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 Herbal Materia Medica: Yarrow  
Achillea millefolium


Names: Milfoil

Habitat: Native to Eurasia and naturalized in North America, found intemperate zones.

Collection: The whole of the plant above ground should be gathered when in flower between June and September.

Part Used: Aerial parts.


  • Volatile oil, containing [[alpha]]- and [[beta]]-pinenes, borneol, bornyl acetate, camphor, caryophyllene, eugenol, farnesene, myrcene, sabinene, salicylic acid, terpineol, thujone and many others, and including the sesquiterpene lactones. Many samples contain high concentrations of azulenes, up to about 50%, including chamazulene and guajazulene.
  • Sesquiterpene lactones; achillin, achillicin, hydroxyachillin, balchanolide, leucodin, millifin, millifolide and many others.
  • Alkaloids and bases; betonicine (= achilleine), stachydrine, achiceine, moschatine, trigonelline and others.
  • Miscellaneous; acetylenes, aldehydes, cyclitols, plant acids etc.
Actions: Diaphoretic, hypotensive, astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, anti-microbial, bitter, hepatic.

Indications: Yarrow is one of the best diaphoretic herbs and is astandard remedy for aiding the body to deal with fevers. It lowers bloodpressure due to a dilation of the peripheral vessels. It stimulates the digestion and tones the blood vessels. As a urinary antiseptic it is indicated in infections such as cystitis. Used externally it will aid in thehealing of wounds. It is considered to be a specific in thrombotic conditions associated with hypertension.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a "mild, slow & stimulating diaphoretic: indicated for the first stage of acute febrile reactions. For atonic & relaxed tissues where there is free discharge or passive haemorrhage of bright red blood. Cold preparations stimulate the appetite and tone the digestive organs." They give the following specific indications: Acute stage of colds, influenza and respiratory catarrhs. Chronic diarrhoea and dysentery. Epistaxis, intestinal haemorrhage and bleeding haemorrhoids. Uterine haemorrhage, profuse protracted menstruation and leucorrhoea.

Ellingwood considered it specific for "hot, dry burning skin, at the beginning of acute asthenic fevers, with suppressed secretion; deficientrenal action, with renal or urethral irritation; acute or chronic Bright'sdisease in its incipient stage. Leucorrhoea with relaxed vaginal walls. Menorrhagia and amenorrhoea; haemorrhoids with bloody discharge, atonic gastric and intestinal dyspepsia; passive haemorrhages." In addition he recommends it for the following patholgies: haematuria, uterine haemorrhage, intestinal irritation, leucorrhoea, fevers, ureamia, oedema, tonsillitis, epididymitis.

Combinations: For fevers it will combine well with Elder Flower, Peppermint, Boneset and with Cayenne and Ginger. For raised blood pressure it may be used with Hawthorn, Linden Flowers and European Mistletoe.

Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse for l0-l5 minutes. This should be drunk hot three times a day. When feverish it should be drunk hourly.Tincture: take 2-4ml of the tincture three times a day.

Citations from the Medline database for the genus Achillea

YarrowBarel S Segal R Yashphe J The antimicrobial activity of the essential oil from Achilleafragrantissima.

J Ethnopharmacol 1991 May-Jun;33(1-2):187-91Chandler RF Hooper SN Hooper DL Jamieson WD Flinn CG Safe LM Herbal remedies of the Maritime Indians: sterols and triterpenes ofAchillea millefolium L. (Yarrow).

J Pharm Sci 1982 Jun;71(6):690-3Goldberg AS Mueller EC Eigen E Desalva SJ Isolation of the anti-inflammatory principles from Achillea millefolium(Compositae).

J Pharm Sci 1969 Aug;58(8):938-41Ibragimov DI Kazanskaia GB [Antimicrobial action of cranberry bush, common yarrow and Achilleabiebersteinii]

Antibiotiki 1981 Feb;26(2):108-9 (Published in Russian) Kelley BD Appelt GD Appelt JM Pharmacological aspects of selected herbs employed in hispanic folkmedicine in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, USA: II. Asclepias asperula(inmortal) and Achillea lanulosa (plumajillo).

J Ethnopharmacol 1988 Jan;22(1):1-9Peng Y Yan H Wang SQ Liu XT 65 cases of urinary tract infection treated by total acid of Achilleaalpina.

J Tradit Chin Med 1983 Sep;3(3):217-8Tewari JP Srivastava MC Bajpai JL Phytopharmacologic studies of Achillea millefolium Linn.

Indian J Med Sci 1974 Aug;28(8):331-6

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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