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Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)


Also listed as: Tanacetum parthenium, Parthenolide
Related terms

Related Terms
  • 6-Hydroxykaempferol, alpha-pinene, altamisa, apigenin, bachelor's button, camomille grande (French), camphene, camphor, Crysanthemum parthenium, (E)-beta-ocimene, (E)-chrysanthenol, (E)-chrysanthenyl acetate, featherfew, featherfoil, febrifuge plant, federfoy, flirtwort, gamma-terpinene, germacranolide sesquiterpene, golden feverfew, Leucanthemum parthenium, limonene, linalool, lipophilic flavonoids, luteolin 7-glucuronides, Matricaria capensis, Matricaria eximia hort., Matricaria parthenium L., michefuscalide, midsummer daisy, MIG-99, Mig-RL, monoterpenes, mother herb, Mutterkraut (German), nosebleed, Parthenium hysterophorus, parthenolide, p-cymene, Pyrenthrum parthenium L., quercetagetin, santa maria, sesquiterpene lactones, sesquiterpenes, Tanacetum parthenium, Tanacetum parthenium L. Sch.-Bip., tanetin, tannins, wild chamomile, wild quinine.
  • Selected combination products: Few Gs (feverfew, ginkgo, garlic, ginseng, and ginger), Tanacet® (125mg of feverfew leaf powder), GelStatT Migraine (combination of ginger and feverfew), Lomigran capsules (0.1mg of feverfew sesquiterpene lactones per capsule), Mig-RL®.

  • Feverfew is an herb that has been used traditionally for fevers, as its name denotes, although this effect lacks quality research.
  • Feverfew is most commonly taken by mouth to prevent migraine headache. Several human trials have been conducted with mixed results. Overall, these studies suggest that feverfew taken daily as dried leaf capsules may reduce the incidence of headache attacks in people who experience chronic migraines. However, this research has been poorly designed and reported.
  • There is inconclusive evidence regarding the use of feverfew for treating migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, itching, and skin irritation.
  • Feverfew appears to be well tolerated with some mild side effects. The most common side effects appears to be mouth ulcers and inflammation due to exposure to feverfew leaves. In theory, there may be an increased risk of bleeding.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

Feverfew is often taken by mouth for the prevention of migraine headaches. Overall, human research suggests that feverfew may reduce the number of headaches in people with frequent migraines. A large, well-designed study comparing feverfew to other migraine treatments is needed before a conclusion can be made.


Limited research shows that feverfew cream reduced itching, but was less effective than steroid cream. Additional higher quality studies are needed before conclusions may be made.


In two clinical trials by the same researcher, a combination product (LipiGesicT M) that contained feverfew and ginger showed effectiveness in treating migraine headaches. Trials that study feverfew alone in the treatment of migraine headaches are needed before conclusions can be reached.


It is unclear if feverfew is helpful for treating rheumatoid arthritis symptoms such as joint stiffness or pain. Further research is needed.


Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, feverfew may have beneficial effects when used on the skin to prevent irritation. One small study found a beneficial effect of an extract of feverfew for reducing redness caused by an irritating chemical.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Abdominal pain, abortion inducing, anemia, angiogenesis (blood vessel formation), asthma, blood vessel dilation, breast cancer, cancer, central nervous system diseases, colds, colon cancer, constipation, cystic fibrosis (mucus build-up in organs), diarrhea, digestion, dizziness, fever, gut disorders, heart damage, inflammation, insect bites, insect repellant, labor induction, leukemia (blood cancer), menstrual cramps, menstrual flow stimulant, nervous system disorders, neurological complications of malaria (mental problems due to malaria), painful joints, pancreatic cancer, parasites (leishmaniasis), ringing in the ears, rosacea (chronic red skin), sedative, skin cancer, skin care, toothache, tranquilizer, uterine disorders.


Adults (18 years and older)

  • For migraine headache prevention, traditional doses include 2-3 dried leaves (approximately 60-86 milligrams) or 50-250 milligrams of a dried leaf preparation taken by mouth daily, standardized to 0.2% parthenolide. Clinical trials have used 50-143 milligrams feverfew powdered leaves or granulated feverfew for 1-6 months, or 2.08-18.75 milligrams of a CO2-extract of feverfew (MIG-99) taken by mouth three times daily for 12 weeks. Also in one study, feverfew treatment containing 5 milliliters of sap was taken by mouth daily for 30-60 days.
  • For reducing itch, a cream containing feverfew (Aveeno®) has been applied to the skin for four weeks.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis, capsules containing 70-86 milligrams of dried, powdered feverfew leaf, corresponding to 2-3 micromoles parthenolide, were taken by mouth once daily for six weeks.
  • For reducing skin irritation and inflammation, 2 microliters per centimeter squared of 0.5%, 0.75%, and 1.0% parthenolide-depleted extract of feverfew (PD-FF) has been applied to the forearm skin once, 30 minutes prior to methyl nicotinate exposure.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for feverfew in children.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to feverfew, chrysanthemums, daisies, marigolds, or other members of its plant family, including ragweed. There are multiple reports of allergic skin rashes after contact with feverfew.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Feverfew is possibly safe when used in recommended doses for a limited duration by healthy non-allergic individuals.
  • Feverfew may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders, those taking drugs that may increase the risk of bleeding, or before certain surgical or dental procedures. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
  • Feverfew may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's "cytochrome P450" enzyme system.
  • Use caution when eating raw or unprocessed feverfew leaves.
  • Use caution when using feverfew long-term and when stopping feverfew abruptly after chronic use.
  • Use cautiously in people with stomach, intestine, lung, heart, muscular or skeletal conditions.
  • Use cautiously in individuals with depression or anxiety, in people prone to skin irritation, or in overweight or obese people.
  • Use cautiously in combination with artemisinin, doxorubicin, aspirin, sedatives, and vasoconstrictors (especially phenylephrine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, thromboxane mimetic, and angiotensin II).
  • Avoid in people with known allergies to feverfew, its parts, or to members of its plant family due to reports of skin allergic reactions.
  • Avoid in women that are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to become pregnant, or taking agents to induce abortion.
  • Avoid in children due to a lack of safety evidence.
  • Few side effects are reported in human studies of feverfew. The side effects include allergic rashes, anxiety, bleeding of the gums, constipation, depression, diarrhea, flatulence, headache, heartburn, increased heart rate, indigestion, insomnia, joint pain, lip swelling, loss of taste, mouth inflammation or ulcers, muscle stiffness, nausea, tongue irritation, sensitivity to sunlight, skin irritation, stomach bloating, stomach pain, tiredness, and weight gain.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Avoid in women that are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant, or taking agents to induce abortion due to a lack of safety evidence and possible abortion inducing effects of feverfew.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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