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Table of Contents > Herbs > Yarrow
Yarrow
Botanical Name:  Achillea millefolium
Common Names:  Milfoil
 
Overview
Plant Description
Parts Used
Medicinal Uses and Indications
Available Forms
How to Take It
Precautions
Possible Interactions
Supporting Research

Overview

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.


Plant Description

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 feathers.


Parts Used

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 bloom.


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 purposes:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Digestive complaints
  • To increase urine flow
  • Liver and gallbladder conditions
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Menstrual cramps and pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Inflammation
  • To fight infection
  • Fever (brings temperature down by promoting perspiration)
  • To reduce bleeding
  • Wound healing

Available Forms

Yarrow is available in the following forms:

  • Dried or fresh herb
  • Capsules or tablets
  • Tinctures
  • Liquid extract
  • How to Take It

How to Take It

Pediatric

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.

Adult

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 per day
  • Tincture (1:5; 40% ethanol): 2 to 4 mL (40 to 120 drops) three times per day
  • Sitz bath: 3 to 4 ounces (85 to 115 grams) of dried yarrow per 5 gallons (20 liters) of water

Precautions

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.


Possible Interactions

There are no reports in the scientific literature to suggest that yarrow interacts with any conventional medications.


Supporting Research

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:419-423.

Bradley P, ed. British Herbal Compendium. Vol. I. Dorset, Great Britain: British Herbal Medicine Association; 1992:227-229.

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 Press;1999:105-108

Hausen BM. A 6-year experience with compositae mix. Am J Contact Dermat. 1996;7(2):94-99.

McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press; 1996:3.

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. 1998;25(5):3099-410.

White L, Mavor S. Kids, Herbs, Health. Loveland, Colo: Interweave Press;1998:22, 43.


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, HI.

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

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 herein.

 
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Common Cold
Gallbladder Disease
Hemorrhoids
Hypertension
Menstrual Pain
Wounds
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