If you are in the Austin area, I am sure you know about the rains we have been having, and if not you might have seen that Austin City Limits was canceled due to rain. Rain storms, especially big ones, have become a bit of a pain for me since barometric pressure changes tend to trigger my migraines.
While it isn’t so much fun to suffer through a migraine, it has made me more accurate than the weatherman, and definitely more than Miss Cleo.
We have gone through a few other migraine herbs that help to deal with pain, but Feverfew, otherwise known as Bachelor’s Buttons and a few other common names, is one of those that has long been known to be a cure that is still effective today.
Written about by Greek herbalist physician Dioscorides in the first century and it was used to treat inflammation and menstrual cramps. It gets its name from its use to reduce fevers, from the Latin febrifugia, but it is now known to not be as much use for that as it is in treating other issues. Another name that comes from Plutarch’s writings, is Parthenium, which supposedly came from it saving the life of someone who had fallen off of the Parthenon during construction. There is a story from the UK that a chief medical officer’s wife was suffering migraines, and nothing helped. Then a local, who had overheard her talking about it, told her that he had been chewing feverfew leaves, and had reduced the pain and frequency of the migraines.
While this plant looks a lot like chamomile it definitely acts and smells different. The odor is strongly bitter, and the taste is as well. So bitter bees don’t even really care for it. All good medicine is supposed to taste bad though right? And boy does this taste bad, looks very pretty in your garden though.
Feverfew is great for reducing inflammation, anti-spasmodic, and causes vasodilation. This helps with most of the common symptoms that people who have migraines suffer. You can also take this as a preventative measure to help stop migraines before they start. The best way to get a direct hit on tackling that migraine, chewing has proved to be the most effective. If you are chewing the leaves just on their own, try to keep them in contact with your cheek or under your tongue, it will help you absorb the oils faster.
- 1-2 large Feverfew leaves, or 4 small (small are about 4 cm)
- chaser – something sweet or strongly flavored food to get the taste out
Just chew the leaves and hold them in your cheeks for as long as you can stand, or under the tongue. It is bitter as I have said, and it helps to chase them with something that will help with removing or improving the taste. You do need to be careful not to do this too often, since repeated use can irritate the membranes in the mouth.
ProTip: You can add the leaves to pretty much anything, salads and sandwiches are a great way to take this since you can mask some of the bitter with them. You can also cook with them but I would suggest adding the leaves directly to your plate, and not cooking them with the food, so they do not lose potency.
Super Migraine Tea with Feverfew
- 1 teaspoon fresh feverfew leaves (dried will also work)
- 1 teaspoon dried chamomile flowers
- 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
- 1 teaspoon dried Holy basil
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon balm (dried will work here again)
- 1 teaspoon dried passionflower
- 2-3 slices of fresh ginger (1/4-1/2 a teaspoon of dried if you don’t have fresh)
- 8 oz boiling water
Steep for at least 5 minutes, longer you steep the more bitter it will get, and drink. You can definitely add honey or another sweetener to make things more palatable. To make a full teapot you can always double or triple the recipe.
There is always the options of capsules and tinctures. Capsules you can make them out of 2-3 fresh leaves, or from dried. do not take more than 1 capsule of feverfew, about half a gram. And you make them just like we discussed with turmeric.
Tinctures you make with the standard methods we have gone over before, fill jar with dried herb leaving a gap for expansion. Cover in vodka or other strong alcohol, put in cool dark place, and shake daily for a month. Strain and use. You can take 30-60 drops no more than 3 times a day. Again it is very bitter like hops, which it can be combined with, or can be used in conjunction with other herbal tinctures that help with your migraine symptoms.
This is another herb that has a lot of commercial preparations and you may be able to find ready made teas, tea blends, extracts and tinctures. Follow the box directions for these.
An interesting none pain related use for feverfew is for itchy bug bites. It is also safe to give to cats and dogs as a pain reliever, and it makes a great flea killing wash for pets.
Flea Wash for Pets
- 3-4 cups boiling water
- 1 heaping handful fresh fevervew leaves
Steep for 10-30 mins, and allow to cool. Saturate fur as best possible, and attempt to leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing, you should start to see fleas dropping off. It is fine to leave it on them, but I prefer to rinse.
Bug Bite Compress
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon feverfew leaves
- absorbent cloth or towel
Steep for 10-30 minutes, allow to cool. Soak towel and apply to affected areas.
ProTip: You can use tincture for this as well, just put a drop or two right on the bug bite to alleviate itching and pain.
There has been lab studies with feverfew but they are too small for medical science to make a clear statement on if it does or does not address migraine pain effectively. There have been studies that found that feverfew works significantly better than a placebo with migraines but it doesn’t seem to work for everyone. So this is one herb I would like to stress you should test and see how it works for you. You may need to lower or increase doses slightly, but please consult a professional before increasing. If you don’t get good results, it may not work well with your body chemistry and I suggest trying other options.
Remember, educate yourself, it is on you to do so. Do your research and check for interactions, like on WebMD. If you are ever in doubt, ask a professional!
If you are looking for more detailed chemical information on feverfew go here.