Have you heard of Yarrow before? In Greek mythology, Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War, is said to have used Yarrow to prevent and heal his wounds. This is why Yarrow’s many Latin names reflect the name Achilles – Achillea borealis, Achillea lanulosa, Achillea magna, Achillea millefolium, etc., etc.
A powerful name for such a powerful herb. It’s well deserved though and even recent studies have confirmed Yarrow’s traditional use. Yarrow has been used since ancient times by people and cultures around the world. In fact, Yarrow has been found in burial sites dating back close to 60,000 BC and chances are good that if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ve probably seen it before.
Unfortunately, Yarrow is considered a common weed these days. It grows freely in grasslands, chalklands, roadsides, and other sites where the ground has decent drainage. It’s not a weed though. Yarrow is a powerful herb closely related to chamomile and has a similar flavor to that of tarragon. You can consume it like tea, you can use as a spice or you can even prepare it and consume it like spinach if you needed or wanted to. But that’s not what I wanted to share with you. I’m all about sharing “not so well-known facts” and I think this fits just fine. So let me share with you just a few health benefits that this plant can offer you and your family.
Arguably its most famous attribute is its ability to heal wounds. Yarrow has been used for natural wound treatment for centuries. In its powdered form, it can be sprinkled on wounds to not only stop bleeding but also to dull pain. Additionally, it packs a fairly potent natural antiseptic that can help prevent wounds from getting infected. Check out the label of some of your favorite ointments; you may be surprised to find this herb as an ingredient.
Extracts of yarrow have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, herbal practitioners in China, Europe, and India use Yarrow to calm inflammation for a variety of health issues. Modern medicine supports this. Many peer-reviewed studies admit that Yarrow is a medicinal plant that is highly regarded for its medicinal activities, including its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cold and Flu
Children are always getting sick thanks to their friends at school. This means that parents are vulnerable too. The great news is that Yarrow helps to relieve fevers, shorten the duration of colds and flu, and helps you relax during your illness when you get them. Maybe this should be a teacher’s secret weapon.
Are you dealing with an infection in any part of the urinary system, the kidneys, bladder, or urethra? Add some Yarrow to your regimen. Yarrow is a urinary disinfectant with powerful antibacterial action and an astringent effect. Yarrow has even been used by traditional healers for Epididymitis because not only can it help reduce the infection, but it can also help decrease the swelling and pain. In fact, it is so powerful that studies have also shown that Yarrow may even be partially protective against Cyclophosphamide-induced reproductive toxicity.
Sometimes we just need a little extra help to fall asleep but we don’t want those powerful over-the-counter sleep aids. Well, get some Yarrow into your system and then turn off the light. Yarrow acts as a mild sedative without the hangover.
The Benefits Don’t Stop There
The list of uses appears to go on and on. Dr. Mercola has even listed some of his favorite uses for Yarrow. As stated on his website, Yarrow…
- Helps fights bacteria and viruses. Drinking a tea made from yarrow, elderflower, linden, boneset, peppermint, and ginger can promote sweating and help eradicate flu-causing viruses from your body.
- Promotes digestion and detoxification. Yarrow’s bitter components and fatty acids encourage proper bile secretion from the gallbladder, which can then improve digestion and keep gallstones from forming. It can also help stimulate the appetite.
- Works as a decongestant. Yarrow has a drying effect that may be effective against mucus formation caused by coughs and sinus infections.
- Allergies. Alleviates allergies caused by dust, mold, pollen, and dander.
- May be effective against skin conditions, such as eczema. Not only can it help stop wounds from bleeding, but it can be used as first-aid for burns and ulcers.
- Helps stop nosebleeds. Applying dried or powdered yarrow leaves inside nostrils can help stop the bleeding.
- Relieves pain from arthritis and rheumatism. It has anti-inflammatory properties that may alleviate pain brought on by these conditions.
- Helps relieve hemorrhoids. Drinking yarrow tea or tincture or placing a yarrow poultice or compress over the affected area may soothe this health problem.
- Can help regulate menstrual periods. It can either help stimulate delayed periods or suppress heavy flow.
Different Ways to Use It
There are several different ways you can use Yarrow. You can take it internally or you can use it topically. These are my favorite products.
While I enjoy all of these, my personal favorite is the capsules and I include some in my daily regimen. They are well priced and effective.
Yarrow is awesome, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Know that herbs can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. Always take herbs with care and preferably under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
Yarrow is a plant. So if you are allergic to plants in the aster family (chrysanthemums, daisies, and ragweed), you may be allergic to yarrow.
Yarrow may also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
Like any herb or supplement, there is a potential for side effects and interactions with medications. If you are on medication, ask a doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions, especially blood thinners, lithium, antacids, and medications for high blood pressure.
A Few More Yarrow Studies
Akkol EK, Koca U, Pesin I, Yilmazer D. Evaluation of the Wound Healing Potential of Achillea biebersteinii Afan. (Asteraceae) by in vivo Excision and Incision Models. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Jun 22.
Cavalcanti AM, Baggio CH, Freitas CS, Rieck L, de Sousa RS, Da Silva-Santos JE, et al. Safety and antiulcer efficacy studies of Achillea millefolium L. after chronic treatment in Wistar rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;107:277-84.
Dalsenter PR, Cavalcanti AM, Andrade AJ, Araujo SL, Marques MC. Reproductive evaluation of aqueous crude extract of Achillea millefolium L. (Asteraceae) in Wistar rats. Reprod Toxicol. 2004;18:819-23.
Khan AU, Gilani AH. Blood pressure lowering, cardiovascular inhibitory and bronchodilatory actions of Achillea millefolium. Phytother Res. 2011;25:577-83.
Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus, Inc.; 2002:369-371.
Stojanovic G, Radulovic N, Hashimoto T, Palic R. In vitro antimicrobial activity of extracts of four Achillea species: the composition of Achillea clavennae L. (Asteraceae) extract. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;101:185-90.
Check out my article titled, “Let’s Talk About Health Food – Consider This.”
Dr. Robertson is a health researcher and educator, not a physician. The information provided here is not medical advice, a professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or service to you or any other individual. The information provided is for educational and anecdotal purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation, or the advice of your physician or other healthcare providers. Dr. Robertson is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or additional information, services, or product you obtain or utilize. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 OR YOUR PHYSICIAN.