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This fact sheet provides basic information about feverfew—common names, what the science says, potential side effects and cautions, and resources for more information.
Originally a plant native to the Balkan mountains of Eastern Europe, feverfew—a short bush with daisy-like flowers—now grows throughout Europe, North America, and South America. For centuries, traditional uses of feverfew have included fevers, headaches, stomach aches, toothaches, insect bites, infertility, and problems with menstruation and with labor during childbirth. Newer folk or traditional uses for feverfew include migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, allergies, asthma, tinnitus (ringing or roaring sounds in the ears), dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
The dried leaves—and sometimes flowers and stems—of feverfew are used to make supplements, including capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. The leaves are sometimes eaten fresh.
What the Science Says
- Some research suggests that feverfew may be helpful in preventing migraine headaches; however, results have been mixed and more evidence is needed from well-designed studies.
- One study found that feverfew did not reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in women whose symptoms did not respond to conventional medicines. It has been suggested that feverfew could help those with milder symptoms.
- There is not enough evidence available to assess whether feverfew is beneficial for other uses.
- NCCIH-funded researchers have studied ways to standardize feverfew; that is, to prepare it in a consistent manner. Standardized preparations can be used in future studies of feverfew.
Side Effects and Cautions
- No serious side effects have been reported for feverfew. Side effects can include canker sores, swelling and irritation of the lips and tongue, and loss of taste.
- Less common side effects can include nausea, digestive problems, and bloating.
- People who take feverfew for a long time and then stop taking it may have difficulty sleeping, headaches, joint pain, nervousness, and stiff muscles.
- Women who are pregnant should not use feverfew because it may cause the uterus to contract, increasing the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.
- People can have allergic reactions to feverfew. Those who are allergic to other members of the daisy family (which includes ragweed and chrysanthemums) are more likely to be allergic to feverfew.
- Tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. For tips about talking with your health care providers about complementary health approaches, see NCCIH's Time to Talk campaign.
For More Information
The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
A service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.
Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset.
PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset: ods.od.nih.gov/Research/PubMed_Dietary_Supplement_Subset.aspx
NIH National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus
- Awang DVC, Leung AY. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005:211–217.
- Feverfew. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturaldatabase.com on June 4, 2009.
- Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L. Schultz-Bip.). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturalstandard.com on June 4, 2009.
This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.