Feverfew is a perennial herb native to south-eastern Europe and Asia. Naturalized widely elsewhere. Found growing on rocky slopes, walls, waste places and a weed of gardens. Cultivation: A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in an ordinary garden soil, plants can even be grown in walls. Often grown in the flower garden, feverfew is usually self-sowing. The leaves have a refreshing aromatic aroma. Growing to 2 1/2 feet the stem is upright, erect, hairy, finely furrowed and branching. Strongly aromatic leaves are alternate, hairless, toothed, light green about 4 inches long, and divided into broad, lobed segments. The lower leaves are bipinnate with oval shaped leaflets. Many daisylike flowerheads (composite) bloom June-August, with white ray flowers surrounding nearly flat yellow centers, growing to about 1 inch across. Gather entire plant in bloom, dry for later use.
Caution: Feverfew should not be used during pregnancy because of the stimulant action on the womb. The fresh leaves may cause mouth ulcers in sensitive people.
Feverfew is edible and medicinal. The dried flowers and plant are used as a flavoring in cooking to give food a deliciously aromatic bitter taste. It has a good reputation as alternative medicine and extensive research has proved it to be of special benefit in the treatment of certain types of migraine headaches and rheumatism or arthritis. The plant is rich in sesquiterpene lactones, the principal one being parthenolide. Parthenolide helps prevent excessive clumping of platelets and inhibits the release of certain chemicals, including serotonin and some inflammatory mediators. Constituents of Feverfew are Volatile oils, containing pinene and several pinene derivatives, bornylacetate and angelate, costic acid, b-farnesine and spiroketalenol ethers. Other constituents include essential oils, flavonoid glycosides, pinene derivatives and costic acid.
Feverfew should be taken regularly to receive maximum benefit and protection from migraines. The leaves and flowering heads are antiinflammatory, antispasmodic, aperient, bitter, carminative, emmenagogue, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, vasodilator and vermifuge. An infusion made from the whole plant is used in the treatment of arthritis, colds, fevers, as a sedative and to regulate menses. Also used as a foot bath for swollen feet. Applied externally as a tincture, the plant is used in the treatment of bruises. Chewing several leaves a day has proven to be effective in preventing some migraine headaches. Feverfews sedative properties make it useful in hysterical complaints, nervousness, low spirits, and is a general tonic. Also said to be good as a syrup for coughs, wheezing and breathing difficulties. The dried flower buds are said to have the same properties as pyrethrum, and used as an insecticide. An essential oil from the plant is used in perfumery.
Infusion: To 1 oz. of dry herb add a pint of boiling water, allowed to cool, take in half cup doses 3 times a day.