Yarrow

Scientific names: Achillea millefolium

Common names: Yarrow also is known as thousand-leaf, mil foil, green arrow, wound wort, and nosebleed plant.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...No safety concerns despite wide use.

What is Yarrow?

The name yarrow applies to any of roughly 80 species of daisy family (Asteraceae) native to the north temperate zone. A. millefolium is a hardy perennial weed with finely divided leaves and whitish, pink, or reddish flowers. Golden yarrow is Eriophyllum confertiflorum.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Yarrow is native to Europe and Asia, and has been naturalized in North America. Its use in food and medicine is ancient, dating back to the Trojan War, around 1200 BC. In legend, Achilles used it on the Centaur's advice, hence the name. In classical times, yarrow was referred to as “herba militaris” because it stopped bleeding wounds received in war. Yarrow leaves have been used for tea, and young leaves and flowers have been used in salads. Infusions of yarrow have served as cosmetic cleansers and medicines. Sneezewort leaves (A. ptarmica) have been used in sneezing powder, while those of A. millefolium have been used for snuff. Yarrow has been used therapeutically as a “strengthening bitter tonic” and astringent. Chewing fresh leaves has been suggested to relieve toothaches. Yarrow oil has been used in shampoos for a topical “healing” effect.

Miscellaneous uses

Yarrow has been used to induce sweating and to stop wound bleeding. It also has been reported to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and pain. It has been used to relieve GI ailments, for cerebral and coronary thromboses, to lower high blood pressure, to improve circulation, and to tone varicose veins. It has antimicrobial actions, is a natural source for food flavoring, and is used in alcoholic beverages and bitters. Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of yarrow to treat any medical condition.

What is the recommended dosage?

A typical dose of yarrow herb is 4.5 g/day for inflammatory conditions. However, there are no modern clinical studies to validate this dose.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Yarrow is contraindicated in individuals with an existing hypersensitivity to any member of the Asteraceae family. Use in epileptic patients is contraindicated.

Pregnancy/nursing

Documented adverse effects. Emmenagogue (to stimulate menstrual flow) and abortive. Avoid use of yarrow's volatile oil during pregnancy.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Contact dermatitis is the most commonly reported side effect.

Toxicities

Yarrow generally is not considered toxic.

References

  1. Yarrow. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2006. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 23, 2007.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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