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Feverfew has been used for thousands of years as a medical treatment for migraine pain relief. The interest in feverfew has grown dramatically during the past decade as scientific research has before available regarding the use of this herb in the treatment of migraines and some other forms of headache pain. Many migraine suffers have had little aid following the traditional medical path. A number of individuals are finding relief from feverfew.
Feverfew is a member of the compositae family along with daises, sunflowers, dandelions and marigolds. Other names that feverfew is know as include featherfew, featheroil, febrfuge, wild quinine, and bachelor's button. The leaves are oval in shape with toothed, four inch leaves. Feverfew looks similar to the daisy plant with white rays and yellow centers but is smaller in size. The flowers bloom in clusters close together.
Feverfew is native to central and southern Europe, it is now comonly found in temperate climates throughout the world and the U.S. It is cultivated in Japan, Africa and Europe. It grows along roadsides, hedges, walls, gardens and even in waste ground. The entire plant is highly aromatic. It does not require a lot of attention to grow but would be a valuable asset to any garden.
Feverfew has been used for the treatment of various ailments for thousands of years. The exact origin of the first use of feverfew will never be known. But references to feverfew are etched in history. Dioscorides, an ancient Greek herbalist, recommended the use of feverfew almost 2,000 years ago. He valued the herb for childbirth, fevers, melancholy and congestion of the lungs. He also suggested it for "all hot inflammations and swellings," which may refer to arthritis. John Hill, M.D. suggested in 1772 that feverfew be used to treat painful headaches.
The seventeenth-century herbalist John Parkinson claimed it aided in recovery from opium overdose and Cotton Mather recommended it for toothache. It has also been used against ailments as diverse as "female hysteria." infant colic, melancholia, short-windedness, vertigo, arthritis, kidney stones, constipation and insect bites... As a headache remedy it is has been recommended by the British herbalist Gerard in 1633, but recent scientific findings now support claims of its effectiveness.
Historically, feverfew has a rich history. Many cultures benefited from its use. It was brought to the new world by European immigrants who valued this beneficial herb. It grows abundantly throughout the U.S. and is regaining its reputation in treating various conditions.
Research done in 1959 by M. Soucek, Herout and Sorm isolated a sesquiterpene lactone, parthenolide, from the feverfew plant. This is thought to be the major active constituent in feverfew that helps to prevent migraines. Other sesquiterpene lactones found in the plant may also be responsible for its activity. Various studies have found a wide range of the active constituent, parthenolide, from feverfew samples around the world.
Parthenolide levels have been shown to correlate well with feverfew's ability to inhibit the release (in vitro) of the neurotransmitter serotonin, thought to be involved in migraine attacks. In clinical trails of feverfew, samples averaged over twice the proposed minimum. Mexican and Yugoslavian feverfew have been found to contain no detectable parthenolide. While American-grown feverfew fared a bit better in some cases, unfortunately, none of the samples met the proposed 0.2 percent standard and most failed to meet even the French proposed 0.1 percent standard. By contrast, samples from the U.K. with only two exceptions, easily met the exceeded both standards. One U.K. sample had 0.92 percent parthenolide, over 4 times the minimum amount and the one sample grown by the research continues, as do efforts by American growers to improve the potency of their crop.
Parthenolides have been found to inhibit prostaglandins which may be partially responsible for migraines. Some types of prostaglandins are responsible for the inflammation process. Migraines are thought to be due in part to the inflammation or narrowing of the blood vessels in the brain. This can cause intense headache pain and swelling in conditions such as arthritis. Parthenolides may also help to inhibit leukotrienes which stimulate allergic reactions in the body.
FEVERFEW FOR MIGRAINES:
The most popular use of feverfew is in the prevention of migraine headaches. Headaches are extremely common, and migraines can be very hard to treat. Conventional treatments have not been successful for many migraines sufferers which has encouraged the search for other methods of relieving pain. Studies have validated what many herbalists have known for thousands of years; feverfew can help prevent migraines in many cases.
