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Yarrow

Uses

Common names:
Milfoil
Botanical names:
Achillea millefolium

Parts Used & Where Grown

This prolific plant grows in Europe, North America, and Asia. A number of species are used as garden ornamentals. The flowering tops of yarrow are used in herbal medicine.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
1 Star
Amenorrhea
Refer to label instructions
Yarrow has traditionally been thought to stimulate absent or diminished menses, though it has not been studied clinically.

Herbal emmenagogues traditionally regarded as stimulating absent or diminished menses are motherwort, rue, partridge berry, and yarrow. None of these herbs has undergone modern clinical trials to determine their efficacy. All emmenagogues should be avoided in pregnancy, as they may possibly cause a spontaneous abortion.

1 Star
Colic
Refer to label instructions
Yarrow is a gas-relieving herb used in traditional medicine to treat colic. It is generally given by healthcare professionals as teas or decoctions to the infant.

Several gas-relieving herbs used in traditional medicine for colic are approved in Germany for intestinal spasms.3 These include yarrow, garden angelica (Angelica archangelica), peppermint, cinnamon, and fumitory (Fumaria officinalis). These herbs are generally given by healthcare professionals as teas or decoctions to the infant. Peppermint tea should be used with caution in infants and young children, as they may choke in reaction to the strong menthol.

1 Star
Common Cold and Sore Throat
Refer to label instructions
Yarrow is a diaphoretic herb that has been used for relief of sore throats.

Boneset is another immune stimulant and diaphoretic that helps fight off minor viral infections, such as the common cold. In addition, linden and hyssop may promote a healthy fever and the immune system’s ability to fight infections. Yarrow is another diaphoretic that has been used for relief of sore throats, though it has not yet been researched for this purpose.

1 Star
Crohn’s Disease
Refer to label instructions
Yarrow is an anti-inflammatory herb historically recommended by doctors for people with Crohn’s disease.

A variety of anti-inflammatory herbs historically have been recommended by doctors for people with Crohn’s disease. These include yarrow, chamomile, licorice, and aloe juice. Cathartic preparations of aloe should be avoided. No research has been conducted to validate the use of these herbs for Crohn’s disease.

1 Star
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions
Yarrow is a digestive stimulant widely used in traditional medicine in North America.

Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.4 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.5. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.

Some bitters widely used in traditional medicine in North America include yarrow, yellow dock, goldenseal, Oregon grape, and vervain. Oregon grape’s European cousin barberry has also traditionally been used as a bitter. Animal studies indicate that yarrow, barberry, and Oregon grape, in addition to stimulating digestion like other bitters, may relieve spasms in the intestinal tract.6

1 Star
Inflammation
Refer to label instructions
Traditional herbal medicine in Europe, China, and India has used yarrow to to treat inflammation in a number of conditions, especially in the intestinal and female reproductive tracts.
Traditional herbal medicine in Europe, China, and India has used yarrow to to treat inflammation in a number of conditions, especially in the intestinal and female reproductive tracts.7
1 Star
Premenstrual Syndrome
Refer to label instructions
Based on anecdotal evidence, yarrow tea may be beneficial when the main symptom of PMS is spastic pain.

Based on anecdotal evidence, yarrow tea has been used by European doctors when the main symptom of PMS is spastic pain.8 Combine 2–3 teaspoons of yarrow flowers with one cup of hot water, then cover and steep for 15 minutes. Drink three to five cups per day beginning two days before PMS symptoms usually commence. In addition, 1–3 cups of the tea added to hot or cold water can be used as a sitz bath.

