Feverfew, or Tanacetum parthenium, has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. It is a member of the sunflower family, and the name “feverfew” comes from the Latin word for fever reducer. This plant is used to treat fevers, headaches, arthritis, stomach problems and other health issues. Many people benefit from this natural medicine, but there are several known side effects from it. The most common feverfew side effects include abdominal issues, mouth irritation and pregnancy complications.
The feverfew plant is native to southeastern Europe, and it has been used there for centuries as an herbal remedy. It is a short perennial with small, daisy-like flowers and yellow-green leaves. Feverfew is easily recognized by its strong bitter odor. Most feverfew products are comprised of its dried plant leaves as well as other parts of the plant. The feverfew plant contains parthenolide, which is an active compound that prevents the constriction of blood vessels and relieves muscle spasms.
The most common feverfew side effects affect the stomach. Some examples of this include abdominal pain, heartburn, flatulence, indigestion and nervousness, which some people might call "butterflies in the stomach." Other side effects are constipation, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Many people report having bleeding disorders when taking this herb. People who have preexisting conditions with stomach ulcers should avoid taking feverfew.
Mouth irritation issues also are types of feverfew side effects. These types of problems might include mouth ulcers and loss of taste. People who chew raw feverfew leaves have reported swelling of the mouth, tongue and lips. Allergic reactions might occur with feverfew, especially in people who are allergic to chamomile, yarrow and ragweed.
Pregnant and nursing women should avoid taking this herb, because there are many cases of feverfew side effects in this group. Some examples of these types of serious side effects include pregnancy contractions, risk of birth defects and even miscarriage. Feverfew also might cause complications in the menstrual cycle.
Feverfew side effects can affect people even after the discontinue using the herb, if they have used it for a long time. This type of symptoms include migraine headaches, insomnia and anxiety. Muscle stiffness and gastrointestinal symptoms also can occur after discontinuing the use of feverfew.
Although feverfew can treat health ailments naturally, there are many risks involved. For example, some ingredients in feverfew capsules can degrade when exposed to higher room temperatures. The herb alone might not affect a person, but taking other medications that interact with feverfew can cause negative side effects. Anyone considering this type of herbal treatment should speak with a medical professional before starting it.