Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

The efficacy and safety of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): an update of a systematic review*

E Ernsta1 c1 and MH Pittlera1

a1 Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT, UK

Abstract

Objective Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.) is a popular herbal remedy often advocated for the prevention of migraine. The aims of this systematic review are to update the evidence from rigorous clinical trials for or against the efficacy of feverfew for migraine prevention and to provide a safety profile of this herbal remedy.

Design Literature searches were performed using the following databases: Medline, Embase, Biosis, CISCOM and the Cochrane Library (all from their inception to December 1999). Only randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials of feverfew mono-preparations for the prevention of migraine in human subjects were included. All articles were read by two independent reviewers. Data were extracted in a pre-defined, standardized fashion. The methodological quality of the trials was evaluated by the Jadad score. For the assessment of safety issues, major reference texts were also consulted.

Results Six trials met the inclusion/exclusion criteria. The majority favour feverfew over placebo. Yet important caveats exist. The data also suggest that feverfew is associated with only mild and transient adverse effects and few other safety concerns.

Conclusions Feverfew is likely to be effective in the prevention of migraine. There are no major safety problems.

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: Email e.ernst@exeter.ac.uk

Footnotes

* A previous version of a similar paper was first published in 1998 (Vogler BK, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Feverfew as a preventive treatment for migraine: a systematic review. Cephalalgia 1998; 18: 704–8).

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