Can Feverfew Really Help With Headaches?

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Migraine headaches can be a real burden — limiting our ability to work and perform our daily tasks effectively. When migraines strike, it can put a halt to everything we’re doing and force us to remain alone in a dark room waiting for the pain to subside on its own. 

Most people who suffer from migraines find there’s no specific cause, and there’s nothing they can do to prevent an attack before it starts — leaving them with little to no control over their lives. 

However, in recent years a herbal remedy has started to gain traction as a potential migraine-destroyer. A humble herb by the name of feverfew (Tanecetum vulgare) contains a series of chemicals that can stop the underlying causes of migraine headaches. 

How does this work? 

To explain, let’s first cover what actually causes a migraine headache. 

What Causes Migraine Headaches? 

There are a few potential causes for this painful condition, each involving a chemical imbalance in the brain and blood. 

The most common cause is a spasm of the arteries feeding the brain. As the blood vessels tighten and relax over and over, it causes a throbbing sensation — particularly in the back of the head. 

Another common cause is the release of serotonin from immune cells (mast cells) in the brain. This triggers a cascade of chemical reactions that can cause changes in sensory perception (visual and auditory), and light sensitivity. 

Other, less common causes include neuro-inflammation (inflammation in the brain), and excessive granule secretion from platelet cells in the blood. The later cause is extremely complex involving hundreds of different inflammatory compounds. This process remains poorly understood but it’s common to find excessive granule activity in patients suffering from migraine attacks. 

How Feverfew Works to Stop Migraines

Feverfew is one of the few herbs that can actually stop both of these causes before they happen: 

  1. Feverfew stops the release of serotonin from the mast cells
  2. Feverfew relaxes spastic arteries in the brain
  3. Feverfew inhibits inflammation in the brain by a similar mechanism as aspirin (COX inhibition)
  4. Feverfew inhibits granule secretion from the platelet cells

How to Use Feverfew For Migraines

Using feverfew is simple, you can buy capsules or tinctures of the plant and take small amounts everyday. 

The effects of the herb build up over time. You may not notice any direct benefits from using the herb for the first week or two, but with steady use, migraine attacks will become much less common. When migraines do occur, they tend to be less severe and last for a much shorter amount of time.