Some of you might have figured out by now that I am a gigantic nerd. One thing that I love to do is study history, specifically Medieval history. One of my favorite historical people to read about is Hildegard, a German Benedictine abatess who is well known for her musical compositions as well as her work as a natural scientist (two of my favorite topics, both modernly and historically). She wrote several books that describe the human body and how it interacts with the natural world, with specifics on what she believed to be the cause of disease. Her works are important for a number of reasons, but largely because the people who practiced Medieval medicine tended to be women who did not write their findings down, however Hildegard did.
I mention Hildegard because she wrote quite a bit about an herb she called Bertram. Today we know of this herb as Feverfew, or Tanacetum parthenium. Feverfew is originally native to Southeastern Europe, North Africa, India, and the Mediterranean. But it has also become naturalized in Australia and North America. It is a member of the Asteraceae family, and closely resembles Chamomile. In most areas, it blooms from July through October. Feverfew's leaves smell lightly of citrus, and the whole plant only grows to about 46 cm in height.
Feverfew was one of Hildegard's favorite herb. She notes, in her Physica, that “...the healthy eat Bertram, because it reduces bad juices, and multiplies the good in human blood, and makes a clear mind. For a patient who is physically run down, Bertram brings back his strength. It leaves nothing in humans undigested, and it prepares the body for good digestion when eaten diligently. It reduces the mucilage in the head, and leads to purifying juices, which purify the eyes. Whether you eat it dry, or in cooked foods, Bertram is as useful to a sick person as to a healthy man. Bertram shoos illness from its host and prevents falling ill. It brings moisture and saliva back to the mouth, and returns us good health.” But these are just a few of the things that Feverfew can be used for.
Common Names- Feverfew, Featherfew, Bertram, Akaraka, Spanish Chamomile, Bride’s Button, Bachelor’s Button, Febrifuge Plant, Wild Chamomile, Flirtwort, Compositae, Mutterkraut
Scientific Name- Tanacetum parthenium previously known as Crysanthemum parthenium
Edibility- Feverfew is edible, but not considered a choice edible, or an important food source. The dried flowers are used to flavor certain pastries and wines. The plant is also used in cooking to impart an aromatic bitter taste to certain foods.
Summary of Actions- Analgesic, Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Antipyretic, Antispasmodic, Aperient, Bitter Tonic, Cardio-tonic, Carminative, Circulation, COX-2 Inhibitor, Demulcent, Diaphoretic, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge, Insect Repellant, Purgative, Relaxant, Stimulant,Vermifuge
Parts Used- Ariel parts
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Xiao Bai Ju in TCM, Feverfew is active on the Lung, Liver, and Stomach Meridians. It's bitter and cool. It tonifies yin, clears heat, clears wind heat, clears liver heat, and calms shen. This makes it useful for migraines, headaches, nausea, vomiting, menstrual disorders, fevers, dizziness, arthritis, anxiety, to increase appetite, and to soothe red, itchy skin disorders.
Essential Oil and Aromatherapy- The essential oil of Feverfew helps to promote calm concentration and focus. It can also help calm vertigo, or a spinning head. Rub a little bit on your temples to help in the case of headache or migraine. It's scent is very similar to camphor, so do not use this essential oil if you are prone to seizures. It blends well with Lavender, Peppermint, Spruce, Frankincense, Rose Otto, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, and Tansy.
Migraines- The active ingredients in Feverfew act on blood platelets and limit the release of serotonin, which contributes to migraine headaches through its effect on blood flow in the brain. Uncontrolled serotonin distributions are one trigger for the discomfort associated with migraines.
Pain and Inflammation- Recent studies have shown that Feverfew has the ability to reduce inflammation, particularly the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other joint conditions. It helps to prevent damage to joints that comes from the degeneration associated with aging, helping to prevent further damage to the joints.
Skin Conditions and Irritation- The demulcent actions of Feverfew help to sooth inflammation in the skin, helping to treat inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
Cancer- In a 2005 study, scientists discovered that parthenolide extracted from Feverfew inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells in the lab. Showing that it has promise in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Fever- The herbs name, Feverfew, derives from the Latin word, febrifugia, meaning, “fever reducer.” One of it's most traditional used is just for this. It helps reduce fevers by promoting perspiration.
Women's Health and Labor- Feverfew helps to relieve cramps, relax nerves, and sooth the nervous system. All of these properties have given it a great reputation as an herb that helps relieve PMS symptoms and to help regulate labor pains to ease labor. It can also be used to induce or ease menstrual flow, which makes it dangerous to take in the early terms of pregnancy.
Digestion- Feverfew is a bitter tonic, helping to improve digestion by stimulating bile flow. It's also a carminative, helping to reduce gas and indigestion.
Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- This herb should not be given to children under two years of age and should not be used if you are breastfeeding. Avoid this herb during pregnancy as Feverfew might cause uterine contractions and abortion. May cause oral ulcers and tongue soreness if the leaves are chewed, fresh or dried. Because Feverfew does have an effect on the circulatory system, use caution when taking certain medications, especially blood thinners. People who have allergies to members of the Compositae (or Asteraceae) family, which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, Feverfew and many other herbs, should not take this herb internally. Do not use the essential oil if you are prone to seizures!
I only included a basic introduction to Feverfew. I hope you have gained a new appreciation for this amazing little herb. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and want to see more, Become a Patron!
11 Impressive Benefits of Feverfew: Organic Facts: https://www.organicfacts.net/feverfew.html
Feverfew: AARM: https://restorativemedicine.org/library/monographs/feverfew/
Feverfew: Gaia Herbs: https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/herbs/feverfew
Feverfew: Oils and Plants: https://www.oilsandplants.com/feverfew.htm
Feverfew: RX List: https://www.rxlist.com/feverfew/supplements.htm
Feverfew: White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/feverfew/
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Feverfew Essential Oil: Living Libations: https://www.livinglibations.com/us/feverfew-essential-oil
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Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium: Ayurvedia Medicare: https://ayurvedamedicare.com/herbs/feverfew-tanacetum-parthenium/
Feverfew Tanacetum parthenium- A Systematic Review: US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210009/
Feverfew Tanacetum partheniumUses, Health Benefits, Dosage, Medicinal Properties: Krishna Herbals: http://www.krishnaherbals.com/feverfew-herb.html
Feverfew- The Natural Headache Reliever that May Cure Cancer: Dr. Axe: https://www.oilsandplants.com/feverfew.htm
The Health Benefits of Feverfew: Very Well Health: https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-health-benefits-of-feverfew-89562
Hildegard's Feverfew Uses: Healthy Hildegard: https://healthyhildegard.com/feverfew-uses/
Tanacetum parthenium: Always Ayurveda: https://www.alwaysayurveda.com/tanacetum-parthenium/
Tanacetum parthenium, Chrysanthemum parthenium: MedicineNet: https://www.medicinenet.com/feverfew_tanacetum_parthenium-oral/article.htm