Been nursing Elektra my daughter for a few days as she is suffering from a nasty cough virus. Got a little cabin fever myself and escaped for a walk around my village this morning. It is beautifully sunny and I harvested a load of feverfew which is miraculously still in full flower this December mornings.
As I picked the leafy plant my fingers got quite sticky with the resins and the pungent smell from this resin was very heady. It struck me have much of this bushy plant there was all about our local community garden it felt very abundant and giving in its nature, I imagined that if the plant was a human they would be someone who run a bakery and was always baking and giving away delicious cakes and loaves….The leaves taste a little like eating perfume so high in volitile or essential oils so an indication on their anti microbial qualities.
The plants name Feverfew is actually a corruption of the word Febrifuge, from its tonic and fever-dispelling properties. Since the time of Ancient Greece and probably before, physicians and ‘ol wives have used it to reduce inflammation, treat headaches, fevers, coughs and menstrual cramps.
It is a member of the daisy or asteraceae/compositae family and its Latin name is Tanacetum parthenium. The name parthenium is from the Greek meaning "girl" and alludes to its traditional use for female complaints.
It's now famed in its use to prevent migraine headaches, especially the ones that are relieved by warmth applications to the head, some say a fresh leaf eaten daily will prevent further migraines and several scientific studies have tried to explain it exact mechanism of action effective.
Researchers have postulated a substance called parthenolide, which helps relieve spasms in smooth muscle tissue, was what made feverfew effective against migraines. Parthenolide may also reduce inflammation and may stop cancer cells from growing.
'Part of the herb's action appears to be via an inhibition of secretion of the granular contents from platelets and neutrophils in the blood. This may be relevant to the therapeutic value of Feverfew in migraine and other conditions such as osteo-arthritis. Pharmacologists say that it is very likely that the sesquiterpenelactones inhibit prostaglandins and histamine released during the inflammatory process, so preventing spasms of the blood vessels in the head that trigger migraine attacks.'
Feverfew has blood thinning qualities and should not be used by anyone who is taking blood thinners or who is planning to undergo surgery.
What a wonderfully useful herb. I am going to make a tea sweetened with honey for Elektra's fever and cough.