Yarrow Summary:

Yarrow, is the common name of herbs in the genus Achillea which comprises over 140 perenial herbs, mainly distributed in the northern hemisphere. This herb can be found growing as a weed in mountainous areas and hilly areas. Garden varieties are also available and come in a huge range of colors. 

This is by far one of the most versatile herbs in the world. For starters, it has an intense bitter flavour that is useful for digestive stimulation. It is also a potent diaphoretic, which help to break fevers, and reduce body temperature on hot days through induced sweating. It is also an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, hepatoprotective, and astringent, making it useful for a long list of conditions. 

The only thing stopping this herb from being used as much as it should be, s the intensely bitter flavour which is hard to mask with other herbs. 

Externally, the leaves are a useful for stopping blood flow from a wound, while simultaneously cleaning the area of bacterial and fungal infections. It can be stuffed up the nose to stop nosebleeds, and packed onto wounds to stop the blood flow. It was commonly powdered and used on gunshot wounds by soldiers in world war 2. It is actually very effective for this, and will stop hemmorhages in as little as a few seconds. 


Botanical Name

Achillea millefolium

Family

Asteraceae

Part Used

Whole herb

Herbal Actions:

  • Antioxidant [1, 2, 5]
  • Diaphoretic [5]
  • Astringent [5]
  • Tonic [5]
  • Mild stimulant
  • Hypoglycemic [2]
  • Antispasmodic [4, 13]
  • Antinociceptive [6, 7]
  • Antinflammatory [6, 8]
  • Vulnerary [5, 6, 9-11]
  • Styptic [5, 6]
  • Hepatoprotective [6, 12]

Dosage

Liquid Extract (1:2)

2-6 mL/day

Recommended Source

Indications:

[5, 16]

  • Fever
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Colds, especially in the commencement of fevers and cases with obstructed persperation
  • Influenza, especially with fevers
  • Kidney disorders
  • Weak appetite
  • Stomach cramps
  • flatulence
  • gastritis
  • External bleding of any kind
  • Enteritis
  • Wounds
  • Sores
  • Skin rashes

Common Names:

  • Nosebleed
  • Milfoil
  • Old man's pepper
  • Soldiers woundwort
  • Knights milfoil
  • Herbe militaris
  • Thousand weed
  • Bloodwort
  • Staunchweed
  • Devils nettle
  • Thousand weed
  • Devils plaything
  • Yarroway

Traditional Uses:

Traditionally, yarrow was used as a styptic and vulnerary, and was especially useful in times of war by the soldiers. some of its common names reflect this use very well such as "Soldiers wound wort", and "Knights milefoil". The famous herbalist Gerard suggests that yarrow was used by Achilles to stanch the bleeding of his soldiers [5, 6]. This may be why the herbs botanical name is Achillea millefollium. He also suggested its use for headaches, to stop nosebleeds, and for tootheaches [14]. 

Culpeper suggested it is "drying and binding" and suggested a pultice of yarrow for trating piles, and an ointment of the leaves for wounds [14]. 

In the 17th century it's leaves were used in salads despite it's highly bitter taste [5]. 

A wash was used to prevent baldness and treat bleeding piles by making a strong decoction of the whole plant [5]. 


    Botanical Description:

    Yarrow is a creping, perennial herb, reaching heights of up to 60 cm. The leaflets are feather-like, and resemblethat of a small fern. 

    The flowers are tiny, daisy-like andcome in a range of colors including pink, white, yellow, or orange. 


    Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

    Yarrow grows mainly in the northern hemisphere, and is considered a weed in most places. It can be found growing anywhere, but mainly in grass, pastures, in mountainous valleys, and on the roadside. It is often found as a weed in gardens.

    It is mainly cultivated on a large scale in Germany, Belgium, Hungary, and Yugoslavia [14]. 


    Harvesting, Collection, and Preparation:

    Yarrow is easy to cultivate in temperate climates, and has a tendency to become a garden weed.

    Yarrow can be collected, dried, and powdered to keep on hand for any cuts or wounds in which first aid treatment requires the stoppage of blood. 


