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Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) the Medicinal Garden

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The name says so much about the history of this plant.  Feverfew comes from the Latin febrifugia which means "driver out of fevers".  The Romans valued this plant as a fever reducer but then this plant's medicinal use faded away.  It has now been rediscover but this time for something far different, it is now used as an anti-inflammatory and a very strong migraine headache aide.

Description

• A vigorous hardy biennial, or short lived perennial with finely furrowed, many branched stems. 
• Leaves: Strongly and bitterly scented, hairless, alternate, 4in long, yellowish green.
• Fruit: Inconspicuous, oblong shape, truncated base, smooth-furrowed sides, and crowned, toothed membrane.
 

Height:

• 2-3ft.

Flowering

• Flowers are produced from mid summer through fall.
• Small, white, numerous, daisy-like; yellow centers; 10-20 white rays surround disk.

Range

• Native to central and southern Europe.
• Naturalized in most parts of the temperate zone, including North America.
 

Habitat

• Mountain scrub, rocky slopes, walls, waste places.

History

• The Ancient Greek physician Dioscrides valued the herb for it's effects on the uterus.  It was often used in childbirth for irregular contractions and to help with delivery. It was also used for fevers.
• Ancient Greek physicians used it to reduce inflammation and treat menstrual cramps.
• In more recent times, in the southwestern United States and in Finland, it has been taken as a tonic for a variety of ailments. 
• In Cuba, it has been used as an antiperiodic.
• Has been known to be used as an ingredient in making confectioneries and wines.
• Was used as an insect repellent.
• The 17th century herbalist, John Parkinson, said it helped those recovering from opium overdose.
• It was recommended for toothaches by Cotton Mather.
• Throughout history it has been noted for a wide variety of ailments including "female hysteria", infant colic, shortness of breath, melancholia, vertigo, arthritis, kidney stones, constipation and insect bites.

Uses Today

• In 1985 the British Medical Journal confirmed that feverfew helps alleviate the pain of migraines.  A survey of 270 people with migraines in Great Britain found that more than 70% of them felt much better after taking an average of 2 - 3 fresh feverfew leaves daily.
• Some believe it helps relieve the pain of arthritis.  Some laboratory tests show that feverfew can reduce inflammation, so researchers thought it might help treat rheumatoid arthritis. But a human study found that feverfew didn't work any better than placebo in improving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
• dried flowers used in flower arrangements.
• One ingredient in feverfew is thought to be pyrethrin.  If this is true, it may be why it was used as an insect repellent in the past.
 

Risks:

• Do not take feverfew if you are pregnant. Feverfew may cause your uterus to contract. This may raise the risk of miscarriage or preterm delivery. It's also best to avoid using it when breastfeeding.

Interactions:

•  It is possible that feverfew may affect blood clotting, but this has not been proven in humans. Just to be safe, it may be best to avoid combining feverfew with other blood-thinning supplements or drugs
 
 
Source: Various sources including WebMD and University of Maryland Medical Center

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand historical and medicinal uses of this plant. In no way are we suggesting or telling readers to use this plant as mentioned above.

 

 

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