Breaking from writing about the usual suspects in your pantry and neighborhood store to come share some knowledge on a this lovely plant, Feverfew that I’ve been harvesting, drying and using this week. Feverfew is not a commonly known herb in the world at large unlike it’s cousin Chamomile but just because a plant isn’t famous certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a little on hand.
Of course it’s common name being Feverfew gives you a bold faced clue as to what this plant is most famous for treating. It’s been written about dating back to the Greek physician Diosorides as being used to lower fevers and other inflammations in the body such as arthritis, toothaches, headaches and insect bites.
The leaves and the flowers of this plant are high in anti inflammatory action and have been studied by modern scientist in treatment of everything from inflamed acne to migraines and even cancer. Get to know this beautiful little plant and USE it often.
Feverfew is mostly known as something to take in a tincture or a tea to lower a fever and I’m a firm believer that a common name speaks volumes, so this is a great plant to have on hand especially if you have young children prone to fevers with all sicknesses, allergies or even teething. I like it as a tea and it blends well with ginger and other warming herbs like cinnamon or cloves to help break the fever.
Even though it’s called feverfew most herbalists use it to help with headaches in particular migraines. Unlike many anti inflammatory herbs this one is taken daily to prevent the migraines and then can be taken in a larger dose should a migraine be triggered. Scientists have been studying it’s effects and the best way to use it since the 1970’s and most studies have found that while it’s effective on it’s own, using it with other anti inflammatories increased it’s potency. I like it taken with rosemary, ginger and turmeric.
Feverfew is a wonderful herb to have on hand if you are a women who suffers from painful menstrual cramps and it pairs well with Red Raspberry Leaf and cramp bark It can be taken as a tea or tincture but SHOULD NOT be taken while pregnant. It acts as an emmenagogue and increase menstrual flow.
Scientist are very interested in finding out more of it’s actions on various types of cancers after several studies showed that it prevented the spread or recurrence of breast, prostate, lung, or bladder cancer as well as leukemia and myeloma. Feverfew contains a compound called parthenolide that blocks the protein NF-kB, which regulates cell growth. Basically, NF-kB regulates gene activity; in other words, it promotes the production of proteins that block cell death. Usually, that’s a good thing, but when NF-kB becomes overactive, cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy drugs. Scientists investigated and discovered that when breast cancer cells were treated with parthenolid, they were more susceptible to drugs used to fight cancer. The survival rate increases only when BOTH chemotherapy drugs and feverfew are used in combination. I would think that the anti inflammatory action could only be a help on the body as a whole when dealing with either the cancer or the chemo.
Last but not least, use it as a tea or a tincture to bath your skin when you have break outs or when you run into a swarm of insects and get bit or stung. It blends really well with Lavender and thyme for both those occasions!
Studies indicate that Feverfew taken with NSAIDS will have a reverse effect and lower the potency of each so remember they don't play well together and shouldn't be taken together
Wife, Mom, herbalist and friend. Feel free to change the order of the description to fit your needs, I do several times a day.