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For as long as I've known him my husband has suffered from quite severe and frequent headaches -regular readers of my reviews will probably be getting the impression that he's a weakling of a hypochondriac but he's really not, honest! These didn't really bother him as they were an improvement from the migraines he used to suffer as a teenager and for which he was prescribed allsorts of horrible powerful drugs and so when one of the lesser headaches struck he just popped a couple of Ibuprofen and waited for them to take effect. I, on the other hand have never really been into pill-popping (mainly due to an inability to swallow the blooming things when I was younger) and try to avoid taking medication unless absolutely necessary. I'm more of a believer in diet being a big part of overall health and well-being rather than trying to solve aches, pains and ills with chemicals. So I didn't like the amount of Ibuprofen he was going through and worried about what they were doing to his insides.
So when my mum read about feverfew in one of her women's magazines (barely a week passes when she doesn't share some pearl of wisdom gleaned from these fountains of knowledge!) she was straight on the phone and telling me all about it. According to this magazine (probably Woman's Own, but don't quote me on that) it was great for preventing headaches and had been used for centuries as a pain reliever. Ever sceptical (and weary) of the origins of her wisdom I thanked her, told her I'd look into it and promptly forgot all about it. This time, however, she thwarted me and on her next visit turned up with a bottle of feverfew capsules for my husband to try.
The one's she'd found in her local health food shop are the Lifeplan brand and she'd got him a bottle of 90 for £6.99. Not for my mother a bottle of 30 so he could try them first. Oh no, she was so convinced that the health experts of a woman's magazine knew what they were talking about that she got him a 3 month supply!
So what actually is feverfew? To be honest, I'd never heard of it until this point. I'm quite a keen gardener and grow several of my own herbs, but I'd never come across this one. A quick trip to Wiki informs us that it's grown for medicinal as well as ornamental purposes and grows to be a small bush with citrussy fragrant leaves. Interestingly it actually acquired it's name from the Latin for fever reducer, so it's name alone would leave you be believe that there is something to my mum's belief. It's actually part of the sunflower family and grows lovely little daisy-esque yellow and white flowers. It goes on to tell us that it is used as a herbal treatment for headaches, arthritis and digestive problems but that scientific research puts this down to a placebo affect rather than an actual one. As with all supplements/medications feverfew is unsuitable for some people to take and if in doubt you should consult your doctor first.
The capsules that my mum purchased came in a dark brown translucent bottle with a white screw top lid, which is easy enough to unscrew so should be kept away from little one's hands. There's no child-proof lid on these, which could be an issue for some, but not for us with no children around. The info on the bottle tells us that each capsule contains 250mg and is additive free...always a relief in a herbal supplement!! There is other brief information on the back of the bottle about the history and use of feverfew (interestingly it's meant to be an anti-inflammatory aswell as helping with PMT and period pain...hubby can't comment on the last assertions though!). There is more reassurance about it's purity, stating that the capsules contain only dried powdered leaf from the feverfew plant in a hard capsule shell which can either be swallowed or split into a glass of hot water.
When you open the bottle you're hit by a quite strong herbal, green smell. It's hard to describe. it's not exactly fresh cut grass but could well be mistaken for dried cut grass, if you know what I mean! I personally don't like it, but it doesn't put my husband off them, although he's never braved the hot drink option, always opting just to swallow a pill quickly with water. He reports that they do have a slight herbal taste but it's not too bad and doesn't linger once the capsule has been swallowed. The pills themselves are quite big (in my non-pill-swallowing-opinion!), well over a centimetre long and about half a centimetre wide. Urgh!
For the first few days he took them my husband still got a couple of headaches but they weren't as bad as normal and he didn't feel the need to take any painkillers. After that, though, the feverfew seemed to really take effect and his headaches drastically reduced in both number, frequency and intensity. In the past he used to get through at least one pack of 16 Ibuprofen tablets a week, if not more, but since he started taking the feverfew we only buy them once every couple of months, which is a great relief for me that he's not filling his body with strong chemicals anymore. I know taking anything can have side affects and that it's preferable not to take anything at all, but given a choice between something purely natural and something filled with goodness only knows what chemicals, the natural choice will always win for me.
