Feverfew - An All-Natural Supplement for Migraines
Often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and problems with vision, migraine headaches can be debilitating. Many migraine sufferers have relied on NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for treatment, but some are looking for a more natural remedy. One type of all-natural treatment for migraines is feverfew.
A short perennial bush with a bitter odor, feverfew has small, daisy-like flowers that bloom between July and October. Feverfew is native to the Balkan Mountains of southeastern Europe but now grows throughout Europe, North America, and Australia.
Used by the ancient Greeks in the treatment of "melancholy," feverfew continued to be popular into seventeenth century England for symptoms of vertigo and for headache, depression, and fever. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries however, it was rarely used by herbalists.
Currently, feverfew is being used as an alternative medicine for headache, arthritis and other ailments. Many who are prone to migraine headaches use feverfew as an all-natural supplement to prevent further attacks. In production, the leaves are harvested, dried and ground, but all parts of the feverfew plant can be used when making health supplements.
Feverfew is a good source of sesquiterpene lactones, which are active chemicals found in plants. Parthenolide is the primary active chemical in feverfew which is said to help relieve smooth muscle spasms and reduce inflammation in the body. It also helps to inhibit the constriction of blood vessels in the brain which is one of the primary causes of migraine headaches.
Feverfew supplements have been used in many controlled studies for the treatment and prevention of migraines. It has been suggested that taken daily in capsules, feverfew may reduce the number of attacks in patients who suffer from long-term migraine headaches.
One three-month study of 49 subjects found that a combination of feverfew, magnesium and vitamin B2 cut the incidence of migraine attacks in half.
Another clinical study used a combination of feverfew and white willow, which contains ingredients similar to aspirin. The remedy was given twice a day for 12 weeks. It was reported that pain and duration as well as the frequency of migraine attacks were significantly reduced in patients being treated.
The recommended dosage for feverfew supplements is 125 mg of 0.2 percent parthenolide or chewing two fresh leaves daily. Treatment is recommended for at least two months with a gradual decrease in dosage levels when discontinuing use.
As feverfew may slow clotting of the blood, this health supplement is not recommended just prior to or following surgery. It is also not recommended for pregnant women, women who are breast-feeding or children under two years of age. As feverfew belongs to the "aster" family, people who are allergic to ragweed or other "aster" flowers should avoid use of this health supplement.
The development of mouth ulcers or canker sores is the most common side effect of feverfew supplements.
Cases of hemorrhage have not been reported, but as feverfew may slow clotting, it could increase the risk of bleeding in people taking anticoagulants.