Scientific Name/Common Name: Achillea millefolium / Yarrow
Part(s) Used: Herb/aerial portions
Constituents/Active Ingredients: From 0.13-1.0% essential oil containing chamazulene, prochamazulene, camphor, sabinene, 1,8-cineole, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, alpha-thujone, borneol, and bornyl acetate. The essential oil also contains beta-bisabolene, alpha-bisabolol, delta-cadinene, and achimillic acids A, B and C. Beta-sitosterol is the major sterol and alpha-amyrin is the major triterpene of this plant. The sterols stigmasterol and campesterol, and the triterpenes beta-amyrin, taraxasterol, and pseudotaraxasterol were also identified. Flavonoids including: apigenin, luteolin, swertisin, vicenin 2 and 3, schaftoside, etc. Yarrow also contains approximately 0.35% coumarins, 3-4% tannins.
Overview: Yarrow is a widely distributed herbaceous perennial that grows up to 70 cm and has highly divided, feathery green leaves and a white or pink panicle of small flower-heads in an umbel-like arrangement. Yarrow is most well known as an appetite stimulant, as well as being a bile stimulant for treating gastrointestinal complaints such as cramps, diarrhea, flatulence, and inflammation. Through its bitter properties and essential oil, yarrow also increases the flow of gastric juices relieving dyspepsia, indigestion, heartburn, and other gastrointestinal complaints including: gastritis, enteritis, colitis, and abdominal cramps. Yarrow tea also contains several spasmolytic compounds and is recommended to alleviate menstrual cramps and to treat amenorrhea. Research on yarrow has demonstrated antibacterial and antifungal properties for several of the compounds contained in the herb and the tea was traditionally used externally to stimulate wound healing and prevent infections. Yarrow is also well known as a styptic or haemostatic and can be taken as a tea for treating internal bleeding including from nosebleeds and hemorrhoids, as well as externally for nosebleeds, wounds, and abrasions. Yarrow tea can also be used externally as an anti-inflammatory wash for treating skin problems such as acne. The German Commission E monograph notes that yarrow tea is antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory and anti-fever) and studies have verified that several compounds contribute to this activity including chamazulene, beta-bisabolene, and alpha-bisabolol.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Digestive tonic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial. Used for menstrual cramps, indigestion, toning blood vessels, and to stimulate wound healing.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Wichtl M, editor. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals: A Handbook for Practice on a Scientific Basis, 3rd edition. Stuttgart (D): Medpharm GmbH Scientific Publishers; 2004.
Foster S, and Duke JA. 1990. Yarrow in Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY, p. 64.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.