Herb: Feverfew

Latin name: Tanacetum parthenium

Synonyms: Chrysanthemum parthenium, Matricaria parthenium

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Feverfew:

Feverfew has gained a good reputation as a medicinal herb and extensive research since 1970 has proved it to be of special benefit in the treatment of certain types of migraine headaches and rheumatism. It is also thought of as a herb for treating arthritis and rheumatism. The leaves and flowering heads are anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aperient, bitter, carminative, emmenagogue, sedative, stimulant, stings, stomachic, vasodilator and vermifuge. The plant is gathered as it comes into flower and can be dried for later use. Use with caution, the fresh leaves can cause dermatitis and mouth ulcers if consumed. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women. A tea made from the whole plant is used in the treatment of arthritis, colds, fevers etc. It is said to be sedative and to regulate menses. An infusion is used to bathe swollen feet. Applied externally as a tincture, the plant is used in the treatment of bruises etc. Chewing 1 - 4 leaves per day has proven to be effective in the treatment of some migraine headaches.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Mountain scrub, rocky slopes, walls, waste places and a weed of gardens, avoiding acid soils.

Edible parts of Feverfew:

The dried flowers are used as a flavouring in cooking certain pastries. The plant is used in cooking to impart a deliciously aromatic bitter taste to certain foods. A tea is made from the dried flowers.

Other uses of the herb:

The dried flower buds are a source of an insecticide. They are said to have the same properties as pyrethrum (obtained mainly from T. cinerariifolia). Steep 1 cupful of the dried flowers in one litre of hot soapy water for an hour. Strain, then allow to cool slightly before use. An essential oil from the plant is used in perfumery.

Propagation of Feverfew:

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed and do not allow the pot to dry out. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown outdoors in situ during the spring. Plants usually self-sow freely and so, once you have the plant, further sowing is usually unnecessary. Division in spring. Since the plants are quite short-lived, this method is not really very serviceable.

Cultivation of the herb:

Mountain scrub, rocky slopes, walls, waste places and a weed of gardens, avoiding acid soils.

Known hazards of Tanacetum parthenium:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.