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Herbal Monograph

Herb:  Yarrow   (Achillea millefolium;  Compositae)

Other Names:  band man’s plaything, bloodwort, carpenter’s weed, devil’s nettle, devil’s plaything, milfoil, nosebleed, old man’s pepper, sanguinary, soldier’s woundwort, staunchweed, thousand weed    (2)

Milfoil, thousandleaf, nosebleed.    (57)

Character/Energetics:    bitter, spicy, neutral  (6); cool, dry; sweet, astringent, slightly bitter taste  (15)                                  

Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected:  lungs, liver   (6)     circulation    (14)

Part(s) used:   flowers, aerial parts  (2); leaves and flowers  (6)

Identification & Harvesting:    Harvest during flowering season.  White, pink, or purple composite flowers in dense cymes.  Plants grow to 5 ft, with hardy horizontal rhizomes which grow from underground runners.  Stem is simple, erect, and hairy.  Lanceolate leaves and multi-pinnate with short acute tips.  Grows in Europe  (2)

gather during flowering between June and September.    (8)

Flowers: Harvest during summer and autumn;   Leaves: Harvest throughout the growing season; Aerial parts: Harvest during flowering  (15)

Stem is angular, rough.  Leaves alternate, about 3-4 inches long and 1 inch broad, bipinnatifid, clasping the stem at the base; the segments very narrow, short and linear acute.  the whole plant is more or less hairy with white, silky, appressed hairs.  The flowerheads are small, white, minutely daisy-like, in flattened-terminal corymbose cymes.  Tastes insipid.  Feeble odor.    (57)                                                                          

Active Constituents:    Volatile oils .2-1%:  chiefly chamazulene (blue 6-19%, max 40%), camphor (up to 20%), beta-pinene (up to 23%), 1,8-cineole (up to 10%), caryophyllene (up to 10%), alpha-pinene (5%), isoartemisiaketon (up to 8%).  Composition depends greatly upon strain;  some strains do not contain chamazulene.  Sesquiterpene lactones (chiefly guaianolides) incl. achillicin, 8-alpha-angeloyloxy-10-epi-artabsin, 2,3-dihydro-desacetoxy-matricin, alpha-peroxyachifolide.  Polyynes incl. ponticaepoxide.  Alkamids incl. tetradeca-4,6-diin-10,12-dien acetyl isobutylamides.  Flavonoids incl. apigenine-7-O-glucoside, luteolin-7-O-glucoside, rutin.  Betaines incl. L-stachydrine.    (2)

Essential oil, cineol and proaculene; achilleine, which is the bitter component of the herb.  (6);

Up to .5% volatile oils, flavonoids, tannins, a bitter alkaloid.    (8)

volatile oil (incl. proazulenes), isovalerianic acid, salicylic acid, asparagin, sterols, flavonoids, bitters, tannins, coumarins  (15)                                                       

Actions:    Cholagogue, antibacterial, astringent, antispasmodic.  Effect probably results from interplay of various structured connections between chamazulene and flavonoids, in a similar fashion to chamomile flowers, as their components are partially identical.    (2)

Diaphoretic, carminative, hemostatic, astringent, antispasmodic, stomachic   (6)  Aerial parts: astringent, promote sweating, relax peripheral blood vessels, digestive stimulant, restorative for menstrual system, febrifuge. 

diaphoretic, hypotensive, astringent, diuretic, antiseptic.  One of the best diaphoretics.  Lowers blood pressure via peripheral vasodilation.  Tones the blood vessels.  An external vulnerary.    (8)

Primarily astringent, diaphoretic, hemostatic;  also stimulant.    (14)

Essential Oil: anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, antispasmodic    (15)

Diaphoretic, stimulant, tonic.  Opens the pores and purifies the blood.    (57)

Conditions & Uses:    Used internally for loss of appetite, dyspeptic ailments, diarrhea, bloating, cramps.  Used externally as a partial bath for female pelvic cramps, liver disorders, and for healing of wounds.  Folk medicinal uses include hemostyptic for bleeding hemorrhoids, menstrual complaints.    (2)

Yarrow is used to treat colds, flu, fevers and menstrual cramps. 

For bleeding yarrow is taken internally and topically applied as a poultice. It also treats digestive upset, gas, diarrhea, anorexia, hyperacidityand gastritis. This herb has a long history of association with the occult and mysticaI. The stalks are used for divining the Chinese I Ching. (6)

A standard remedy for fever.  As a urinary antiseptic, it is indicated in infections such as cystitis.  Considered a specific in thrombotic conditions associated with hypertension.    (8)

Internal uses — bleeding piles, colds, measles, skin diseases:  infusion.  Blood purifier, epididymitis, hemorrhoids, uremic poisoning:  infusion, tincture, fluid extract.  Blood in urine, tonic to urinary organs:  infusion, fluid extract, tincture, powder*.  Deficient urinary function:  infrusion, fluid extract, tincture.  Lung hemorrhage:  infusion*, powder*.  Jaundice:  powder*, infusion*, tincture*, fluid extract*.  Leukorrhea, menorrhagia, amenorrhea:  tincture, fluid extract, infusion*.  Piles:  tincture, fluid extract, infusion.

