In the depths of grey November, there are still a few flowers blooming on my block and one of them is the cheerful, omnipresent feverfew. I don't know why I haven't written about it before since it's one of the most important plants in my life: it cured me of my migraines.
Ever since I was 8 years old (when my mother took me to the doctor to see if I needed glasses because of my bad headaches--I did need glasses but that wasn't what was causing my headaches), I've suffered from migraines. I've never been as completely incapacitated like some of my friends. I've never ended up in the emergency room with a migraine. I rarely threw up. But I did during the worst migraine I ever had. It came on during a European trip with my aunt, right after a rather rocky crossing of the English Channel on a ferry. (My worst migraines almost all happened while I was traveling.) I spent the next 24 hours in a hotel room off the main square in Bruges. Every time the bells in the clock tower across the square rang the hour, I woke up, threw up and crawled back into bed.
At that point I had tried everything for my migraines. Prescription medication didn't work. Dried feverfew capsules didn't work. Sometimes two aspirins taken right at the first sign of a headache was enough to ward it off. Often it wasn't. I don't remember who first told me about feverfew, but it worked the first time. I've been using it for years and I've had very few migraines and those have been mild. I think part of the reason it works is that I now know relief is available. And I want to let everyone who suffers from migraines know that too.
It's so simple. It grows everywhere (in the Northwest, anyway). It's free. And it absolutely works. I pick three leaves (medium sized leaves, usually tender new leaves) off the nearest plant I can find whenever I get that suspicious feeling that maybe the headache I've feeling is actually a migraine. You want a plant that hasn't been sprayed so I do choose my plant carefully. I eat one leaf and it usually tastes bitter. I wait about five minutes and eat another. And after another five minutes the third. By that time, the leaf actually tastes more sweet than bitter, which indicates to me that it's working.
The biggest difficulty I have is convincing anyone to try it. The longer you've suffered from the agony of migraines, the more things you've tried (unsuccessfully), and the less likely you are to believe relief is possible. And I admit that belief is part of the magic for me. I believe it works and so it does. (Although I must say it has also helped many friends who I've convinced to try it). Yet when I tell people about it, I can see that look in their eyes that says "It may have cured your migraines but it will never cure mine").
If you suffer from migraines, I urge you to give it a try. Here's what you do. Find a plant. They grow wild in the Northwest. I always have one growing in my garden. I keep my eye on the plants in my neighborhood. The plant in the top photo shows the cheerful white daisy-like flowers, besides a feverfew that has no flowers but the characteristic leafy foliage. It smells rather tangy. It tastes bitter. This photograph shows another feverfew growing in the parkway. They can grow to about three feet tall.