Escape migraines with feverfew

If you suffer from migraines, you’ll be happy to hear of a UK study that shows once and for all that the herb feverfew can offer relief. Feverfew was used by the ancient Greeks to treat headaches, fever and stomach upset and gained popularity in the 1970s as a “headache herb.” Since that time, it has been the subject of several clinical trials to help determine its effects.

In one trial, the Department of Medicine at University Hospital in Nottingham tested the use of feverfew in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. In this four-month trial, 59 volunteers were given either feverfew or a placebo. Researchers found that treatment with feverfew brought a reduction in the overall number and individual severity of migraines. Researchers think that feverfew works by preventing the release of prostaglandins, which dilate blood vessels and cause inflammation.

A recent review conducted by the University of Exeter looked at this and every other randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study they could find on using feverfew for migraines. Of the six clinical trials that met their strict criteria, the researchers found that every trial favoured the use of feverfew over a placebo for the treatment of migraines. The researchers also noted that the studies reported no major safety concerns.

Feverfew is most often taken in capsules of powdered feverfew leaf at 80 to 100 mg daily. Though feverfew has no major side effects, it should not be taken during pregnancy.

Sources: Leslie Beck’s Nutrition Encyclopedia by L Beck, Prentice Hall:2001; Public Health Nutr 2000 Dec;3(4A):509-14; Lancet 1988 Jul 23;2(8604):189-92