1 Star
Ulcerative Colitis
Refer to label instructions
Yarrow is an anti-inflammatory and soothing herb that may be effective in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

Aloe vera juice has anti-inflammatory activity and been used by some doctors for people with UC. In a double-blind study of people with mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis, supplementation with aloe resulted in a complete remission or an improvement in symptoms in 47% of cases, compared with 14% of those given a placebo (a statistically significant difference).9 No significant side effects were seen. The amount of aloe used was 100 ml (approximately 3.5 ounces) twice a day for four weeks. Other traditional anti-inflammatory and soothing herbs, including calendula, flaxseed, licorice, marshmallow, myrrh, and yarrow. Many of these herbs are most effective, according to clinical experience, if taken internally as well as in enema form.10 Enemas should be avoided during acute flare-ups but are useful for mild and chronic inflammation. It is best to consult with a doctor experienced with botanical medicine to learn more about herbal enemas before using them. More research needs to be done to determine the effectiveness of these herbs.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Traditional herbal medicine has used yarrow in three broad categories.1 First, it was used to help stop minor bleeding and to treat wounds. Second, it was used to treat inflammation in a number of conditions, especially in the intestinal and female reproductive tracts. Third, it was utilized as a mild sedative. Some or all of these historical uses occurred in Europe, China, and India. The ancient Chinese fortune-telling system known as the I Ching first used dried yarrow stems, then later replaced them with coins.2

How It Works

Common names:
Milfoil
Botanical names:
Achillea millefolium

How It Works

A number of chemicals may contribute to yarrow’s actions. The volatile oil, which is rich in sesquiterpene lactones, and alkamides has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties in test tube studies.11 , 12 Animal studies have shown this herb can reduce smooth muscle spasms, which might further explain its usefulness in gastrointestinal conditions.13 The alkaloid obtained from yarrow, known as achilletin, reportedly stops bleeding in animals.14 No human clinical studies have confirmed the traditional uses of yarrow.

How to Use It

The German Commission E monograph suggests approximately 1 teaspoon (4.5 grams) of yarrow daily or 3 teaspoons (15 ml) of the fresh pressed juice.15 A tea can be prepared by steeping 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 grams) of yarrow in 1 cup (250 ml) boiling water for ten to fifteen minutes. Three cups (750 ml) a day can be taken. A tincture, 1/2–3/4 teaspoon (3–4 ml) three times per day, can be taken. The tea, or cloths dipped in the tea, can be used topically as needed for minor skin injuries.

Interactions

Common names:
Milfoil
Botanical names:
Achillea millefolium

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Common names:
Milfoil
Botanical names:
Achillea millefolium

Side Effects

People who take yarrow may occasionally develop an allergy or rash.16 Yarrow might increase sensitivity to sunlight. Yarrow should not be used to treat large, deep, or infected wounds, all of which require medical attention. Yarrow is not recommended during pregnancy or breast-feeding.17

References

1. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. New York, Bantam Books, 1991, 550–4.

2. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. New York, Bantam Books, 1991, 550–4.

3. Schilcher H. Phytotherapy in Paediatrics. Stuttgart: Medpharm Scientific Publishers, 1997, 80.

4. Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician’s Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed, Berlin: Springer, 1998, 168–73.

5. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425–6.

6. Tewari JP, Srivastava MC, Bajpai JL. Pharmacologic studies of Achillea millefolium Linn. Indian J Med Sci 1994;28(8):331–6.

7. Castleman M. The Healing Herbs. New York, Bantam Books, 1991, 550–4.

8. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 315.

9. Langmead L, Feakins RM, Goldthorpe S, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral aloe vera gel for active ulcerative colitis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2004;19:739–47.

10. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Beaconsfield, UK: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1989, 114–5.

11. Zitterl-Eglseer K, Jurenitsch J, Korhammer S, et al. Sesquiterpene lactones of Achillea setacea with antiphlogistic activity. Planta Med 1991;57:444–6.

12. Muller-Jakic B, Breu W, Probstle A, et al. In vitro inhibition of cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase by alkamides from Echinacea and Achillea species. Planta Med 1994;60:37–40.

13. Tewari JP, Srivastava MC, Bajpai JL. Pharmacologic studies of Achillea millefolium Linn. Indian J Med Sci 1994;28:331–6.

14. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 10–1.

15. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 233–4.

16. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 3.

17. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds). American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 3.

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