Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), also known as Bachelor’s Button, is a common flowering aromatic plant. Feverfew was known to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks who regarded it as a valuable remedy to alleviate headaches, joint pain, stomach aches, menstrual pains and fever. For centuries it has also been employed as an emmenagogue to promote menstrual flow.
Modern researchers confirm that feverfew is a valuable herbal remedy that is especially effective in treating migraine headaches and arthritis. Feverfew contains a number of lactones, among them parthenolide, michefuscalide and chrysanthenyl. The main active sesquiterpene lactone, parthenolide, is known to inhibit the production and secretion of prostaglandins, substances released by blood platelets and white blood cells that contribute to migraines. White blood cells secrete substances believed to contribute to the kind of inflammatory processes seen in arthritis and possibly some other autoimmune disorders. Another substance, Serotonin, is also secreted by blood platelets and can constrict blood vessels and contribute to migraine pain. This inhibition of prostaglandins results in reduction in inflammation, decreased secretion of histamine, and a reduction of fevers, thus the name Feverfew.
Researchers conducting placebo-controlled studies have discovered that taking daily supplements of feverfew resulted in a 24% reduction in the the overall number of migraines, and the headaches that did occur were measurably milder and resulted in less vomiting. Feverfew has also been useful in relaxing smooth muscles in the uterus, promoting menstrual flow and inhibiting platelet aggregation and excessive blood clotting. Feverfew also helps stimulate digestion and improves liver function.