Beuthin, J., & Granetzke, L. (2019). Complementary and Integrative Medicine for Episodic Migraine: an Update of Evidence from the Last 3 Years. Current pain and headache reports, 23(2), 10.

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