Monday, June 14, 2010


If there is one thing that regularly plagues my life, it is headaches.  These can range from tension type headaches that seem to never go away to migraines that cause me to spend a few unpleasant hours laying on a cold bathroom floor, trying to make them stop.  While I have tried both over-the-counter and prescription medications, I'm not happy with the potential side effects of some of the more common migraine pharmaceuticals.

I have read for years about the potential headache-busting effects of feverfew, and it has always been on my list of things to try.  This year, I ordered some up from Richters, and I have it growing in my new front herb bed.

Wikipedia gives a nice summary of the potential benefits of feverfew, including:  "It has been used for reducing fever, for treating headaches, arthritis and digestive problems. It is hypothesized that by inhibiting the release of serotonin and prostaglandins, both of which are believed to aid the onset of migraines, feverfew limits the inflammation of blood vessels in the head. This would, in theory, stop the blood vessel spasm which is believed to contribute to headaches. Feverfew may also have GABAergic effects." 

Disclaimer:  I am not a physician.  This is not medical advice.  I elected to experiment on myself after research that goes deeper than Wikipedia, plus the reports of others.  Don't try any herbal medication along with a prescription or OTC medication, and be sure to tell your doctor so that he/she can take them into account.

OK, so disclaimer done, let me say that feverfew ROCKS!  I don't know whether the plant is helping, or if it is a placebo effect, but I have had precisely one headache of any duration in the past three weeks.  This is, um, really uncommon for me.  I have also noticed the effect that was mentioned on the plant tag that feverfew can produce a sense of well-being.  It is subtle, but I occasionally feel simply terrific.  Of course, who wouldn't without a headache.

Herbal medications have a lot to recommend them.  We tend to distrust them because of our reliance on other pharmaceuticals, but herbal medications have been a staple of human life for millennia.  While there are many, many occasions that call for a visit to the doctor and pharmacy, I think -- for me  -- it is worthwhile to experiment cautiously with more natural solutions to health issues.  If you do, do so after doing your own research, and do so cautiously.

For those of you who decide to join me in nibbling the landscaping, I have been eating about an inch worth of feverfew leaf every day.  The plant tag suggested one could eat one to four leaves, and I'm staying cautious at the moment. 

The Analysis

Fast:  It takes very little time to nibble a leaf as I get the mail.

Cheap:  I thought this would be a money-loser, but if feverfew continues to help, I'll get the plant price back in ibuprofen savings alone.

Good:  A day without a headache is sustainable living at its best.
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