The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Yarrow

Scientific Names

Yarrow

  • Achillea millefolium L.
  • Compositae
  • Composite family

Common Names

  • Bloodwort
  • Gandana (Sanskrit name)
  • I-chi-kao (Chinese name)
  • Ladies’ mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)
  • Milfoil
  • Millifolium
  • Noble yarrow
  • Nosebleed
  • Old man’s pepper
  • Sanguinary
  • Soldier’s woundwort
  • Stanchgrass
  • Thousand leaf
  • Thousand leal
  • Thousand seal

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Parts Usually Used

Whole plant in flower, dried in the shade. (usually leaves and flowers)
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Yarrow is a hardy, weedy perennial, grows 8-18 inches (20-45 cm), sometimes to 24 inches (60 cm), tall. If cultivated and fertilized, can grow to 5 feet. It is identifiable in part by the finely divided leaves (millefolium = of a thousand leaves) and the erect flowering stalk with the white or reddish composite flowers that are arranged in panicled false umbels, and in part by its aromatic scent, which is released when the leaves and flowers are crushed. Borne in large, flat, dense clusters 6 inches in diameter, the flowers are on top of the erect stems. Each flower head resembles a single flower but has five ray florets and a central disk. Flowers in summer to early fall. Seeds have small wings.

It has soft, greyish, feathery, ethereal-looking leaves. The flowers are usually white but hybrids of today come in lavenders, reds, lemon-yellow and pinks. Varieties: A tomentosa, A. filipendulina, A decolorans. The white blooming A. millefolium is the most cultivated for medicinal use.

Raising yarrow from seed is possible, but quite involved. Collect a few plants from the roadside, etc., and set them 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) apart in normal garden soil in a sunny location. Everything else will take care of itself, as long as the area has no standing water. Zones 3-10. Not heat tolerant.

Other varieties: Achillea lanulosa; Shoshone name “Pannonzia”, the whole plant was boiled and applied as a poultice for felon. Tea from the root for gas pains (at Owyhee, Nevada).
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Where Found

Native to Europe, now commonly found growing wild in North America (except far north). Yarrow is a familiar plant in meadows and fields, along the sides of country lanes, roadsides, on embankments, and in landfills and garbage dumps.
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Medicinal Properties

Astringent, antispasmodic, tonic, promotes sweating, styptic, hemostatic, alterative, diuretic, vulnerary, diaphoretic, carminitive, and stomachic
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Biochemical Information

Yarrow yields a volatile oil containing azulene, also gum, tannin, resin, chlorides of calcium and potassium, and various salts such as nitrates, malates, and phosphorus, cineol and proaculene, achilleine (which is the bitter component of the herb), and vitamin C. Over a 100 biologically active compounds have been identified from yarrow.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Yarrow has been used medicinally for centuries. Its ancient pedigree is clear from its generic name, Achillea: the Greek hero Achilles was taught by the centaur Chiron to use yarrow to heal wounded soldiers at Troy during the Trojan War. The noble and valiant Achilles, whose acts were described by Homer, is said to have used yarrow to cure the wounds and sores of Telephus, the son of Hercules. Today yarrow is grown for its lovely, flat-headed flower clusters and interesting foliage.

This herb has a long history of association with the occult and mystical. The stalks are used for divining the Chinese I Ching.

Yarrow was one of the witch herbs, and it was believed that carrying it at weddings guaranteed seven years of married bliss. (Then the seven-year itch probably set in?)
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Uses

Used since antiquity for headaches, fevers (drink hot yarrow tea), colds, and influenza. Helps curb diarrhea, dysentery, anemia, gas, diabetes, Bright’s disease, palpitations and excessive menstruation. Treatment for gastrointestinal and gallbladder complaints, gonorrhea, toothache (chew the leaves), lack of appetite, and catarrhs of the digestive system, hyperacidity, nervousness, nosebleed, bleeding from the lungs, anorexia, enteritis, stomach ulcers, hemoptysis, gastritis, high blood pressure, styptic, and sleep disturbances, produces a feeling of peace and relaxation for women in the menopause, and is a tonic. Yarrow, either as a tea or as a bath additive, has proved helpful in allaying rheumatic pain and control of high blood pressure. Used for smallpox, typhoid fever, measles, malaria (Yarrow is more effective than quinine), and chickenpox to relieve itching.

In antiquity, and during the Middle Ages, yarrow was used primarily to treat old wounds. As a wash, it can be used to stop bleeding from piles, nosebleeds, and cuts , and to soothe sores and bruises.

Used as an insect repellent for Japanese beetles, ants and flies. Plant as a border to the garden.
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Formulas or Dosages

For medicinal purposes, all the flowering parts above ground are used, everything except the lower, lignified parts of the plant. Cut it up to dry in the open air, then cut it into small pieces and store it in containers that can be tightly closed, protected from light
and dampness.

One or two cups of tea made from the leaves or blossoms is reputed to stop nausea within minutes.

Tea: steep 1 heaping tsp. in 1 cup boiling water for 30 minutes. Drink 3 or 4 cups per day an hour before meals and upon retiring. It must be warm to be effective.

Take one wineglassful night and morning of a standard infusion from the leaves and occasional flowers.
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Warning

Yarrow interferes with the absorption of iron and other minerals.

Small numbers of cases of allergic reactions have been reported upon contact with the plant; their skin turned red and an itchy rash developed. Such people also cannot tolerate yarrow tea or yarrow baths. Discontinue the treatment at once if problems of this kind appear. Then the allergic reaction will disappear quickly. Avoid large doses in pregnancy because the herb is a uterine stimulant.

Large or frequent doses taken over a long period may be potentially harmful. Contains thujone, considered toxic. Consult with the doctor.
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Bibliography

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! An Instant Guide to Medicinal Plants, by Pamela Forey and Ruth Lindsay, Crescent Books (January 27, 1992).

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

Buy It! Country Home Book of Herbs, Meredith Books, Editorial Dept. RW240, 1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023, copyright 1994

Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

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