Friday, January 6, 2017

Feverfew, Plants to Pills

Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium
When the sun finally peeped out from behind the clouds for a few minutes in the late afternoon last week, we slipped out for a short walk.  Between the yet to be raked leaves, we noticed the feverfew plants still growing. They had been ignored since I thought they would be dormant for winter by now.  In the early fall, all were harvested for their precious healing leaves and then left to hibernate.  But just as my children refused to sleep when put to bed, so have these plants refused to rest.  We rushed to harvest all we could before the sun went down and the rains began.

Feverfew has so many useful benefits that I have planted a great deal.  The healing properties include help with: headaches, fevers, stomach irritations, arthritis, migraines, high blood pressure and especially tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  Bill has loud ringing and we are desperate for a cure.  Last year he began taking some every day along with another herb I was growing, Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera.  Sadly, his ears have not improved but strangely his vision has???  He noticed the improvement while driving.  He is nearsighted and needs glasses for driving.  He discovered he could read the distant signs better without his glasses.  Now he carries his eyeglasses in the car in case he gets pulled over by the police; his license says he must drive with his glasses.  We asked our family doctor what was happening and he just shrugged.  We don't know if it is the feverfew, Ashwagandha or both together, but something is working.

Feverfew bed
My brother has horrible migraines that force him to bed for days.  One day he mentioned they were getting worse so I suggested feverfew.  The pills need to be taken weeks in advance to give your body time to heal.  He began taking three pills twice a day and after about two weeks the pain symptoms began again.  He just waited and for the first time, they slowly subsided.  He decided he was onto something and continued taking the pills. The migraines have never returned.  

He has shared his story with other friends who experienced the same problem.  One day when he entered his bank, a teller (also a church friend) asked him for prayers for her daughter.  She was in the hospital with a severe, recurring migraine and the doctors could do nothing more to help.  My brother suggested feverfew and told her his story.  A few months later, he returned to the bank where the teller rushed out to grab and hug him. She said her daughter's headache had been cured by the feverfew! 

I am NOT a doctor and do not know what I am doing.  I have no training at all in medicine.  God made plants to feed and heal us so I am searching for anything to help my family.  Feverfew has been a success for us and I am sharing it with you.  

Since I wanted to save every leaf, we cut each plant down as close to the ground as possible but left enough so as not to kill it.  Come spring, it will begin rapidly growing and reach about three feet in height...if I can keep from harvesting each sprouting leaf.

Plants after harvest
We rinsed the leaves and picked out any sticks or debris.  You can drink it as a tea but I find the flavor unpleasant.  I would rather put it into capsules and avoid the taste.

Fresh clean, pure feverfew. 
We piled it high on the dehydrator but because the leaves were so thin, it only took about 4 hours to dry.

Next, we put the dried leaves into a coffee grinder to grind.

It only takes about 30 seconds to grind it into a fine powder.

The total amount of this harvest was about 3/4 of a cup which weighed 3 oz.

The capsule filler we use is the Capsule Machine (a hand press) which we purchased off Amazon a few years ago.  Today I checked their price and it was $37.39 for A SMALL PIECE OF PLASTIC!  I don't remember what I paid but it was not that much!  Each press will fill only one size capsule so if you want to make different sizes, you must buy another.  

The baggie in the picture below is labeled Andrographis which is another herb I grow and had harvested earlier. If you are going to make a mess, you might as well make a big mess and produce a bunch of pills. Be sure to put everything onto a large pan because you will spill it everywhere, then can scoop up any overflow and reuse it.

We use size 0 capsules.  They come in all sizes but this was the biggest size I could swallow without choking. They were also purchased on Amazon a few years ago and I can't remember what I paid.  I do remember waiting until they were on sale really cheap and then purchased enough to last a lifetime. Today on Amazon, I found 1,000 for $8.79 so 8/1000 = $0.008;  I know I paid way less, but for math, I am rounding up and saying each capsule costs $.01.  I will pay a penny to keep from tasting it.