Since he first started taking one capsule a day about 3 years ago my husband suffers much less from headaches and will continue to take feverfew as a prevention rather than a cure (not that he has a choice as he now gets a bottle in his birthday bag and as a stocking filler at Christmas too!). Whether this herbal remedy actually does prevent his headaches or whether it's a placebo affect is, obviously, impossible to tell. But as long as it does prevent them neither of us really cares!
I briefly considered the possibility of growing feverfew myself and using it in cooking/for hot drinks rather than spending money on the capsules but a) planting space is limited in our garden and it's quite a wildl spreading plant, b) my husband really doesn't like the idea of making a drink out of it and c) it's usually my mums money that buys them anyway! If, however, you're into gardening and have a herb garden or are interested in the medicinal properties of herbs then you should definitely consider growing one of the plants (although I'd recommend planting it in a pot then sinking the pot into the ground if you don't want it to take over your herb bed!) as the flowers make it attractive as well as useful.
So it's time for me to eat my words, apologise to my mum and thank her profusely! Because, whether it's a real affect or a placebo one, her feverfew pills really do seem to have made a difference to my husband's headaches and he very very rarely gets one anymore. And at £6.99 for a three months supply they're not too expensive either, on the odd occasions we end up buying them ourselved. So thanks mum!!
(I'm only knocking one star off because, were I to suffer from frequent headaches, there's no way I could ever swallow pills that big!
As I have previously mentioned I studied herbal medicine before deciding it wasn't for me but it left me with a great respect for the power of plants in medicine and their use in alternatives to traditional medicines. Of course this is the modern world and if I have a headache I'm just as likely to reach for the paracetamol like everyone else but there are other alternatives out there for people who are willing to do a little research.
Feverfew is a common growing plant that can be found all over the world who's flowers look somewhat like daisies and is known to have been in use as a medicinal herb for thousands of years. It has many uses but its main uses today is as a natural anti-inflammatory, pain killer and antihistamine.
Probably it's most popular usage and the thing that turns most people to Feverfew is as a remedy for migraine sufferers. I'm lucky enough not to suffer from migraines very often but as anyone who suffers them they can be debilitating and no amount of painkillers seems to help. This is where Feverfew comes in and a tea infusion with dry Feverfew leaves will quickly reduce the symptoms and in me it is the only thing that will take away the throbbing behind my eyes. This is because the Feverfew stops the blood vessels in the brain from constricting which is what causes the throbbing.
As well as relieving the symptoms of a migraine attack for those people who suffer them regularly then taking a Feverfew capsule everyday may help to stop the attacks from occurring or at the very least reduce the severity of them.
Feverfew is an excellent pain reliever for those who are allergic to aspirin as it has a very similar effect on the body but of course without the side effects.
It is also a muscle relaxant so it is useful in the treatment of joint pain such as arthritis or even just if you have had a strenuous workout at the gym. Due to its effectiveness against muscle spasms it is also used to treat menstrual cramps and irritable bowel syndrome.
I have horrible skin that becomes sensitive and inflamed easily and I use a lot of Herbs to try and help keep it under control and when my skin is playing up particularly badly Feverfew tea is helpful is getting it back under control. It is not the most effective herb for skin but it does help in conjunction with other treatments to control the inflammation. Now the tea is not the most pleasant tasting but a few drops of honey in it helps it go down a lot better.
There are studies that back up the claims that Feverfew will help with allergies such as hayfever as it is a proven powerful antihistamine, I have no firsthand knowledge of its effectiveness in helping with allergies but because it is so successful in other areas I wouldn't hesitate to try it if I ever develop any.
Like all medicinal herbs just because they are natural does not mean they are risk free. Feverfew is one of the safer herbs but in very few cases it can cause some side effects such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. These are rare and most people can take Feverfew without any complications but it should not be used by pregnant women, small children or those on blood thinning medication.
One word of advice is that this is a powerful herb and those that do take it on a regular basis and suddenly stop will experience some withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain but these will soon pass.
