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Herbal Monograph: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Common Names:

  • Yarrow

  • Common Yarrow

  • Milfoil

  • Soldier's Woundwort

Botanical Name:

  • Achillea millefolium


  • Asteraceae (Daisy family)

Overview: Yarrow, scientifically known as Achillea millefolium, is a versatile and widely recognized herb with a rich history of use in traditional medicine across various cultures. This hardy perennial herb is native to Europe but can now be found growing in many regions worldwide. Yarrow is celebrated for its diverse range of potential health benefits, including wound healing, digestive support, and fever reduction. Its scientific name, Achillea millefolium, is derived from the legend that Achilles used Yarrow to treat the wounds of his soldiers during the Trojan War.

Botanical Description:

  • Plant: Yarrow is a herbaceous perennial plant that typically reaches heights of 1 to 3 feet. It has feathery, fern-like leaves and produces flat-topped clusters of small, white or pink flowers.

  • Leaves: The leaves are finely divided and appear similar to fern fronds, giving rise to its species name "millefolium," which means "thousand-leaved."

  • Flowers: Yarrow flowers are composed of many tiny florets arranged in dense, umbrella-like clusters.

Traditional Uses: Yarrow has been traditionally used for various purposes, including:

  1. Wound Healing: Yarrow has a long history of use in wound care. It's applied topically to help stop bleeding, promote clotting, and aid in wound healing.

  2. Digestive Support: Yarrow is believed to have digestive benefits and has been used to ease indigestion, stimulate appetite, and relieve gastrointestinal discomfort.

  3. Fever Reduction: In some traditional systems, Yarrow is used to reduce fever by inducing perspiration, which can help lower body temperature.

  4. Menstrual Health: Yarrow has been used to alleviate menstrual cramps and irregularities.

  5. Respiratory Health: It is also used to relieve symptoms of coughs and colds.

Active Constituents: Yarrow contains a variety of bioactive compounds, including:

  • Sesquiterpene Lactones: These compounds contribute to Yarrow's potential anti-inflammatory effects.

  • Flavonoids: Yarrow contains flavonoids with antioxidant properties.

  • Tannins: Tannins may play a role in Yarrow's astringent and wound-healing properties.

  • Volatile Oils: Yarrow contains volatile oils, which contribute to its aroma and potential therapeutic effects.

Preparation and Usage: Yarrow can be prepared and used in various forms, including:

  • Herbal Tea: Yarrow tea is made by steeping 1-2 teaspoons of dried Yarrow flowers and leaves in hot water for 10-15 minutes.

  • Tinctures: Liquid extracts of Yarrow are available and can be taken orally or applied topically to wounds.

  • Salves: Yarrow salves or ointments are made by infusing Yarrow into a carrier oil and then mixing it with beeswax to create a topical application for wound care.

Precautions and Considerations:

  • While Yarrow is generally considered safe, individuals with allergies to plants in the Asteraceae family (such as ragweed or marigolds) may be more likely to experience allergic reactions.

  • Pregnant or nursing individuals should consult a healthcare professional before using Yarrow.

  • Always seek medical attention for serious wounds or medical conditions.

Yarrow is a cherished herbal remedy with a rich history of use in traditional healing practices. As with any herbal remedy, it's advisable to seek guidance from a qualified healthcare practitioner for personalized advice, especially if you have specific health concerns or are taking medications.

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The herbalist, chemist, and medicine maker at Asili Apothecary, Gloria created this space to facilitate healing and learning for yourself and those around you. The apothecary and homestead is based in Fayetteville, NC. Gloria enjoys time with her family and Mother Nature.

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