External uses — bleeding piles, hemorrhoids, piles:  retention enema.

*Usually used in combination with other herbs when treating the indicated problem.

Yarrow tea is excellent for shrinking hemorrhoids, hemorrhages and bleeding of the lungs.  It can be taken in tincture form with excellent results.  For piles, vaginal secretions and hemorrhage, use as a douche or enema.  Inject into the colon after each bowel movement (two ounces) if there is swelling or bleeding.  If there is much pain, inject a warm tea (112-115 degrees F) and it will soothe and alleviate pain.  It is excellent for diarrhea when taken internally for infants.  It will expel gas from the stomach.  It is an excellent fever remedy in conditions such as measles, colds, flu and skin eruptions.  It is a good antiseptic because of its tannin and essential oils.  Add yarrow to salves and boluses.    (14)

Flowers: Rich in chemicals that are converted by steam into anti-allergenic compounds, the flowers are used for various mucus problems, including hay fever.

Essential Oil: The dark blue oil, extracted by steam distillation of the flowers, is generally used as an anti-inflammatory or in chest rubs for colds and influenza.   

Leaves: The leaves encourage clotting, so can be used fresh for nosebleeds. However, inserting a leaf in the nostril may also start a nosebleed; this was once done to relieve migraines.

Aerial parts: Used for phlegm conditions, as a bitter digestive tonic to encourage bile flow, and as a diuretic. The aerial parts act as a tonic for the blood, stimulate the circulation, and can be used for high blood pressure. Also useful in menstrual disorders, and as an effective sweating remedy to bring down fevers.  

For high blood pressure (hypertension)–Relaxes the peripheral blood vessels and improves blood flow. Add 15 g herb to 500 ml water for an infusion; take up to 2.5 ml tincture 3x a day./Can combine with linden if arteriosclerosis is a problem, or with cardiac tonics like hawthorn.   (15)

Most useful in colds, obstructed perspiration, and the commencement of fevers.    (57)

Combinations:  For fever, combine with elder flower, peppermint, boneset, cayenne and ginger.  For hypertension, combine with hawthorn, lime blossom and mistletoe.    (8)

For high blood pressure (hypertension)–Relaxes the peripheral blood vessels and improves blood flow. Add 15 g herb to 500 ml water for an infusion; take up to 2.5 ml tincture 3x a day./Can combine with linden if arteriosclerosis is a problem, or with cardiac tonics like hawthorn.   (15)

Combined with elder flowers and peppermint, it yields a speedy cure for flu, colds, etc.    (57)

Precautions:    Occasional allergic reactions occur.  Potential for sensitization of varying severity.  Protect from light and moisture.  Essential oil should not be stored in synthetic containers.    (2)

In rare cases, yarrow can cause severe allergic skin rashes; prolonged use can increase the skin’s photosensitivity.

Avoid large doses in pregnancy, because the herb is a uterine stimulant.  (15)                                                                                                                                  

Tincturing Process:

Applications:    Infusion:  steep 5-15 min.;  6 oz. 3-4 x daily.  Tincture:  5-20 drops, 3-4 x daily.  Fluid extract:  1/2-1 tsp., 3-4 x daily.  Oil:  5-20 drops, 3-4 x daily.  Powder:  5-10 #0 capsules (30-60 grains), 3-4 x daily.    (14)

Flowers:Infusion–Drink for upper respiratory phlegm or use externally as a wash for eczema.  

      Inhalation–For hay fever and mild asthma, use fresh in boiling water

Essential Oil:Massage Oil–For inflamed joints, dilute 5-10 drops yarrow oil in 25 ml                             infused St. John’s wort oil

            Chest Rub–For chesty colds and influenza, combine with eucalyptus, peppermint,           hyssop, or thyme oils, diluting a total of 20 drops in 25 ml           almond or sunflower oil.

Leaves:Fresh–To stop a nosebleed, insert a leaf into the nostril

               Poultice–Wrap washed, fresh leaves on cuts and grazes

Aerial Parts:Infusion: Use to reduce fevers and as a digestive tonic.

                        Tincture:   Use for urinary disorders or menstrual problems. Prescribed for         cardiovascular complaints.

            Compress: Soak a pad in the infusion or dilute tincture to soothe varicose veins  (15)


Dosage:  standard infusion or 3‑9 gms; tincture, 10‑30 drops.   (6)

The infusion of an ounce to a pint of boiling water is taken in half-cup doses, drunk warm.  Liquid extract dose, 1/2-1 drachm.    (57)

General Notes:



(2)  PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 604-5

(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., pg. 161

(8)  The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 243

(14) Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo BS, MH, pgs. 195-96

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs. 30, 148-49

(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., p. 381


PHOTO: Wikipedia