Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is a perennial flowering plant native to Europe, Asia, and North America. It belongs to the Asteraceae family, which also includes daisies and sunflowers. Yarrow is known for its feathery leaves and clusters of small, white, pink or yellow flowers that bloom from late spring to early autumn.

Cultivation of Yarrow

Yarrow is easy to grow and is often cultivated in gardens for its ornamental value as well as its medicinal properties. It thrives in well-drained soil and full sun but can tolerate a wide range of soil types and growing conditions. Yarrow can spread aggressively in the garden through its rhizomes, so it may need to be contained or divided periodically to prevent overcrowding.

History of Yarrow Use

Yarrow is a versatile and valuable herb with a wide range of traditional uses and potential health benefits.

Yarrow has been steeped in folklore and symbolism throughout history. In Ancient times, it was associated with divination, love and protection rituals. It was also believed to have magical properties, such as the ability to ward off evil spirits and attract love. In some cultures, yarrow was used as a strewing herb to repel insects and freshen the air.

Europe: Yarrow originates from Europe and has adapted to the regions of North America as well as other moderate regions. The word “Achillea” refers to Achilles, an ancient hero. He said that he used yarrow for himself and for his soldiers. “Millefolium” means “coming of a thousand leaves”. This refers to the very small, fine and feathery leaves of this plant.

Ancient Greeks: Yarrow was first used by Ancient Greeks over 3,000 years ago for treating external wounds on the skin. The flowers and leaves of yarrow were eaten and also made into a tea-like drink. The fresh leaves were used to stop bleeding wounds, treat gastrointestinal problems, fight fevers, lessen menstrual bleeding and better circulation. The fresh leaves were also chewed on to relieve tooth aches. Scientists have credited yarrow for its benefits relating to almost every organ in the body.

Native Americans: Native Americans used yarrow for wounds, infections and bleeding.

Chinese Medicine: Chinese medicine gives it praise for the ability to affect the kidney, spleen, liver and energy channels throughout the body.

While scientific research on yarrow’s medicinal properties is ongoing, it continues to be cherished for its natural beauty and healing properties by herbalists and gardeners alike.

Active Ingredients in Yarrow

The entire Yarrow plant is used, both dried and fresh, and is best when gathered while in flower. Yarrow contains a variety of bioactive compounds including; flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins and volatile oils.

The main active ingredients in Yarrow are; Alpha Pinene, Acetate, Borneol, Beta Pinene, Borneol, Cineole, Camphene, Camphor, Gamma Terpinene, Isoartemisia Ketone, Chamazulene, Limonene, Sabinene and Tricyclene.

These compounds are thought to contribute to yarrow’s medicinal properties, including its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antimicrobial effects.

Yarrow Research

Animal studies have also shown support for the use of yarrow in cleansing wounds and controlling the bleeding of wounds, cuts and abrasions.

Yarrow is also thought of as a uterine tonic, supporting circulation in the uterine area of the body. Many studies show that it helps the uterus by improving the tone, increasing menstrual flow and reducing spasms.

Health Benefits of Yarrow

Yarrow has a long history of use in traditional medicine for various purposes. It is highly known and widely used in herbal medicines and supplied either externally or internally.

Below we will explore some of Yarrow’s health benefits in more detail:

Yarrow Fights Bacteria: Yarrow has an antiseptic action. The bitter parts and fatty acids encourage bile flow out of the gallbladder, known as the cholagogue effect. The free-flowing action improves digestion and prevents and gallstones from forming. 

Decongestant: Yarrow contains a drying effect and seems to improve coughs and sinus infections with sputum formation. 

Astringent: Yarrow is very helpful with allergies where nasal secretions and watery eyes are caused by mould, dust, pollen and dander.

Infections: Yarrow is also known to cause sweating in cases of flu, fevers and colds, helping to cure simple infections. 

Infusion: Yarrow is used to aid in healing skin conditions, such as eczema. The essential oils are used and rubbed onto the affected area. 

Anti-inflammatory: The oil found in the yarrow has been used to treat arthritis. 

Skin Conditions: Yarrow can be used topically as a poultice or ointment to promote wound healing, reduce inflammation and alleviate skin conditions such as rashes and eczema.

Expectorant: Yarrow helps to cure colds by helping the secretion of sputum by the air passages.

Promotes digestion: Yarrow can be taken internally as a tea or tincture for its benefits on digestion. It helps in the secretion of enzymes and digestive juice and increases appetite; both help in digestion.

Circulation: Yarrow can be taken internally as a tea or tincture to improve circulation.

Menstrual health: Yarrow can be taken internally as a tea or tincture for menstrual health and to ease menstrual cramps.

How to Take Yarrow

Yarrow can be used fresh, cooked or dried for medicinal purposes. Yarrow is commonly prepared as a tea, infusion, tincture or poultice.

The flowers and leaves can be made into an aromatic tea and the essential oils found in the flowering heads can be used as flavor for soft drinks.

Yarrow tea is made by steeping the dried flowers and leaves in hot water and is often consumed for its potential digestive and immune-boosting benefits.

Yarrow tincture is made by macerating the plant material in alcohol to extract its active constituents.

The leaves have a bitter flavor but are good in mixed salads and best used when they are young. The leaves may also be used as a preservative or flavoring for beer.

Yarrow Recommended Dosage

Recommended dosage and administration of yarrow for adults

Yarrow flowers or leaves preparations: 3g in one day as tea or infusion
Yarrow Extract (1:1, 25 ethanol): 1-4 ml three times in a day
Yarrow Dried herb: 2-4 g of infusion or capsules three times in a day
Yarrow Tincture (1:5; 40 ethanol): 2-4 three times in a day

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Herb Notes / Side Effects

It is recommended to use caution when this herb if used in large or frequent doses taken for a long period of time. This can possibly be harmful and may cause rashes or make the skin sensitive to sun.

Latin Name

Achillea millefolium

Common Names

Bloodwort, common yarrow, carpenter’s weed, knight’s milfoil, noble yarrow, old man’s pepper, nosebleed and staunchgrass.

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