|| Achillea millefolium
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
- Digestive complaints
- To increase urine flow
- Liver and gallbladder conditions
- Menstrual irregularities
- Menstrual cramps and pain
- Muscle spasms
- To fight infection
- Fever (brings temperature down by promoting perspiration)
- To reduce bleeding
- Wound healing
Yarrow is available in the following forms:
- Dried or fresh herb
- Capsules or tablets
- Liquid extract
- 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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Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed.
Sandy, Ore: Eclectic Medical; 1998:137-138.
Ernst E, ed. The Desktop Guide to Complementary and Alternative
Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach. New York, NY: Mosby;2001:171.
Final report on the safety assessment of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Extract. Int J Toxicol. 2001;20 Suppl 2:79-84. Review.
Foster S, Tyler V. Tyler's Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of
Herbs and Related Remedies. 4th ed. New York, NY: the Haworth Herbal
Hausen BM. A 6-year experience with compositae mix. Am J Contact
McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American Herbal Products
Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press;
Newall C, Anderson L, Phillipson J. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for
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.
Agric Food Chem. 2000;48(12):6205-6209.
Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia,
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,
Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc
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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