The Herb Feverfew May Reduce Frequency of Migraine Headaches

BACKGROUND: Few medical treatments effectively prevent migraine headaches without undesirable side effects. The herb feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) has a long history of use in the prevention of migraine headaches, and some clinical trials have been published showing its benefits.

RESEARCH: Researchers treated 147 patients with migraine headaches, with either a feverfew extract (2.08 mg, 6.25 mg, or 18.75 mg), or a placebo, three times daily for 12 weeks. The researchers compared the number of migraines that patients experienced at baseline before supplementation with the number of migraine attacks during the last 28 days of treatment.

RESULTS: Overall there was no significant difference between the patients treated with feverfew and those given the placebo. In a small subgroup of patients (n=49) receiving 6.25 mg of feverfew three times daily, the occurrence of migraine headaches was decreased by almost 38 percent compared to placebo. These patients had at least 4 migraines during baseline and were considered the most likely to benefit from the herb. Feverfew did not have a significant effect on patients with less frequent migraine headaches.

IMPLICATIONS: This study suggests that the use of feverfew to reduce the number of migraine headaches may be beneficial in a small subgroup of patients.

Pfaffenrath V, Diener HC, Fischer M, et al, "The efficacy and safety of Tanacetum parthenium (feverfew) in migraine prophylaxis - a double-blind, multicentre, randomized placebo-controlled dose-response study," Cephalalgia, 2002;22:523-532.

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