By Suzanne Edwards
The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia® (AHP) announced in June of 2007 that it has published a new monograph: “Feverfew Aerial Parts (Tanacetum parthenium) Standards of Analysis, Quality Control and Therapeutics.”1,2 The organization also announced the availability of an AHP-Verified Botanical Reference Standard for feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium, Asteraceae).
“Organizations around the world are struggling with ways to ensure the identity and quality of their raw materials,” said AHP Executive Director Roy Upton in an AHP press release.1 “This new standard, as well as the ones that have already been developed, helps to establish a strong foundation for quality control domestically. These are especially important since the Food and Drug Administration’s final rule regarding GMPs [Good Manufacturing Practices].”
Feverfew is a flowering plant from the daisy family that has been used medicinally for thousands of years.3 The herb is native to southeastern Europe and was once commonly used to reduce fevers and chills, hence its common name “feverfew” (a corruption of the Latin febrifugia). Residents of England’s countryside reportedly used the herb in their drinks and bound it to their wrists for this purpose during the medieval period.4 The ancients called feverfew parthenium because, according to one account, the herb was used to save the life of someone who had fallen from the Parthenon, the Doric temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, on the Acropolis in Athens.5,6 It is also possible that the Greco-Roman practice of using feverfew for treating menstrual cramps in young women may have suggested the name parthenium, as “parthenos” means “virgin” in Greek.6
The most common current use, as well as feverfew’s most clinically tested attribute, is its potential for preventing or reducing migraines.6,7 Feverfew gained considerable popularity during the 1980s as a migraine treatment, based on the results of several clinical trials conducted in Britain.8 Commercial interest in feverfew increased after a British feverfew product was granted a Drug Identification Number by Canada’s Health Protection Branch in the early 1990s.7
“This monograph gives the most complete and up-to-date assessment of the traditional and scientific data to date,” said Upton.1 “It addresses all aspects of quality control, including the clarification of issues regarding parthenolide as an appropriate marker compound or not, its safety and potential for allergic reactions, and complete methods of analysis and identification of feverfew and its adulterants.”
The monograph offers extensive photography of the botanical, macroscopic, and microscopic characteristics of feverfew aerial parts, as well as 3 graphs and 4 photos of the white light images of the high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC) of feverfew, both preparative and analytical. The text analyzes the identification, uses, and clinically tested attributes of the plant, including instruction and explanation of the various preparations that exist for feverfew.2
The feverfew monograph is the 20th monograph published by AHP since 1997. Each AHP monograph provides research standards for assuring authenticity, purity, and quality control of the monographed botanical, as well as industrial information and guidelines (extraction, processing, and storage).1
AHP-Verified Botanical Reference Standards enable quality control personnel and scientists to confirm the authenticity of botanical samples through laboratory analyses.1 They also provide botanical product manufacturers and researchers with information that may facilitate their compliance with GMPs.
The AHP feverfew monograph is available for $89.95 on the AHP Web site at www.herbal-ahp.org. The feverfew monograph is also available through the American Botanical Council’s (ABC) online store through the ABC Web site, www.herbalgram.org. Previous AHP monographs are also available through the ABC online store.
- New AHP monograph and botanical reference standards developed for feverfew [press release]. Scotts Valley, CA: American Herbal Pharmacopoeia; June 8, 2007.
- Upton R, Graff A, eds. Feverfew Aerial Parts (Tanacetum parthenium) Standards of Analysis, Quality Control and Therapeutics (L.) Schultz Bip. American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Scotts Valley, CA; 2007.
- Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). University of Washington School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine Web site. Available at: http://www.fammed.washington.edu/predoctoral/CAM/images/feverfew.pdf. Accessed July 24, 2007.
- Urban herbs: feverfew. Georgetown University Medical Center Complementary and Alternative Medicine Web site. Available at: http://www8.georgetown.edu/departments/physiology/cam/urbanherbs/feverfew.htm. Accessed July 24, 2007.
- Hobbs C. Feverfew: what did Gerard and Culpepper take when they had headaches? Christopher Hobbs Web site. Available at: http://www. christopherhobbs.com/website/library/articles/article_files/feverfew_ 01.html. Accessed August 2, 2007.
- Feverfew. In: Blumenthal M, Hall T, Goldberg A, Kunz T, Dinda K, Brinckmann J, Wollschlaeger B. The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; 2003.
- Awang, DVC. Feverfew fever: a headache for the consumer. HerbalGram. 1993;29:34.
- Tyler VE. Phytomedicines in Western Europe: their potential impact on herbal medicine in the United States. HerbalGram. 1994;30:24.