Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Feverfew Cures Migraines

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.


wil said...

Thankfully, I don't suffer from migraines -- but I've always believed that form and preparation matters when it comes to food, medicine, etc.

It's great that you didn't completely write off feverfew having tried the dried variety.

boinky said...

As a doc, I am puzzled why this herb "dropped out of sight", even in herbal stores. Early studies showed it worked, although later studies suggested it might have been a placebo effect.

My main problem with herbal medicine is dosage problems. In Europe, herbs are regulated but they are not in the US, so even capsules might vary from one brand to another...

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

I am glad I tried the fresh feverfew because the dried stuff was not effective. I suspect the fresh stuff has more active ingredients, just as fresh culinary herbs can be used in smaller quantities than dried herbs.

It's good to hear from a Doc on the topic of herbs as medicine. It does seem that feverfew has both a placebo effect and some actual medicinal value, otherwise it wouldn't be called feverfew, although in my case, I should probably call it the migraine cure.

Suse said...

I always heard that a tea made from the leaves and flowers of feverfew was an effective headache treatment. It's good to know that nibbling the leaves fresh works too, as I'm often outdoors without my kettle handy!

Just found your lovely site and blog when googling the link between apples and Twelfth Night. (I just knitted an apple cosy and posted it on my blog on 6th January). Thanks!