Feverfew is an herb that originated in the Balkans and that belongs to the same family (Asteraceae) as the daisy, which also includes other herbs like dandelions and chamomile.
In Ancient Greece, Feverfew was called parthenion and used it to treat problems related to menstruation and childbirth. The story is that someone fell from the Parthenon as it was being constructed in 447 BCE, and the herb was used to save their life. A few centuries later, Pedanius Dioscorides recommended feverfew for treating inflammations.
Throughout history, one of feverfew’s primary uses was for easing difficulties with menstruation and other ailments that women might endure. The 17th-century naturalist Nicholas Culpeper wrote of feverfew, describing the herb as being able to strengthen the womb. Another English herbalist from this era — John Parkinson — would state that feverfew was effective for treating headaches.
In Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine, feverfew is said to act as a diuretic and ease stomach ailments in addition to helping with insomnia. King’s Dispensatory made similar claims that feverfew was good for digestion along with colds, irregular menstruation and hysteria.
The name has fever in it, which is somewhat misleading since the herb is not actually used to treat fevers. Feverfew is a corrupted version of featherfoil, which would eventually become featherfew — a name sometimes used for the plant. Featherfew eventually evolved to feverfew. The incorrect name would lead to some herbalists believing that the plant was able to treat fevers. Because it did not work, it was at one point dismissed as being ineffective.