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Feverfew, a member of the sunflower family, has been used over time as a remedy for headaches, arthritis, and fevers. Feverfew is native to the Balkan mountains of Eastern Europe but now grows throughout Europe, North America, and Australia. Feverfew has green-yellow leaves that grow on both sides of the stem at alternating levels. The small, daisy-like yellow flowers bloom between July and October. The plant has a bitter odor.

The flowers of the feverfew plant. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Other Names

Common Names--feverfew, bachelor's buttons, featherfew

Latin Names--Tanacetum parthenium, Chrysanthemum parthenium



Feverfew has been used for centuries in European folk medicine as a remedy for headaches, arthritis, and fevers.

Other traditional uses include:

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Labor difficulties
  • Skin conditions
  • Stomach aches
  • Asthma.


Modern-day uses for feverfew include:


  • The dried leaves, and sometimes flowers and stems, of feverfew are used to make supplements, including capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.
  • The leaves are sometimes eaten fresh.

How Feverfew Is Taken

Dosage recommendations (per the University of Maryland Medical Center) [1]


Feverfew should not be used in children under two years of age.

In older children, adjust the recommended adult dose to account for the child's weight. Most herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of an average of 150 lb (70 kg) adult. Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb (20 - 25 kg), the appropriate dose of feverfew for this child would be 1/3 of the adult dosage.


For migraine headaches: Take 100 - 300 mg, up to four times daily, standardized to contain 0.2 - 0.4% parthenolides. Feverfew may be used to prevent or to stop a migraine headache. Feverfew supplements may also be carbon dioxide extracted. For these, take 6.25 mg, 3 times daily, for up to 16 weeks.

For inflammatory conditions (such as arthritis): 120 - 60 drops, 2 times daily of a 1:1 w/v fluid extract, or 60 - 120 drops twice a day of 1:5 w/v tincture.

How It Works

The active ingredient in feverfew is believed to be parthenolide. Parthenolide apprears to have several important actions:


Side effects

No serious side effects have been reported for feverfew. Side effects can include:

  • Canker sores
  • Swelling and irritation of the lips and tongue
  • Loss of taste
  • Nausea
  • Digestive problems
  • Bloating

People who take feverfew for a long time and then stop taking it may have:

  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Stiff muscles
  • Joint pain


Women who are pregnant should not use feverfew because it may cause the uterus to contract, which increases the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.

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.

Feverfew may increase the tendency to bleed, especially in individuals with bleeding disorders or taking blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin or warfarin.


Feverfew may inhibit the activity of platelets (a substance that plays a role in blood clotting), so individuals taking blood-thinning medications (such as aspirin and warfarin) should consult a health care provider before taking this herb.

As with any medication, patients should discuss the use of feverfew with their health care provider, especially if they are being treated for other health conditions.


Recent news

  • Feverfew's active ingredient, parthenolide, appears to be have anti-protozoal activity against Trypanosoma cruzi. [8]
  • Parthenolide also shows promise as a potential treatment for leukemia. [9]

Clinical Trials

No ongoing clinical trials regarding feverfew are available at this time.



The term feverfew is adapted from the Latin word febrifugia or "fever reducer."

Other Resources

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.


  1. University of Maryland Medical Center web site. Feverfew
  2. Tassorelli C, Greco R, Morazzoni P, Riva A, Sandrini G, Nappi G. Parthenolide is the component of tanacetum parthenium that inhibits nitroglycerin-induced Fos activation: studies in an animal model of migraine. Cephalagia. 2005 Aug;25(8):612-21. Abstract
  3. Kwok BH, Koh B, Ndubuisi MI, Elofsson M, Crews CM. The anti-inflammatory natural product parthenolide from the medicinal herb Feverfew directly binds to and inhibits IkappaB kinase. Chem Biol. 2001 Aug;8(8):759-66. Abstract
  4. Wu C, Chen F, Rushing JW, et al. Antiproliferative activities of parthenolide and golden feverfew extract against three human cancer cell lines. J Med Food. 2006 Spring;9(1):55-61. Abstract
  5. Wu C, Chen F, Rushing JW. Antiproliferative activities of parthenolide and golden feverfew extract against three human cancer cell lines. J Med Food. 2006 Spring;9(1):55-61. Abstract
  6. Sun Y, St Clair DK, Fang F, et al. The radiosensitization effect of parthenolide in prostate cancer cells is mediated by nuclear factor-kappaB inhibition and enhanced by the presence of PTEN. Mol Cancer Ther. 2007 Sep;6(9):2477-86. Abstract
  7. Groenewegen WA, Hepinstall S. A comparison of the effects of an extract of feverfew and parthenolide, a component of feverfew, on human platelet activity in-vitro. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1990 Aug;42(8):553-7. Abstract
  8. Izumi E, Morello LG, Ueda-Nakamura T, et al. Trypanosoma cruzi: antiprotozoal activity of parthenolide obtained from Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Schultz Bip. (Asteraceae, Compositae) against epimastigote and amastigote forms. Exp Parasitol. 2008 Mar;118(3):324-30. Epub 2007 Sep 7. Abstract
  9. Zunino SJ, Ducore JM, Storms DH. Parthenolide induces significant apoptosis and production of reactive oxygen species in high-risk pre-B leukemia cells. Cancer Lett. 2007 Aug 28;254(1):119-27. Epub 2007 Apr 30. Abstract

External Links

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): Feverfew

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