Legend has it that yarrow (Achillea millefolium) was named after
Achilles, the Greek mythical figure who used it to stop the bleeding wounds of
his soldiers. Popular in European folk medicine, yarrow has traditionally been
used to treat wounds, menstrual ailments, and bleeding hemorrhoids. Its
traditional uses also include the treatment of fevers and colds, and relief of
stomach and intestinal upset.
Yarrow, a member of the Asteraceae family, is closely related to the
chamomiles. It flourishes in a sunny and warm habitat, and is frequently found
in meadows and along roadsides, as well as on dry, sunny slopes. It grows as a
simple, erect, and hairy stem that can reach a height of 5 feet. The entire
plant (with the exception of the fruit) is draped in white, silky hairs. Yarrow
grows from runners as tough, angular, horizontal stems that bear flowers.
Yarrow blooms between June and September. The flowers are typically white,
but either pink or pale purple flowers are common in mountain areas. The petals
are densely arranged in flattened clusters, and the leaves look like
The whole herb, or above-ground parts, of the yarrow plant are used for
medicinal purposes. This includes flowers, leaves, and stems. Yarrow grows in
the wild and is collected for medicinal uses while it is in
Medicinal Uses and Indications
There has been very little research on yarrow's medicinal properties. One
study examining the effects of a three-herb mouthwash (yarrow, juniper, nettle)
showed it to be ineffective in treating gum inflammation or the build-up of
plaque. Even though there have been no studies focused uniquely on yarrow and
how it affects people, clinical experience (and in some cases animal or
laboratory studies) supports the use of yarrow for the following
Loss of appetite
To increase urine flow
Liver and gallbladder conditions
Menstrual cramps and pain
To fight infection
Fever (brings temperature down by promoting perspiration)
To reduce bleeding
Yarrow is available in the following forms:
Dried or fresh herb
Capsules or tablets
How to Take It
How to Take It
Adjust the recommended adult dose to account for the child's weight. Most
herbal dosages for adults are calculated on the basis of a 150 lb (70 kg) adult.
Therefore, if the child weighs 50 lb (20 to 25 kg), the appropriate dose of
yarrow for this child would be 1/3 of the adult dosage.
The following are recommended adult doses for yarrow:
Tea/infusion: three times per day (pour boiling water over 1 to 2
teaspoons of dried yarrow, steep for 3 to 5 minutes)
Dried herb: 2 to 4 grams in capsules, three times per day
Extract (1:1, 25% ethanol): 1 to 4 mL (20 to 120 drops) three times
Tincture (1:5; 40% ethanol): 2 to 4 mL (40 to 120 drops) three times
Sitz bath: 3 to 4 ounces (85 to 115 grams) of dried yarrow per 5
gallons (20 liters) of water
The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and
treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active substances that can trigger
side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For
these reasons, herbs should be taken with care, under the supervision of a
practitioner knowledgeable in the field of botanical medicine.
Contact with yarrow (the actual plant or cosmetic products made with yarrow)
may trigger an allergic skin response in those who are allergic to plants in the
Asteraceae species (feverfew, tansy, chamomile, chrysanthemums, ragweed, and
echinacea). While there has not been adequate research to warrant declaring
yarrow free of adverse effects, it appears to be safe when administered in
recommended therapeutic doses. Pregnant women, however, should avoid its use
because it may induce uterine bleeding and, possibly, a miscarriage. Those who
are breastfeeding should use yarrow only in moderation.
There are no reports in the scientific literature to suggest that yarrow
interacts with any conventional medications.
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Ernst E, ed. The Desktop Guide to Complementary and Alternative
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Herbs and Related Remedies. 4th ed. New York, NY: the Haworth Herbal
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Health-care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:271-273.
Rohloff J, Skagen EB, Steen AH, Iversen TH. Production of
yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.) in Norway: essential oil content and quality.
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Penn: Hanley & Belfus, Inc.; 2002:369-371.
Van der Weijden GA, The effect of herbal extracts in an experimental
mouthrinse on established plaque and gingivitis. J Clin Periodontol.
White L, Mavor S. Kids, Herbs, Health. Loveland, Colo: Interweave
Review Date: April 2002
Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Jacqueline A. Hart, MD,
Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Harvard University
and Senior Medical Editor Integrative Medicine, Boston, MA; Gary Kracoff, RPh
(Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Johnson Drugs, Natick, MA; Steven
Ottariono, RPh (Pediatric Dosing section February 2001), Veteran's
Administrative Hospital, Londonderry, NH; R. Lynn Shumake, PD, Director,
Alternative Medicine Apothecary, Blue Mountain Apothecary & Healing Arts,
University of Maryland Medical Center, Glenwood, MD; David Winston, Herbalist
(September 1999), Herbalist and Alchemist, Inc., Washington, NJ. All interaction
sections have also been reviewed by a team of experts including Joseph Lamb, MD
(July 2000), The Integrative Medicine Works, Alexandria, VA;Enrico Liva, ND, RPh
(August 2000), Vital Nutrients, Middletown, CT; Brian T Sanderoff, PD, BS in
Pharmacy (March 2000), Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Maryland
School of Pharmacy; President, Your Prescription for Health, Owings Mills, MD;
Ira Zunin, MD, MPH, MBA (July 2000), President and Chairman, Hawaii State
Consortium for Integrative Medicine, Honolulu,
The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of
the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse
of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage
to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or
otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents
of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds
currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a
guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information
provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare
practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts)
regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications
before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed