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Rosacea Series: Feverfew Soothes Inflamed Skin - Printable Version

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Rosacea Series: Feverfew Soothes Inflamed Skin - James - 07-04-2012 04:42 AM

Rosacea Series: Feverfew Soothes Inflamed Skin

by Jeanette Jacknin, M.D.

Feverfew, also known as Tanaceta parthenium or Chrysanthemum parthenium, is related to soothing chamomile, sunflower and chrysanthemum. References to the plant were found in the works of ancient Greek physicians.1 The plant grows into a small bush 9 to 24 inches in height with citrus-scented leaves and profusely blooming small, white, daisy-like flowers. This attractive plant will grow almost anywhere; it will re-seed itself and is considered a perennial in most planting zones, becoming almost like an invasive weed.2 Feverfew was native to the Balkan Peninsula, Anatolia and the Caucasus, but it is now also found in Europe, the Mediterranean, North America and Chile.3 It is a traditional medicinal herb that is now found in many old European gardens. Leaves are the portion of the plant used for medicinal purposes.4 The active ingredients in feverfew include parthenolide and tanetin.

The word "feverfew" is from the Latin "fever reducer." It has been used for reducing fever and for treating headaches, migraines, arthritis and digestive problems, among others.5 It is thought that by inhibiting the release of serotonin and prostaglandins, feverfew limits the inflammation of blood vessels in the head. This would, in theory, help to stop the blood vessel spasm, which is believed to contribute to headaches. Studies show it may also lessen the frequency of headaches and migraines with regular usage. This plant has shown it has anti-inflammatory properties that may be more effective than aspirin. Unfortunately, feverfew doesn't seem to be of any help once a migraine has manifested. Its greatest benefit is through regular, preventative use.6 The active elements contained in feverfew decrease the release of polymorphonuclear leukocytes in joints, thereby decreasing the local inflammation and arthritis. Feverfew also inhibits 5-lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, resulting in a reduction in human blood platelet aggregation, which is important in decreasing the incidence of stroke and vascular events.7 The feverfew plant has also been used to lower blood pressure.8 Numerous studies has proven feverfew’s efficacy in handling such conditions as dysmenorrhea, sluggish menstrual flow, coughs, wheezing and difficult breathing, and pain and swelling caused by bites of insects and vermin. Digestive problems and decreased appetite also treated with feverfew.9

Feverfew has been studied in vitro and in vivo and found to be very effective in the control of rosacea. Dermatologist Jessica Wu, M.D., wrote in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology feverfew reduces inflammation, minimizes sunburn-induced redness and protects against free radicals.10 Feverfew has been used by the Aveeno skincare brand to calm red and irritated skin with their Active Naturals Feverfew Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15, Ultra-Calming Moisturizing Cream and Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser.11 In addition to providing antioxidant activity, it calms and soothes compromised and assaulted skin. Feverfew is proven to reduce redness and irritation caused by internal and external aggressions.12 In Aveeno’s published studies, feverfew parthenolide-free extract (PFE) outperformed other antioxidants by a long shot, faring 35 times better than the closest runner-up.

In a recent study Aveeno’s Johnson and Johnson Skin Research Center, 45 days of treatment with 1 percent feverfew PFE—Aveeno Daily Moisturizer Ultracalming—improved mild inflammatory rosacea by inhibiting the release of inflammatory markers from activated lymphocytes and reducing neutrophil chemotaxis.13 It is these immunomodulating properties that suggest feverfew PFE may be a useful treatment for rosacea. Because parthenolide is a potent skin sensitizer, Johnson &Johnson developed a PFE of feverfew. PFE-feverfew directly inhibited the activity of the pro-inflammatory enzymes 5-lipoxygenase, phosphodiesterase-3 and phosphodiesterase-4 and inhibited the release of the pro-inflammatory mediators nitric oxide, PGE(2) and TNF-alpha from macrophages, and TNF-alpha, IL-2, IFN-gamma and IL-4 from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Additionally, PFE-feverfew inhibited release of PGE(2) from human skin equivalents, and in vivo, inhibited dermatitis. The efficacy of PFE-feverfew was also confirmed clinically by a reduction in erythema in a vasodilatation model.

Feverfew has been used for more than just rosacea, including skin cancer prevention.14 For daily skin care, ingredients such as feverfew are good choices for gentle cleansing and moisturizing of dry, sensitive skin, whether Caucasian skin or skin of color.15

Avoid feverfew if you are pregnant or nursing. Do not use on children younger than 2 years of age. There are also case reports that topical creams containing feverfew may cause allergic contact dermatitis. And feverfew should also be avoided if an allergy to chamomile, yarrow or ragweed is present because feverfew is similar to these plants and will probably result in an allergic reaction also.16

Feverfew, the “fever reducer", works beneficially on skin as an anti-inflammatory against rosacea and other skin inflammatory conditions.