Achillea millefolium Common name: Yarrow
Part used: Aerial
Constituents: Volatile oil (borneol, camphor, thujone, chamazulene, azulene, linalool, limonene, cineole, sesquiterpene lactones), tannins (condensed and hydrolyzable), flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, rutin), alkaloids (achilletin, betonicine, stachydrine, trigonelline), acids (caffeic, salicylic, succinic), amino acids, nutrients (ascorbic acid, folic acid), cyanogenetic compounds, sugars, coumarins, furanocoumarins, bitter (achillein), stigma/sito/erythrosterin, alkamides
Actions: Anti-hemorrhagic, anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic, antiseptic, astringent carminative, diaphoretic, hemostatic, hypotensive, peripheral vasodilator, bitter tonic, hepatic, choleretic, emmenagogue, diuretic, vulnerary, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic
Medical uses: One of the best diaphoretic herbs and is a standard remedy for aiding the body to deal with fevers. A peripheral circulatory stimulant, it is utilized in any febrile condition, including acute, chronic and recovery phases and will increase the body’s sensitivity to adrenaline. It lowers blood pressure due to dilation of peripheral vessels. It stimulates digestion and tones the blood vessels, and is specific for thrombotic conditions with hypertension. As a urinary antiseptic it is indicated in infections such as cystitis. Achillea is both a relaxant and tonifying agent for the smooth muscle of the pelvic viscera. Used externally it will aid in the healing of wounds. It is astringent and used as a hemostatic in a variety of bleeding conditions associated with mucous membranes (wounds/ulcers)
Pharmacy: Infusion: 1-2 tsp/cup, infuse 15 min, TID or hourly in fevers. Tincture: (1:5, 25%), 2-4 ml TID. Dried herb: 2-4g, TID.
Contraindications: Avoid during the first trimester of pregnancy as it has a mild uterine stimulant effect. Long-term use (months) may lead to photosensitivity and that sensitive individuals may develop a rash. The essential oil is contraindicated in pregnancy due to its emmenogogue and abortifacient effects. Increases gut motility, thus may theoretically decrease absorption of drugs if taken simultaneously.
Toxicity: The volatile oil contains thujone which is a neurotoxic compound. Used with caution. High doses may cause headaches and photosensitivity.
Contraindications: Allergy to Asteraceae family, Pregnancy.
Interactions: None known.
Lininger et al, Healthnotes: Clinical Essentials, Herb Monographs. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA. 2001.
Mark Blumenthal et al (eds), Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs, American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas, 2000, pp.420-1
Y. Tozyo et al, “Novel Antitumor Sesquiterpenoids in Achillea millefolium,” Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther, Vol 35, Num 7, Jul 1997, pp. 296-301