Tanacetum parthenium

scientific name: 
Tanacetum parthenium (L.) Sch. Bip.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Perennial and suffruticose herb, aromatic, up to 1 m high.  Leaves ovate to oblong-ovate, ca. 12 cm long, lower ones pinnate and pinnatisect, upper ones broadly pinnati-divided; segments 2 to 3 pairs, dentate, obtuse.  Small heads numerous, up to 2 cm in diameter; disc yellow; flowers radiate, white.



stomach pain:

  leaf, infusion, orally2


  leaf, infusion, orally1

This plant is used as aperitif19.

For stomach pain and colic:

Add 250 mL of boiling water to 3 grams of leaf and fresh flowers.  Cover pot, leave to settle for 5-10 minutes and filter.  Drink 1 cup 3 times a day21.

Any medicinal preparation must be preserved cold and used within the 24 hours.

The herb is not good-tasting and has some adverse effects.  The recommendation is to take only occasionally, using standardized products4.

According to published and other information:

Uses for colic and stomach pain are classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)3 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should symptoms persist for more than 3 days, seek medical attention.

Due to the risks of interaction with anticoagulants, the leaf decoction should not be ingested by patients treated with anticoagulants4.

Not for use by pregnant women as it may cause abortion.  Not for use during lactation, or by children under 5 years old.

The hematology test of more than 60 users of the plant, some of whom had used it for more than 1 year, did not show significant differences when compared to controls17.

The dried aerial parts in flowering may cause dermatitis18 or blisters on the lips and soft palate19.

The species causes abortion in cattle, modifies menstrual cycle and flow, and induces uterine contractions in term pregnant women20.

There is no available information documenting the toxicity of medicinal use for children or for lactating women.

The leaf contains flavonoids : apigenin glucoronides; luteolin and chrysoeriol, cynaroside, campherol and quercetagetin derivatives5; sesquiterpenes : artecanin, (±)artemorin, canin, 3ß-costunolide, parthenolide, 3-ß-hydroxy-parthenolide6-7, chrysanthemine A and B8, seco-tanaparthin B, seco-tanapartholide A9, anaparthin α and ß-peroxide6,9 and an essential oil whose main constituents are camphor (20%), germacrene D, trans-chrysanthemol acetate, camphene10.

The leaf and the stem contain coumarins: eleutheroside B11.

A chloroformic extract from the dried and fresh plant (200 µg/mL) induced a spasmolytic response on rabbit aorta7.

The aqueous extract from the leaf inhibits platelet aggregation, by interference with the release of arachidonic acid of membrane phospholipids12.  The chloroformic extract from the leaf inhibited platelet aggregation in vitro in human and animal platelet cultures (10, 12.5 y 25 mg/mL)12-14.

The ethanolic extract from the aerial parts (5 mg/mL)in vitro was active against Sarcina lutea and Staphylococcus aureus, but not against Escherichia coli15.  The alcoholic maceration assayed with five enterobacteria was only active against Salmonella enterii16.


1 LONGUEFOSSE JL, NOSSIN E, 1990-95 Enquête TRAMIL. Association pour la valorisation des plantes médicinales de la Caraïbe AVPMC, Fort de France, Martinique.

2 GIRON L, 1988 Encuesta TRAMIL (Costa atlántica). Centro Mesoamericano de Tecnología CEMAT, Guatemala, Guatemala.

3 WHO, 1991 Guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines. WHO/TRM/91.4. Programme on Traditional Medicines, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

4 ALONSO JR, 1998 Tratado de fitomedicina. Bases clínicas y farmacológicas. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Ed. ISIS S.R.L. p910.

5 WILLIAMS CA, HOULT JRS, HARBORNE JB, GREENHAM J, EAGLES J, 1995 A biologically active lipophilic flavonol from Tanacetum parthenium. Phytochemistry 38(1):267-270.

6 DOLMAN DM, KNIGHT DW, SALAN U, TOPLIS D, 1992 A quantitative method for the estimation of parthenolide and other sesquiterpene lactones containing alpha- methylene-butyrolactone functions present in feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium. Phytochem Anal 3(1):26-31.

7 BARSBY RW, SALAN U, KNIGHT DW, HOULT JR, 1993 Feverfew and vascular smooth muscle: extracts from fresh and dried plants show opposing pharmacological profiles, dependent upon sesquiterpene lactone content. Planta Med 59(1):20-25.

8 WAGNER H, FESSLER B, LOTTER H, WRAY V, 1988 New chlorine-containing sesquiterpene lactones from Chrysanthemum parthenium. Planta Med 54(2):171-172.

9 BEGLEY MJ, HEWLETT MJ, KNIGHT D, 1989 Revised structures for guaianolide alpha-methylenebutyrolactones from feverfew. Phytochemistry 28(3):940-943.

10 SCHULTZ BI, BANTHORPE DV, BROWN GD, JANES JF, MARR IM, 1990 Parthenolide and other volatiles in the flowerheads of Tanacetum parthenium (L.). Flavour Fragrance J 5:183-186.

11 PLOUVIER V, 1985 Occurrence and distribution of syringoside, calycanthoside and similar coumarinic glycosides in several botanical groups. CR Acad Sci Ser III 301(4):117-120.

12 LOESCHE W, GROENEWEGEN WA, KRAUSE S, SPANGENBERG P, HEPTINSTALL S, 1988 Effects of an extract of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) on arachidonic acid metabolism in human blood platelets. Biomed Biochim Acta 47(10-11):S241-S243

13 HEPTINSTALL S, GROENEWEGEN WA, SPANGENBERG P, LOSCHE W, 1988 Inhibition of platelet behaviour by feverfew: A mechanism of action involving sulphydryl groups. Folia Haematol (Leipzig) 115(4):447-449.

14 GROENEWEGEN WA HEPTINSTALL S, 1990 A comparison of the effects of an extract of feverfew and parthenolide, a component of feverfew, on human platelet activity in vitro. J Pharm Pharmacol 42(8):553-557.

15 BHAKUNI DS, BITTNER M, MARTICORENA C, SILVA M, WELDT E, MELO ME, ZEMELMAN R, 1974 Screening of Chilean plants for antimicrobial activity. Llyodia 37(4):621-632.

16 CACERES A, SAMAYOA B, 1989 Tamizaje de la actividad antibacteriana de plantas usadas en Guatemala para el tratamiento de afecciones gastrointestinales. Guatemala: Dirección General de Investigaciones, Univers. San Carlos (DIGI-USAC).

17 BALDWIN CA, ANDERSON LA, PHILLIPSON JD, 1987 What pharmacists should know about feverfew. Pharm J 239:237-238.

18 ANON, 1994 Fitoterapia. Vademecum de prescripción de plantas medicinales. Asociación Española de Médicos Naturistas y Colegio Oficial de farmacéuticos de Vizcaya. Tanacetum parthenium 2da. Ed. España: CITA Publicaciones y Documentaciones. p231-232.

19 ANON, 1996 British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Tanacetum parthenium.4th ed. Bournemouth, Great Britain: British Herbal Medicine Association. p81-82.

20 Newall C, Anderson L, PhillIpson D, 1996 Herbal medicines: A guide for health care professionals. The Pharmaceutical Press, London, England. p121.

21 GIRON L, CACERES A, FREIRE V, ALONZO A, SALVADOR L, 1995 Folleto informativo sobre algunas plantas comúnmente utilizadas por la población Garífuna de Livingston, Guatemala, Guatemala, p13.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.