    Constituents:

    [5, 16]

    • Sesquiterpene lactones
      • Achillolide A
    • Volatile oil [14]:
      • Tricyclene (0.27%)
      • alpha-Pinene (9.41%)
      • Camphene (6.02%)
      • beta-Pinene (7.13%)
      • Sabinene (12.35%)
      • Borneol acetate (2.1%)
      • 1,8-Cineole (9.59%)
      • gamma-terpinene (3.71%)
      • Limonene (1.71%)
      • Isoartemisia ketone (8.6%)
      • Borneol (2.55%)
      • Camphor (17.79%)
      • Chamazulene (Trace amounts)
    • Achellein
    • Achilleic acid
    • Resin
    • Tannin
    • Gum
    • Phenolic compounds
      • flavonoids
        • mono- and diglycosides of apigenin, luteolin and quercetin.
      • lignins
      • Aglycons
    • The main constituents in the genus Achillea includes: phenolic compounds: quinnic acid, malic acid, tr-aconitic acid, gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, protocatechuic acid, tannic acid, tr-caffeic acid, vanillin, p-coumaric acid, rosmarinic acid, rutin, hesperidin, hyperoside, 4-OH benzoic acid, salicylic acid, myrecitin, fisetin, coumarin, quercetin, naringenin, hesperitin, luteolin, kaempferol, apigenin, rhamnetin, chrysin [6]. 

    Pharmacology and Medical Research:

     

    Anti-Diabetic

    The beta-cells of the pancreas, are the source of insulin for the human body, damage to these cells, will result in diabetes, which in turn has a wide range of negative health implications. Protecting these cells, or reducing the damage occurring here through the use of herbs such as Achillea millefolium could be an important control method and treatment option for this widespread and ultimately fatal disease. 

    Yarrow extract was shown to protect the pancreatic beta-cells from damage. This action was found to be at least partly due to it's ability to decrease the mRNA gene expression of IL-1-beta and iNOS, which itself exerts most of its actions through the inflammatory pathway Nf-kB [1]. IL-1-beta has been found to play a significant role in the destruction of these important beta-cells in the body, and as such blocking its interaction with its corresponding receptors has become a therapeutic strategy at a preclinical level so far [2].  

     

    Antioxidant

    Oxidative damage is a normal part of metabolic processes, however, the inability to manage these free radicals, overproduction of free radicals, exposure to external oxidant substances, or regulation mechanism failure can lead to damage to cellular DNA, lipids, and proteins within our body. This can result in a wide range of conditions such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons disease, diabetes, and atherosclerosis [6]. 

    Achillea millefolium contains a variety of directly antioxidant constituents such as flavonoids, and the sesquiterpene lactone achilloline A. These compounds scavenge free radicals throughout the body, which reduces the cellular damage and degradation that naturally occurs with free radical species. Achilloline A was studied more closely to investigate its antioxidant actions more specifically in the astrocytes of the nervous system. It was found that achilloline A was able to act by inhibiting microglial activation, modulate MAPK activity, and reduce reactive oxygen species levels in the microglial cells [3]. This shows a significant ability for achilloline A to protect the astrocytes of the nervous system, mainly through antioxidant, and free radical preventative actions. 

    Achillea millefolium also possess antioxidant effects through indirect means, such as through an inhibition of inflammatory triggering interleukins and iNOS [1]. 

     

    Antispasmodic

    Achillea millefollium hydroalcoholic extract was shown to inhibit the contraction of smooth muscle of the ileum in rats. This action was noted to be through a blockade of voltage dependent calcium ion channels [4]. 

     

    Toxicity

    Yarrow is reported to be non-toxic and non-irritating [15].  

     

    Cautions:

    Sensitivities have been reported [16]

    Avoid thujone containing varieties during pregnancy [16]


    Traditional Chinese Medicine:

    Yarrow is considered to be cooling and drying. It stimulates the liver and regulates the flow of Qi. It is generally used for inflammatory, and digestive conditions and releasing stagnant Qi [14]. 


    Synergy:

    Still compiling research. 

    Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary

    Author:

    Justin Cooke

    The Sunlight Experiment

    Updated: July 2017


    Recent Blog Posts:

    References:

    1. Zolghadri Y, Fazeli M, Marzieh Kooshki M, Shomali T, Karimaghayee N,  Dehghani M. (2014). Achillea Millefolium L. Hydro- Alcoholic Extract Protects Pancreatic Cells by Down Regulating IL- 1β and iNOS Gene Expression in Diabetic Rats. Int J Mol Cell Med. Vol 3(4) 262
    2. Grishman EK, White PC, Savani RC. (2012). Toll-like receptors, the NLRP3 inflammasome, and interleukin-1beta in the development and progression of type 1 diabetes. Pediatr Res. 71:626-32.
    3. Elmann, A., Telerman, A., Erlank, H., Ofir, R., Kashman, Y., & Beit-Yannai, E. (2016). Achillolide A Protects Astrocytes against Oxidative Stress by Reducing Intracellular Reactive Oxygen Species and Interfering with Cell Signaling. Molecules, 21(3), 301. doi:10.3390/molecules21030301
    4. Moradi, M., Rafieian-Koupaei, M., Imani-Rastabi, R., Nasiri, J., Shahrani, M., Rabiei, Z., & Alibabaei, Z. (2013). Antispasmodic effects of yarrow (Achillea millefolium l.) extract in the isolated ileum of rat. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 10(6), 499. doi:10.4314/ajtcam.v10i6.19
    5. A Modern Herbal. (1931). Yarrow. Retrieved from http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/y/yarrow02.html
    6. Agar, O., Dikmen, M., Ozturk, N., Yilmaz, M., Temel, H., & Turkmenoglu, F. (2015). Comparative Studies on Phenolic Composition, Antioxidant, Wound Healing and Cytotoxic Activities of Selected Achillea L. Species Growing in Turkey. Molecules,20(10), 17976-18000. doi:10.3390/molecules201017976
    7. Karabay-Yavasoglu, N.U.; Karamenderes, C.; Baykan, S.; Apaydin, S. (2007). Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities and acute toxicity of Achillea nobilis subsp. neilreichii extract in mice and rats. Pharm. Biol. 2007, 45, 162–168.
    8. Al-Hindawi, M.K.; Al-Deen, I.H.S.; Nabi, M.H.A.; Ismail, M.A. (1989). Anti-inflammatory activity of some Iraqi plants using intact rats. J. Ethnopharmacol. 26, 163–168.
    9. Ghasemi, P.A.; Koohpayeh, A.; Karimi, I. (2009). Effect of natural remedies on dead space wound healing in wistar rats. Pharmacogn. Mag. 5, 433–436.
    10. Akkol, K.E.; Koca, U.; Pesin, İ.; Yilmazer, D. (2011). Evaluation of the wound healing potential of Achillea biebersteinii Afan. (Asteraceae) by in vivo excision and incision models. J. Evid. Based Complement. Altern. Med. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep039.
    11. Temamogullari, F.; Hayat, A.; Baba, F. (2009). Effects of Yarrow Extract on Wound Healing in Rabbits. J. Anim. Vet. Adv. 8, 1204–1206.
    12. Yaeesh, S.; Jamal, Q.; Khan, A.U.; Gilani, A.H. (2006). Studies on hepatoprotective, antispasmodic and calcium antagonist activities of the aqueous-methanol extract of Achillea millefolium. Phytother. Res. 20, 546–551.
    13. Karamenderes, C.; Apaydın, S. (2003). Antispasmodic effect of Achillea nobilis L. subsp. sipylea (O. Schwarz) Bässler on the rat isolated duodenum. J. Ethnopharmacol. 84, 175–179.
    14. Battaglia, S. (2003). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy (2nd ed.). Brisbane, Australia: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy. (Pg 276-277).
    15. Lawless J. (1992). The encyclopedia of essential oils. Element books limited, Great Britain. 
    16. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: Herbal formulations for the individual patient. Edinburgh [u.a.: Churchill Livingstone. (Pg. 471-473).