August 2013

Review Evaluates Feverfew For Migraine Prevention

Feverfew has been studied for possible benefit in preventing migraine headaches, with a lack of strong evidence to support its use, a study reports.

A migraine is not just headache pain. Migraine is thought to be a genetic neurological disease characterized by flare-ups often called "migraine attacks" or "migraine episodes." A headache can be one symptom of a migraine attack. Some people with migraine disease often have migraine attacks without having a headache. People suffering from migraines tend to have recurring attacks triggered by a lack of food or sleep, certain food allergies, exposure to light, or hormonal changes in women, including puberty, menopause, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Anxiety, stress, or relaxation after stress can also be triggers. Exposure to a trigger does not always lead to a headache. Conversely, avoidance of triggers cannot completely prevent headaches. Different migraine sufferers respond to different triggers, and any one trigger will not induce a headache in every person who has migraine headaches.

Feverfew is an herb that has been used traditionally for fevers, as its name denotes, although this effect has not been well studied. Feverfew is most commonly taken by mouth for the prevention of migraine headache.

In the current study, researchers conducted a review of trials looking at the use of feverfew extract for treating migraines. They included five trials in their review that included a total of 343 people.

The authors found that results from these trials were conflicting. The findings did not suggest strong support for the use of feverfew as a convincing preventive therapy for migraine headaches. The trials reported only mild side effects as a result of using feverfew for this purpose.

The researchers concluded that their review suggests a lack of evidence in support of using feverfew to prevent migraine headache. More information is needed to better understand the possible effects of this herb for this purpose.

Currently, there is good scientific evidence in support of the use of butterbur, caffeine, and peppermint for the treatment of migraine headaches.

For more information about feverfew, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 
  2. Pittler MH, Ernst E. Feverfew for preventing migraine. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD002286. 

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2024 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.