A photo of feverfew blooms

As we continue to learn about the remarkable efficacy of traditional pain relief methods, such as acupuncture, which has been proven to be as effective as medication for migraines, we see that there are many alternatives to drugs for common problems, such as headaches and migraines.

Feverfew is a traditional pain medication that used to fill the roles that we currently turn to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for today, such as pain relief and control of–surprise!–fevers. And recent research shows it actually could be effective for headaches, including migraines.

The History of Feverfew

Traditionally, the Greeks were the ones who discovered the medicinal properties of feverfew. Supposedly, it was used to save the life of someone who fell from the Parthenon during its construction (~447 BC), and they named it Parthenium. The modern scientific name of the plant, Tanacetum parthenium, alludes to its history.

Its long history of effective use is also referred to in its nickname, “the Medieval aspirin.”

The Chemistry of Feverfew

We’re not entirely sure of the way that feverfew works, but we have some guesses. It is currently believed that the chemical responsible for its effectiveness is parthenolide. Some have suggested a mechanism for the activity of this particular compound, which binds to and inhibits an important component of the inflammation process. However, some have proposed that closely related compounds are actually responsible for activity.

The Effectiveness of Feverfew

As with many herbal medications, there haven’t been enough studies of feverfew to really tell us whether it’s an effective migraine medication. But it does seem to have some promising results. High-quality studies that attempted to use extracts to obtain results failed to show relief of migraine, but lower-quality studies that used dried leaves showed that the plant did provide some relief, according to this 2011 review.

Feverfew is primarily recommended as a preventive treatment. You can drink feverfew tea or take a freeze-dried capsule daily to prevent or reduce migraine occurrence.

But feverfew isn’t without risk. Among its effects are changes in how your liver processes medications, which may lead to differential effects, either slowness in effect or prolonged effect for your current medications. It’s important to talk to your doctor about how these risks might affect your medications.

When taking herbal remedies, it’s important to remember that they are still, in a sense, a drug, with some of the same potential drawbacks. However, TMJ treatment is a truly drug-free remedy for migraines that may help many people get fewer migraines or less painful migraines.

To learn whether TMJ treatment might be effective for your migraines, please call (02) 9686 7375 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at My HIlls Dentist in Baulkham Hills.