Feverfew

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Background

Feverfew is native to southern Europe but now grows freely throughout north America, Europe and Australia, It is a member of the chrysanthemum family. In ancient times it was used to drive down fevers, to encourage menstruation and to strengthen uterine contractions ( to speed up labor) during birth.  Today it has expanded uses

Medicinal Value

The leaves of feverfew contain a compound called parthenolide; thought to be useful for mitigating and lessening the frequency of attacks of migraine headaches. It seems to work by reducing blood platelet activity and the release of certain chemicals that contribute to the sudden widening of blood vessels in the head. It also seems to balance serotonin levels ( imbalance being a factor in predisposition toward migraines).  It should be noted that feverfew is more effective a a deterrent to migraine attacks than as an in the moment cure. Although bitter, the recommendation is to eat no more than a few leaves daily to stave off potential migraines. Feverfew also appears to have an analgesic and anti rheumatic effect making it worth considering for treating arthritis and joint pain. There are other, less common uses for this versatile herb as well.  

Ornamental Value

Feverfew is a long blooming but short lived perennial that produces miniature daisy like blooms in double and single forms. It grows about 2’ high and has dark green, deeply cut leaves.  Often, when cut back after initial bloom, it will bloom again 2 months later. It readily self seeds if (some) flowers are left to dry on the plants; once you have it you won’t be without it. 

Cultivation

When starting indoors in spring, small groupings of seeds should be covered with a very thin layer of soil and kept moist. Transplant once first true leaves are developed. Give each plant around 8-12″ of space once started and thin as needed.

Harvest & Keeping

Throughout the growing season nibble a few leaves daily. To preserve, Cut the flowers and enjoy them in bouquets. Reserve the leaves and dry them at a lowest temperature in the oven or at 110 degrees in a dehydrator.  Store in dark glass jars and make mild cup of tea ( leaves are bitter!) as desired from the dried leaves.

Precautions

May have a blood thinning effect; use w/ caution if you take blood thinners. Pregnant women should not ingest

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