September 30, 2015
Feverfew is a commonly used herb by Lyme patients. It has been used for centuries and is extremely well-known by herbalists and is widely available in commerical formulations.
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) has most traditionally been associated as a prime remedy for migraines. However, it also has a storied history of use for arthritis.
More recently, it has been shown to have significant anti-cancer effects through a direct cytotoxic mechanism. In a mouse model it was found to permanently decrease proliferation of mouse fibrosarcoma and human lymphoma cell lines.
There is also some literature to support its’ effect against proliferation of leukemia cells and some herbalists recommend it to patients who are at increased risk of developing leukemia secondary to radiation treatment.
Specific known anti-cancer actions of feverfew include inhibition of NF-kappaB activity, PTK activity, eicosanoid effects, and platelet aggregation.
The key ingredient in feverfew appears to be parthenolide, a sesquiterpene lactone molecule, an interesting class of compounds that also includes artemisinin. Feverfew also contains anticancer compounds apigenin and luteolin glycosides.
Dosing recommended by herbalists differs depending on treatment goals. Generally, doses for migraine indication are lower than those used for cancer treatment or prevention and are in the 5 mg range. Dosing for cancer requires an increased intake and likely requires a synergistic effect for best efficacy. Minimum intake for cancer is usually recommended by herbalists at 5-17 mg/day.
While generally considered a safe herbal remedy, side effects can occur and include mouth ulcers and allergic reactions amongst others. The herb should be taken only under the direct supervision of a physician.