A member of the daisy family, feverfew, is a small, flowering plant native to the southeatern regions of Europe. Historically, holistic healers have turned to feverfew as a treatment for arthritis, fever, stomachache, headache, respiratory infections ans asthma. Today, feverfew is used in modern integrative medicine and in naturopathy to treat migraine headaches.
Feverfew appears to be safe for nursing mothers, but some health care providers still advise against it because there is not enough solid scientific evidence of its safety. Consult your health care provider before using feverfew if you are breastfeeding a child.
Uses for Nursing Moms
Tension headaches and migraines are common among women with young children. Postpartum hormone crashes, sleep deprivation, general stress and poor nutrition can all contribute to the development of severe headaches. Some nursing mothers may be interested in using feverfew as a holistic alternative to conventional drugs for treating migraines.
What the Science Says
Current scientific evidence, although limited, suggests that feverfew is safe for nursing mothers. According to lactation consultant Kelly Bonyata, several small-scale clinical trials have found that feverfew has no effect on a nursing baby. This is very encouraging, since conventional migraine treatments, such as narcotics, are known to be very dangerous to breastfed babies.
Despite its overall evidence of safety, most mainstream health care providers still view breastfeeding as a contraindication for the use of feverfew. No large-scale clinical trials have investigated its long-term effects on a breastfeeding child, so evidence of its safety is still fairly limited. Additionally, some poorly made feverfew supplements may contain trace amounts of toxic materials, which could theoretically cross into breast milk.
The Bottom Line
Although feverfew may be safe for some nursing moms and their infants, it should be viewed only as a last-resort alternative when pain is intolerable and safer treatments have failed. Feverfew is almost certainly safer than harsh prescription drugs, and the risks of formula-feeding outweigh the theoretical risks of feverfew supplementation. Use feverfew only under your health care provider’s guidance, since there is still fairly little evidence of its overall long-term safety.
University of Maryland Medical Center: Feverfew