Feverfew

Feverfew
© Steven Foster

Common Names: feverfew, bachelor’s buttons, featherfew

Latin Names: Tanacetum parthenium, Chrysanthemum parthenium, Matricaria parthenium

Background

  • Feverfew is native to parts of western Asia and the Balkans, but it now grows throughout the world.
  • Feverfew is promoted for fevers, headaches, and arthritis; topically (applied to the skin), it’s promoted for toothache and as an antiseptic and insecticide. Feverfew has been called “medieval aspirin” or “aspirin of the 18th century.”

How Much Do We Know?

  • Some clinical studies have looked into feverfew’s use as a remedy for migraine headache. There’s little or no evidence about feverfew for any other health conditions.

What Have We Learned?

  • Some research suggests that feverfew may help prevent migraine headaches, but results have been mixed. Some research suggests it may reduce migraine headache frequency, as well as some symptoms, such as pain, nausea/vomiting, and light sensitivity.
  • There’s not enough evidence to know if feverfew is helpful for other conditions.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • No serious side effects have been reported from feverfew use. Side effects can include nausea, digestive problems, and bloating; if the fresh leaves are chewed, sores and irritation of the mouth may occur.
  • People who are sensitive to ragweed and related plants may experience allergic reactions to feverfew.
  • Do not take feverfew while pregnant because it may affect uterine contractions. Little is known about whether it’s safe to use feverfew while breastfeeding.
  • Using feverfew topically may cause skin irritation.

Keep in Mind

  • Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.

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Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Key References

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NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: December 2020