Feverfew is another member of the Aster family, the Compositae or Asteraceae. It is closely allied to Chrysanthemums, and for that reason tends to keep pests away from other garden plants. It blooms prolifically all through late June and July, preferring a rich, deep soil with only 4-5 hours of direct sunlight. We harvest the leaves in June, along with some flowers, and cut back the growth after late July to prevent semi-invasive spreading.
Elemental associations: Water
Phytochemistry: Sesquiterpene lactones, tannins, volatile oils, pyrethrin
Actions: Vasodialator, anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue, anti-parasitic
Specific systems: Circulation and inflammatory response
Though not incredibly diaphoretic, this herb may have earned its name from a reported ability to manage fever. I have never used it for this purpose, finding other herbs much more useful in this regard. Other stories remark that the name may be derived from feather-few, in reference to its feathery leaves. Who knows.
Its primary application relies on its vaso-dialatory effect, relaxing the peripheral circulation and making it a great preventative for migraine headaches, when used daily. It can help with other types of inflammation as well – supposedly Dioscorides used it for ‘curing’ arthritis. One story tells of how he used it to save the life of a man who had fallen off the Parthenon in Athens – hence, the Latin name parthenium. Hmm.
It will stimulate menstrual flow, especially if combined with other herbs to this effect. As most Chrysanthemums, it has a slightly toxic quality (no danger for us) which makes it helpful, again in combination with other herbs, to eliminate parasites.
Indications: Migraine prevention, delayed or absent menstruation
Preparation/Dosage: I only recommend a tincture of the fresh leaves and some flowers, due to the incredibly bad taste of the tea. The dry herb is reportedly less effective. Prepare it at 60% alcohol, 1:5. It should have a striking blue-green color when first prepared. Take ¼ teaspoon 3 times a day.