Latin names: Achillea millefolium
Common names: Yarrow, Milfoil, Thousand leaf, Soldier’s Wound-Wort, Nosebleed plant
Parts Used: Flowers and leaves; essential oil
Constituents: Volatile oil (α- and β-pinene, borneol, bornyl acetate, camphor, α-caryophyllene, 1,8, cineole); sesquiterpene lactones (achillicin, achillin, achillifolin, millifin, millifolide); tannins, flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, isorhamnetin, rutin); alkaloids (betonicine, stachydrine, achiceine, moschatine, trigonelline and others); phenolic acids (caffeic, salicylic); coumarins 1
Yarrow is a hardy flowering plant from the Aster family native to the Northern Hemisphere. Producing one to several stems, yarrow’s alternate leaves are largest near the bottom and middle of the stem. The flowers are arranged in flat top clusters with colours that range from light pink to white. There are approximately 31 species of yarrow. The information in this post pertains to Achillea millefolium specifically.
Yarrow has been used throughout history, mostly due to its astringent properties. Yarrow’s name (Achillea) is attributed to Greek legend about Achilles who was said to have used the plant to heal soldier’s wounds during the Trojan Wars. The use of yarrow in wartimes in is reflected in one of its common names – Soldier’s Wound-Wort.
Yarrow stalks have traditionally been used in many forms of divination. In the Chinese I Ching, an oracle would toss and then read yarrow sticks of varying lengths. It was said that Druids used yarrow stems as a method of weather prediction.
Today yarrow is used by herbalists all around the world from varying traditions and backgrounds. Many of its uses in Western herbalism stem from its long-established applications in the Native traditions of both Canada and the United States.
Antiallergenic, antibacterial, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antiulcerogenic, antiviral, aperient, appetite stimulant, astringent, bitter, carminiative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, hemostatic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, stomachic, vascular tonic, vulnerary
Due to its emmenagogue properties it is not recommended in pregnancy and lactation. Use with caution if you are taking oral contraceptives or any heart or blood pressure medications. Some cases of hypersensitivity to yarrow have been reported.1
Medicinal Uses of the Herb
- Topical conditions (cuts, bite, scrapes, stings, burns, infected wounds)
- Deeper tissues injuries (bruises, sprains, strains)
- Spider veins, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, arteriosclerosis, nose bleeds, hypertension
- Poor appetite, indigestion, cramps, spasms, anorexia, gas, bloating, ulcers
- Inflammatory conditions (colitis, diverticulitis etc.)
- Upper respiratory conditions (sinus infections, cold, hay fever, flu, fevers)
- Useful in childhood fevers however its taste is a deterrent to its use
Liver and Gall Bladder
- Congestion, inflammation, acute hepatitis
Female Reproductive System
- Amenorrhea and menorrhagia
- Cystitis, nephritis
Uses of the Essential Oil
- Hair care, hemorrhoids, scars, stretch marks, varicose veins
- Indigestion, insomnia, menstrual cramps, migraines
- AromaWeb – http://www.aromaweb.com
- Class Notes – Living Earth School
- Earthwise Herbal, The – Matthew Wood
- Holistic Herbal – David Hoffman
- Medical Herbalism – David Hoffman 1
- New Encylopedia of Herbs & Their Uses – Deni Bown