I hope this review has been helpful and thanks for reading. If you are thinking of starting a course of medicinal herbs then i recommend you visit a practising herbalist as they will be able to give you the correct dosage requirements for your particular aliment.
This plant can be found in hedgerows in many areas of Britain and Europe, its common names are featherfew, feather foil, flirtwort and bachelors buttons.
It is has a lovely daisy like flower head and can be grown easily in your own garden. If your every looking around a garden centre then youll probably find this plant in the herb section of the garden centre, I have also seen this plant in the garden section of B&Q and the prices of this plant can vary depending on the size and condition of the plant anything from 70p up to £2.00 can be paid but I have found these at the boot sales for 50p from local gardeners.
You can also buy the tablets at the health shops for around £2 and these are foe 30 tablets and made by Welland or Nelsons your local health shop will be able to tell you more about then if you ask one of the assistants.
This plant is a great healer of headaches and migraines, the tablets are very good and effective but as well as the tablets the leaves of the plant can be used in an infusion of hot water and sweetened with sugar to make a drink which will help when the chest is full of a cough. It can help clear the chest of wheezing and help when you find it hard to breath when you have a chesty cough.
If you dry and add the leaves to alcohol to make a tincture this then can be dabbed on the skin when you have been bitten by insects, if your out on a picnic or just being annoyed by the summer thunder flies, this is a good thing to have handy in a little bottle to dab onto the skin.
It can be used as a tincture, a poultice, an infusion or a decoction, but if your not sure what these terms are then its best to just stick to the infusions which is easy to make, just add the dried leaves to hot water like your making a cup of tea.
If your taking this for headaches or migraine then as soon as the symptoms subside stop taking the remedy.
Also you have to remember this is not suitable for pregnant women or children and if your breast feeding then stay away from this, always read up about any herbal medicine or consult a herbalist before self prescribing as there are lots of good cures with herbs but they are not always suitable for everyone.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a small yellow flowered daisy, which is easily gown in the garden. It is the leaves, which are used as an herbal remedy, and they should be picked just before the plan flowers. Feverfew is good for period pains, vertigo, and arthritis. The name is a corruption of the word “febrifuge”. Feverfew is probably more widely known and used in the relief of migraine – my mother suffered with migraine for many years, during which she tried many different over the counter drugs which were not very effective. Only when she discovered feverfew, did she gain rapid relief. It is also good for suffers of arthritis as it has anti-inflammatory properties, in addition, it also has antispasmodic and emmenagogue properties. For medicinal purposes, the raw feverfew leaf can be chewed (see Caution below) or used in the form of a tincture, which is also made from the fresh plant. At the first signs of migraine, take one teaspoon of the tincture in a little water and repeat after two hours if necessary. For repeated attacks of migraine or as a treatment for arthritis, take one teaspoon every morning. If you have a feverfew plan, two to three medium-sized leaves are equal to one teaspoon on tincture. There are many preparations of feverfew available on the market, although the fresh plant is probably most effective. If you don’t have a feverfew plant in your garden, or for during the winter months, make fresh feverfew sandwiches and keep them in the freezer! Butter your bread as usual and cover one slice with a double layer of fresh feverfew leaves. Put the top slice on and press down. Cut the sandwiches into small cubes, ensuring that each cube contains two or three medium-sized feverfew leaves. Wrap each cube in cling film and freeze – don’t forget to label and date them. At the first signs of migraine or headache, eat one cube then one cube every two hours until the headache is o
ver. Alternatively, feverfew capsules can be purchased from health food stores such as Holland & Barratt – www.hollandandbarratt.com. Caution ------- Feverfew should not be taken during pregnancy or whilst breast-feeding. It should also not be given to young children and should not be taken by anyone using blood-thinking drugs such as Warfarin. If chewed, the leaf can cause mouth ulcers in some people, if this is the case, then feverfew should be taken in the form of a tincture or capsule.
Chrysanthemum parthenium (L), Leucanthemum parthenium, Pyrethrum parthenium, Tanacete parthenii herba or folium. A herbal remedy for the relief of migraine, arthritis and peRiod pain.