Scientific name: Tanacetum parthenium, Crysanthemum parthenium, Pyrethrum parthenium, Matricaria pyrethrum

Common names: Featherfew, Featherfoil, Febrifuge Plant

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names: Xiao bai ju

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    الينسون (al yansoon)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Compositae (Daisy)

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Leaf, flower

Collection:  The leaf is collected when the plant is in flower

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: Up to 70 cm   

Actions: Anthelmintic, Anti-inflammatory, bitter, relaxant, vasodilatory, purgative, tonic, emmenagogue (in high doses)

Known Constituents:  Sesquiterone lactones, containing an alpha-methylene-gamma-lactone group in particular those of the germacranolide including paRTHENOLIDE (.06-.6%), 3-beta-hydroxyparthenolide, guaianolide and others containing chlorine; sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, polyacetylene compounds; essential oil, flananoids.  Melatonin has been detected in commercial preperations


Constituents Explained:


The name feveerfew is from the latin word febrifugia which means “fever redcuer.”  This small bush has distintive white flowers with yellow It has light green leaves which grow upto 2-9cm long.

Traditional Use:

The flower has a smell that bees dislike.  A strong herb to remedy headaches and migraine.  This use also extends to dizziness and tinnitus.

Seems to have anti inflammatory properties that are used incases of rheutiasim. 

Its been used to treat fever, hence the name as well as arthritis and digestive problems.

It is a herb that is a strong bitter, making it useful to stimulatye digestion, and to treat worms.

Has been used to induce the flow of menstation and relieve period pains.

There is a highly publicized story about a welsh doctor’s wife, named Anne Jenkins, who in 1973, upon the advice from a friend, start taking 3 fresh leaves of feverfew daily.  After a time period of roughly 10 months she claimed her headaches had vanished, and stayed away, providing she kept taking feverfew.7

welsh doctors wife story

Toxic at extremely high doses.

Feverfew and Chamomile are sometimes mistaken for one another.

Its good to ease the stomach, and can promote menstruation if it is delayed.1  The flower can sometimes act as a purgative.

Parthenolide, as sesquiterpene lactone, derives its name after the botanical name for feverfew (tanacetum parthenium) is found mainly in the flowers and fruit.  This has been used as an antiinflammatory, for headaches and blood clots. It is not soluble in water. Its use is being explored in anti-cancer drugs.

Clinical Studies:

Therapeutic needs of migraineurs vary considerably from patient to patient and even attack to attack. Some attacks require high-end therapy, while other attacks have treatment needs that are less immediate. 

While triptans are considered the “gold standard” of migraine therapy, they do have limitations and many patients are seeking other therapeutic alternatives. In 2005, an open-label study of feverfew/ginger suggested efficacy for attacks of migraine treated early during the mild headache phase of the attack.

In this multi-center pilot study, 60 patients treated 221 attacks of migraine with sublingual feverfew/ginger or placebo. All subjects met International Headache Society criteria for migraine with or without aura, experiencing 2-6 attacks of migraine per month within the previous 3 months.

Subjects had <15 headache days per month and were not experiencing medication overuse headache. Inclusion required that subjects were able to identify a period of mild headache in at least 75% of attacks. Subjects were required to be able to distinguish migraine from non-migraine headache. 

Subjects were randomized 3:1 to receive either sublingual feverfew/ginger or a matching placebo and were instructed but not required to treat with study medication at the earliest recognition of migraine.

Sixty subjects treated 208 evaluable attacks of migraine over a 1-month period; 45 subjects treated 163 attacks with sublingual feverfew/ginger and 15 subjects treated 58 attacks with a sublingual placebo preparation. 

Evaluable diaries were completed for 151 attacks of migraine in the population using feverfew/ginger and 57 attacks for those attacks treated with placebo. At 2 hours, 32% of subjects receiving active medication and 16% of subjects receiving placebo were pain-free.

At 2 hours, 63% of subjects receiving feverfew/ginger found pain relief. Feverfew/ginger was generally well tolerated with oral numbness and nausea being the most frequently occurring adverse event.

Sublingual feverfew/ginger appears safe and effective as a first-line abortive treatment for a population of migraineurs who frequently experience mild headache prior to the onset of moderate to severe headache.


Cady RK, Goldstein J, Nett R, Mitchell R, Beach ME, Browning R. “A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study Of Sublingual Feverfew And Ginger (LipiGesic M) In The Treatment Of Migraine.” 2011 July-August http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21631494