The Spartan Guide to Feverfew
The Claim Taking feverfew orally can reduce the frequency of migraines, and when headaches do occur, it can cut down on pain, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise. The plant grows naturally across Europe, South America, and North America, and the dried leaves (and occasionally the flowers and stems) are packaged as capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and teas.
The Evidence Parthenolide, an anti-inflammatory chemical in the plant, seems to help shut down the chemical cascade that kicks off a migraine. And although the research is a bit mixed, it seems to work—but only in properly high doses. The Canadian government, for example, allows makers of feverfew formulations claim that the product helps prevent migraines only if the concentration of parthenolide is 0.2 percent or more. And the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society both note in their evidence-based guidelines that feverfew extract may be effective for staving off migraines.
“I like to use it two to three times a day in combination with magnesium, because I find there’s a synergistic effect,” says Svetlana Kogan, M.D., a family physician in New York City and author of Diet Slave No More. Feverfew is not an acute treatment, she adds, so there’s no point in taking it after the pain already sets in. But taking it on a daily basis can make a huge difference: “In my experience, there’s a 75 to 80 percent chance it’s going to prevent headaches, including migraine.”
How to Use It Most migraine research circles around 50 to 150 mg taken once daily, while Dr. Kogan tends to go a bit higher, starting patients at 100 milligrams (mg) twice a day.