Migraines involve either excessive dilation or contraction of the blood vessels in the brain. They are generally divided into two categories; common and classic. A common migraine is one that comes on slowly with throbbing pain. The intense pain may last from two to 72 hours. The pain is generally centered in the temple area of the head. It may begin at the back of the head and then be concentrated on one side of the head. Nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and numbness may also accompany the pain.
A classic migraine usually involves similar symptoms as the common but it begins with a condition referred to as an aura. It precedes the headache and is sign that one is coming on. It may involve speech difficulties, vision problems, bright lights, flashes or changes in sense of smell.
Migraines make up approximately six percent of headaches. About ten percent of the populations are thought to suffer from migraines from time to time with the majority being women. Migraines can cause severe pain and leave the individual unable to function normally until it subsides. Some migraine sufferers can feel them coming on with visual disturbances, weakness or tingling. Others may have no warning at all.
Some factors that may trigger migraines include:
The wife of the chief medical officer of Britain's National Coal Board suffered chronic migraines. A miner heard about her problem and told her he'd also been longtime migraines suffer; until he started chewing a few feverfew leaves every day. The woman tried the herb, noticed immediate improvement and after 14 months was free of her searing headaches.
A group of researchers at the City of London Migraine Clinic lead by Dr. E steward Johnson conducted a study reported in the British Medical Journal. It followed seventeen patients who ate the fresh leaves of the feverfew plant for at least three months prior to the study to prevent migraines. Eight of the patients received a capsule made from the freeze dried plant while nine received a placebo. Those given the placebo had an increase in frequency and severity of headaches, nausea and vomiting. Those given the feverfew capsules had no increase in frequency or severity of migraines. This has lead some to believe that feverfew is beneficial in the prevention of migraines.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, crossover study published in Lancet in 1988 involved 72 volunteers with one group receiving capsules of feverfew leaves and the other group a placebo. The research was conducted at the University Hospital in Nottingham. The treatment period lasted for four months. The group taking feverfew showed less severity of attacks and a reduction in symptoms associated with migraines such as vomiting. There was a definite improvement in the group using feverfew with no serous side-effects.
Experimental studies have tried to determine the reason for feverfew's effects on migraines. It seems to have similar properties to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) which include aspirin. The parthenolide in the feverfew is felt to be the contributing compound that inhibits the formation of inflammation promoting compounds such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes.
Research has been conducted to elucidate the mechanisms of feverfew actions. Parthenolide, and perhaps other sesquiterpene lactones, have been shown to reduce the secretory activity of blood platelets and white blood cells in laboratory studies, providing a possible basis for feverfew's effectiveness in migraine, arthritis and psoriasis.
Some forms of migraines are though to be associated with abnormal platelet behavior. Platelets are responsible for the release of serotonin, which constricts blood vessels leading to migraine pain. Feverfew has been found to help restrain the release of serotonin from platelets, preventing a migraine from occurring.
FEVERFEW FOR ARTHRITIS:
Feverfew may be a useful treatment in cases of rheumatoid arthritis because of its ability to inhibit the formation of inflammation promoting compounds such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes. It seems to have similar properties to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) which include aspirin but may actually be more effective with less potential complications.
Inflammatory compounds released by white blood cells and platelets contribute greatly to the inflammation and cellular damage found in rheumatoid arthritis. The inhibition of the release of inflammatory particles by feverfew is much greater than that achieved by NSAIDs like aspirin. This coupled with many of feverfew's other effects indicate that feverfew could greatly reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.
OTHER USES OF FEVERFEW:
High blood pressure: Some of the studies involving feverfew and migraines have shown that feverfew may also lower blood pressure.
Insect repellant: Some have used feverfew to prevent insect bites and to help in healing the bites. The flowers have a strong odor.
Menstrual cramps: Feverfew has long been recommended as a relief for menstrual cramps. It may help by soothing the uterine muscles to help them relax.
Allergies: Some have reported beneficial results while using feverfew to control allergy symptoms.
Feverfew Concentrate (100 capsules)