Feverfew extract contains tannins, sesquiterpenoids and flavonoids. There is growing evidence that it may be beneficial as a topical treatment for skin conditions such as atopic eczema and allergic contact dermatitis. Its activity for these conditions appears comparable to weak topical steroids. In one study, skin that was treated with feverfew lotion before being exposed to UVB rays showed much less redness than skin with a placebo lotion. Specifically, participants received either Feverfew PFE lotion or a placebo lotion on their backs. Then, participants were exposed to small amounts of UVB rays to induce sunburn. Researchers measured redness after 24 and 48 hours. (Jessica Wu, M.D., The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology)
One study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, showed that “Feverfew PFE proved to be the most effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant among 2,000 other botanicals ranging from aloe vera to white tea,” writes Ning Chao in Elle. Feverfew PFE outperformed other antioxidants by a long shot, faring 35 times better than the closest runner-up.
Feverfew contains several biologically active components that have beneficial anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. It appears to inhibit a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines and impairs prostaglandin production as well as the action of neutrophils. These actions help reduce inflammation and are helpful for inflammatory and auto-immune conditions.
One study examined feverfew’s effects on shaving irritation. For two weeks, participants used Feverfew PFE on one leg twice a day and a placebo lotion on the other leg. They shaved two or three times weekly. The result? Feverfew PFE worked much better than placebo lotion at reducing irritation.
Parthenolide (a component of feverfew) is a potent cause of contact allergic dermatitis in some people, and can arise when used topically (on the skin). Parthenolide is one of the main causes of compositae allergy.
Products that exclude parthenolide are widely available and often referred to as ‘Purified Feverfew Extract’ or Feverfew PFE. These purified products do not appear to cause significant skin sensitisation.
Avoid if you’re allergic to chamomile, yarrow or ragweed, because feverfew is similar to these plants and will probably result in an allergic reaction, too. An interesting report on Patch test reactivity to feverfew-containing creams in feverfew-allergic patients can be read here.
« Back to Dictionary Home