After you separate the capsules, the larger size goes in the base holder which holds 24 capsules.

The smaller part of the capsule goes into the top.

Push the capsules down so that they are flush with the base and top surface.

Pour the powder onto the base.

Rake it with the enclosed card until it is flush.  The extra will be raked out through the slot in the bottom right corner of the pill holder into the tray.

Take the tamper and compress the powder down tight into the capsules.

This has been tamped down.

Add more powder and repeat.  It usually takes three times to fill it as full as possible.

After it is as full as possible, take the top part of the pill holder and place it on top of the base section. Press.

It will push the top and bottom capsules together.  They are assembled but you will need to press each one so they snap closed. Then pop them out of the pill holder.

Success!  24 capsules.

The 3/4 cup of feverfew powder made 60 capsules.  

It is tedious putting each pill into each hole but it takes no more than 4 minutes to do one set of 24. This is obviously something you will do while watching a good movie.  The clean up afterward is also time-consuming since the powder spills everywhere.

For comparison, I chose the cheapest feverfew on Amazon and it was $8.90 for 180 capsules of 380 mg each. So 180 capsules times 380 mg means there is only 2.4 oz total of feverfew in that one bottle.  Their pills must have been a smaller size which made the bottle large, but the feverfew lacking.

We had 3/4 of a cup of feverfew which weighed 3 oz and made 60 capsules.  At the most, we had $.60 invested in making them, not counting the original investment of the press.  Our expense was our time: planting, harvesting, drying and filling capsules.  I don't know how much time that was.

It is hard to compare apples to oranges but I will try.  The advantage of purchasing the pills is convenience.  If you don't have much free time, this is the way to go.  The advantages of making your own are:  fresher more potent herbs, the confidence they are the herbs you want (not weed leaves) and almost no expense.  This is the way we have chosen.  We value knowing the herbs are the best we can get, plus over time we are using more and more as we continue to discover what works for us.


  1. How interesting! This is the first time I've heard of feverfew and its health benefits. Thanks for sharing, Jeannie!

    1. Margie, welcome! Here you are in good company. I too, am a teaholic. This past year I have been one of those secret clicks you wonder about, a person who never posts. Perhaps now that my secret is out, I should share my love of teas. Am I that brave????

  2. I used to have migraines, too. The only thing that helped me was going through menopause. They haven't been back in years and i am so thankful! I tried the tea, yes, it's gross! My son still gets migraines occasionally; i'll have to mention this to him. He tried the tea with me all those years ago; i didn't even think about pills! Duh!! I bought a machine like yours for about 22.00 about two months ago. I got 1000 capsules for 11.00. I filled mine with turmeric; love it! Thank you for this post! I found you through the prudent homemaker.

    1. Welcome Momsav! I have turmeric ready and waiting for me to put into pills also. Hopefully, it will help me with arthritis. Right now I am taking cod liver oil (major yuck) to see if it will help first. I have learned to try one new thing at a time so I will know what works. When I can finally find what does cure on me, I will be DANCING! Something will work, I just have to find it.

      Let me know later if your son has any success with the feverfew. I hope it works for him.

  3. Hello! Like Momsav, I've come over from Prudent Homemaker. I am fascinated by this post. I never would have thought that you could make your own capsules, from your own herbs. Don't know why that never occurred to me. I'm also amazed that you can find and buy the items you need off Amazon. They truly do have everything! My cousin, who has bad migraines, has been helped by feverfew too. Thank you for this very interesting post!

    1. Lynn, welcome. I love reading Brandi's blog and have learned so much from her postings. Many times it is the simplest things that make all the difference, or it is the "Why didn't I think of that?" thoughts that are the best.

      We have had success with feverfew and if I can help just one person fighting an illness, it would be worth the effort. Maybe it will help, and maybe it won't. Who knows? But if it does help cure someone's migraines, it is worth everything to them.