as:Achillea, Carpenter's Herb, Common Yarrow, Nosebleed,
Soldier's Wound Wort, Knight’s milfoil, Bloodwort, Sanguinary.
Scientific name:Achillea millefolium,
Botanical Family: Asteraceae/Compositae.
Part used: The above ground parts.
Legend has it that yarrow (Achillea millefolium) was
named after Achilles, the Greek mythical hero who used it to stop
the bleeding wounds of his soldiers. Some First American tribes
used yarrow as a body-wash before battles because it was known to
reduce bleeding from wounds.
As a traditional medicine yarrow is used as a blood cleanser via
the induction of sweating and promoting urine flow. Yarrow
lowers fever, acts as an anti-inflammatory, it staunches
bleeding from small blood vessels, and has antispasmodic and
hypotensive qualities. It is used for feverish illnesses
including, the common cold and influenza, chronic ‘runny’ nose,
absence of or scanty menstrual periods, dysentery, diarrhea, loss
of appetite, mild or crampy discomfort of the digestive tract,
promotion of sweating and reduce high blood pressure. It is used
for toning the venous system and reducing congestion of the lower
limbs and pelvis by enhancing venous return. It is used
throughout the cycle for heavy periods and during menses to
reduce heavy bleeding.
In combination with other herbs, yarrow is used for bloating,
flatulence, mild gastrointestinal cramping, and nervous digestive
In foods, the young leaves and flowers of yarrow are used in
No concerns regarding safety when used orally in amounts commonly
found in foods. Yarrow has Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)
status for use in foods in the US.1
No concerns regarding safety have been reported with medicinal
use of yarrow.2,3
Pregnancy:avoid in pregnancy because its ability
to relax the smooth muscle of the uterus may be associated with
Breastfeeding: because very little information
is available avoid excessive amounts.
Unless advised by a medical herbalist for clinical reasons that
outweigh the lack of information do not take more than 1 tsp per
Sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpene lactones; achillin, achillicin,
hydroxachillen, balchanolide, leucodin, millifin, millifolide,
longipine and achillifolin and their derivatives.
Flavonoids; apigenin, luteolin, quercitin and their glucosides.
Alkaloids and bases; betonicene, stachydrine, achiceine,
moschatine, trigonelline and others.
Miscellaneous; polyvynes, cyclitols, salicylic acid etc.
There is evidence of effectiveness of yarrow for reducing high
blood pressure in anaesthetised rats.
There are no clinical studies on the use of Yarrow for
Mechanism of action.
Yarrow has an evidence base for promoting sweat, lowering fever,
lowering blood pressure, astringency, promotion of urine
flow, urinary antiseptic, antispasmodic, and antiflatulent
effects.4 Yarrow contains amino acids, fatty acids,
ascorbic acid (vitamin C), caffeic acid, folic acid, salicylic
acid, succinic acid, alkaloids, flavonoids including rutin,
tannins, volatile oil, an unknown cyanogenetic compound, and
sugars.4 The volatile oil contains chamazulene, other
azulenes,5 and trace amounts of thujone.4,5
The volatile oil content, and especially the azulene content,
varies considerably depending on the source.5 The
alkaloid fraction has shown evidence of fever lowering and blood
pressure lowering effects.4
A water extract shows some evidence of anti-inflammatory and
diuretic activity. 4
The anti-inflammatory activity is partly mediated by inhibition
of protein splitting enzymes involved in the inflammatory
pathways (HNE and MMP-2 and -9).9 Anti-inflammatory
and anti-allergy activities may be associated with the volatile
oil chamazulene.6 Not all species contain azulene
constituents.6 An alcohol extract shows moderate
Animal studies showed protective anti-stomach ulcer effect which
included protecting the stomach lining against indomethacin (An
Interactions with herbs and
Because yarrow contains the essential oil thujone in very small
amounts there is a possibility that taking other herbs containing
this essential oil will have an additive effect leading to
problems associated with toxicity of high levels of thujone.
Thujone-containing herbs include oak moss, oriental arborvitae,
sage, tansy, thuja (cedar), tree moss, and wormwood. Be careful
to avoid higher than therapeutic doses. Consult a medical
herbalist for advice regarding combining these herbs. The level
of thujone in yarrow used by itself of not a concern.
Interactions with drugs.
Warfarin: there is a theoretical risk of
interaction. Monitor weekly and do not exceed the therapeutic
Lithium. Precaution advised with any herb or
drug with diuretic effect including yarrow, black tea and coffee.
If you start of stop any substance with a diuretic action monitor
your blood lithium level.
Interactions with foods.
Interactions with lababoratory
Tincture: 2-6mls per day 1:5 tincture 30% alcohol.
Infusion: 1-3 tsps per day.
Powder/capsule: 1-2gms per day in tablet form.
Infusion of dried herb: 2-4 gms per day. Typically 1 tsp. three
times daily as a herb tea. This can be increased to 1 tsp. every
2 hours for acute conditions such as influenza.