Chemical Components

The leaves and flowering tops contain many monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes as well as sesquiterpenes lactones (chrysanthemolide, chrysanthemonin, 10-epi-canin, magnoliolide and parthenolide), reynosin, santamarin, tanaparthins and other compounds. Until recently, the sesquiterpene lactone parthenolide was thought to be the major biologically active constituent. However, in vitro and in vivo research suggests others are also present (Brown et al 1997, Pugh & Sambo 1988).

Clinical note - Natural variations in parthenolide content

The amount of parthenolide present in commercial preparations of feverfew leaves varies significantly, with some exhibiting levels as high as 1,7% dry weight and others as low as 0.01% to non-detectable (Cutlan et al 2000). The study by Cutlan et al measured the parthenolide content in plants produced from seeds taken from over 30 different sources and germinated under identical conditions. According to this study, feverfew collected from the wild and distributed by botanical gardens or US Department of Agriculture seed banks yielded plants with the highest mean parthenolide value, and plants with yellow leaves also had significantly higher parthenolide levels than those with green leaves.

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