Herbal medicine has an impressive track record in treating migraines and chronic headaches. Feverfew treats the cause of the headaches rather than simply the pain. Both the British Medical Journal and the Harvard Medical School Health Letter have paid tribute to the success of feverfew in relieving migraines.
Clinical tests have shown the use of feverfew may reduce of frequency and severity of headaches. It may be more effective than other nonsteroidal antiinflammatories (NSAIDS), like aspirin. It is the combination of ingredients in the feverfew plant that brings such effective relief. It works to inhibit the release of two inflammatory substances, serotonin and prostaglandins, both believed to contribute to the onset of migraines. By inhibiting these amines as well as the production of the chemical histamine, the herb controls inflammation that constricts the blood vessels in the head and prevents blood vessel spasms which may contribute to headaches.
In several studies, both the frequency and the severity of migraines were reduced among study participants who took feverfew daily as a preventive measure. However, active migraine headaches were not relieved by taking feverfew. Feverfew should be taken regularly to receive maximum benefit and protection from migraines.
Menstrual cramps occur when the uterine lining produces too much prostaglandin, a hormone that can cause pain and inflammation. Because it can help limit the release of prostaglandin, feverfew may have a role to play in easing menstrual cramps. While more research is required, there's probably no harm in starting to take feverfew a day before you anticipate that your menstrual cramps will begin.
Feverfew has also been used for relieving the pain and inflammation of arthritis. It is known that chemicals in feverfew may reduce the body's production of substances that initiate and prolong inflammation, which is the body's response to irritation, injury, or infection. Inflammation usually includes pain, redness, and swelling in the area of the damage ,and it can occur within body tissues as well as on the surface of the skin. Chemicals in feverfew are thought to prevent blood components called platelets from releasing inflammatory substances. Feverfew may also reduce the body's production of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances made in the body and involved in regulating a number of body functions including blood pressure, blood vessel tone, and temperature, as well as inflammation. All of these effects could help relieve fever, arthritis, and migraines.
Additional benefits include lower blood pressure, less stomach irritation and a renewed sense of well-being. Feverfew has been used to stimulate appetite, and improve digestion and kidney function. It may also relieve dizziness, tinnitus, and painful or sluggish menstruation. Its extracts have been claimed to relieve asthma, coughs, dermatitis and worms.
25 million Americans spend billion a year on medication for migraines. But many of the over-the-counter and prescription pain killers have a "rebound effect" after a period of use. The unfortunate consequence is that the drug actually begins to cause the headache. Feverfew does not have this problem and is recommended by experts such as Dr. Andrew Weil as an effective alternative for headache sufferers. Since Feverfew is a fraction of the cost of the pharmaceutical drugs and has been shown to be effective for over two-thirds of those who use it consistently, the savings could be enormous.