Researchers Identify How the Herb Feverfew May Block Inflammation

Source: VERIS Research Information Service

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BACKGROUND: The herb feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) has been used for centuries as a folk remedy for migraine headaches and fever. Some clinical studies do support its use in the prevention, though not treatment, of migraines. However, traditional medicine has resisted the use of feverfew and other herbal treatments because their mechanism(s) of action has not been clearly understood.

RESEARCH: In an experiment, researchers investigated the anti-inflammatory effects of parthenolide, the principal active chemical in feverfew. A documented anti-inflammatory effect would explain much of how feverfew works.

RESULTS: The researchers found that feverfew has clear anti-inflammatory properties. Parthenolide binds to and inhibits the activity of "IKK-beta," which blocks the activity of another protein, "nuclear factor kappa B (NFkB)." This is significant because NFkB activates many genes involved in producing inflammation.

IMPLICATIONS: This study is important because it explains, at a molecular level, how the active component in feverfew stops inflammation. Such research provides an explanation for the benefits of feverfew in preventing migraines and reducing fever.

Kwok BHB, Koh B, Ndubuisi MI, et al, "The anti-inflammatory natural product parthenolide from the medicinal herb feverfew directly binds to and inhibits IkB kinase," Chemistry & Biology, 2001;8:759-766.

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