Facts and benefits of Yarrow

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Facts and benefits of Yarrow

Yarrow Quick Facts
Name: Yarrow
Scientific Name: Hamamelis virginiana
Origin Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America
Shapes Nut-like fruit called achene which contains one seed
Taste Sweet, slight bitter, pungent and Astrigent
Health benefits Helpful for High Blood Pressure and Asthma and Relieves Asthma Symptoms
Achillea millefolium, or yarrow is an aromatic perennial plant of the aster or Asteraceae (Compositae) family and is closely related to chrysanthemums and chamomile. The herb originates from the northern hemisphere (Europe, Asia and North America), but it can be found all over the world today.  The yarrow plant carries several other common names like common yarrow, milenrama, milfoil, western yarrow, bloodwort, carpenter’s weed, plumajillo, Boreal yarrow, California yarrow, Giant yarrow, Coast yarrow, Pacific yarrow, devil’s nettle, gordaldo, nosebleed plant, old man’s pepper, old man’s mustard,  sanguinary, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf and thousand-seal, knight’s milfoil, noble yarrow, staunchgrass, soldier’s woundwort, devil’s plaything, bad man’s plaything, yarroway, herb militaris, field hop, millefolium, ladies’mantle, gandana, i-chi-kao and gearwe, yerw. 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. Plant is named after Greek’s hero Achilles, who used yarrow to treat battle wounds of his soldiers. Yarrow is also known as carpenter’s weed because carpenters often use it to stop the bleeding from the wounds and cuts that are unavoidable part of their work.

Yarrow is mainly cultivated because of its healing properties and as an ornamental plant. Other than that, yarrow is beneficial in gardening and it can be used to prevent erosion. The herb has been introduced as a feed for livestock in places like New Zealand and Australia. The whole plant is more or less hairy, with white, silky appressed hairs. This herb plant was first used by ancient Greeks over 3,000 years ago for treating external wounds on the skin. Flowers and leaves of yarrow were eaten and also made into a tea-like drink. The fresh leaves were chewed on to relieve tooth aches. Scientists have recognized yarrow for its benefits relating to almost every organ in the body.

Plant Description

Yarrow is an erect herbaceous aromatic, perennial plant that grows about 11 to 40 inches (30-100 cm) in height. The plant is found growing in mesic to dry prairies, pastures, fallow fields, grassy waste areas, edges of railway tracks, lawns, grassy areas, old fields, along fence lines, roadsides and edges of paths, yards, or hedges. Disturbed areas are also preferred. It does well in a nutrient poor soil as long as it is well-drained. Also grows well in sandy or salty soils, and damp woodlands with clay soils. The herb consists of one to several stems that are normally angular and rough.

 Leaves

Leaves are evenly distributed along the stem, with the leaves near the middle and bottom of the stem being the largest. The leaves have varying degrees of hairiness (pubescence). The leaves are 5–20 cm long, bipinnate or tripinnate, almost feathery, and arranged spirally on the stems. The leaves are cauline, and more or less clasping. Leaves are covered with tiny hairs.

Flower & Fruit

Inflorescence has 4 to 9 phyllaries and contains ray and disk flowers which are white to pink. The generally 3 to 8 ray flowers are ovate to round. Disk flowers range from 15 to 40. The inflorescence is produced in a flat-topped cluster. Flowers are about a quarter-inch in diameter, with four to six, but generally five ray flowers with three teeth at their tip. The ray flowers are usually wider than they are long and surround many little disk-like flowers. Flowering normally takes place from Jun to August. The herb consists of nut-like fruit called achene which contains one seed. 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.

Health benefits of Yarrow

Yarrow is perennial herb native to the roadsides and meadows of Europe and America. It is considered by its white or lavender clusters of flowers and highly segmented leaves. Flower has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of health conditions ranging from toothache to menstrual cramps. Listed below are few of the health benefits of using yarrow

1. Helpful for High Blood Pressure and Asthma

Several scientific research has evaluated achillea millefolium‘s hypotensive, vasodilatory and bronchodilatory activities. In other words, the herb has the ability to lower high blood pressure, relax blood vessels and improve breathing. Yarrow’s effects on the study’s animal subjects backed up the medicinal use in hyperactive cardiovascular and airway disorders like high blood pressure and asthma.(1)

2. Treats Mastitis

Yarrow is quite helpful in alleviating the symptoms of mastitis. Mastitis is actually a breast infection that mostly occurs among women who are breast-feeding. When you have mastitis, it’s a smart idea to alternate between warm and cold compresses since cold helps relieve pain while warmth increases circulation.

In addition, natural herbs like yarrow consist of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Yarrow has been found to be helpful for women suffering from mastitis. Specifically, leaf poultices provide almost rapid pain relief and help heal sore, cracked nipples. (2)

3. Relieves Asthma Symptoms

Yarrow has the ability to ease the circulation system actually also works the same way in the respiration system. That means, yarrow can also be used to relieve the symptoms of asthma. That is because yarrow has this special ability called “bronchodilatory” which basically means that it can help relaxing the bronchi and easing the inflammation along the airways. Using yarrow can help relieving from asthma because the inflammation and tension in the airways are few main causes of asthma symptoms.

4. Gastrointestinal Benefits

The antispasmodic activity of yarrow makes it useful for unwanted gastrointestinal concerns like diarrhea, flatulence and cramping. Animal research has shown that it can reduce smooth muscle spasms that contribute to GI complaints.  When taken internally, the antispasmodic ability is most likely due to the plant’s flavonoid fractions.(3)

5. Relieve the Symptoms of Inflammation

Some of the problems suffered by our internal organs are caused by inflammations. Take for example, sore throat, stomachache, and some respiratory conditions. Since a long time ago, yarrow has been used in many countries as a traditional medicine to treat those inflammation symptoms. That is because the extracts of yarrow are said to contain many anti-inflammatory properties.

6. Menstruation Problems

Besides stopping bleeding, yarrow can also be used to urge bleeding in certain situations. There’s this condition called amenorrhea, when menstruation is absent because of abnormal causes. Combined with herbs such as rue, motherwort, and partridge berry, yarrow is categorized as emenagogue. Emmenagogue can be described as some herbs whose ability is stimulating blood flow in the pelvic area, including the uterus, which in turn encourage blood flow in menstruation period. However, albeit being practiced for centuries already, there is no research present to back up the claim on this benefit.

7. Good Cure for Cold

Consuming yarrow as a tea can do wonder to your body. It is even known to be the second greatest benefit of yarrow, the first being its wound-healing ability. It is believed that drinking tea made of yarrow can induce more perspiration. That is because yarrow can help dilating the pores and blood vessels under the skin, which in turn can help our bodies getting rid of some toxins along with the sweat. As we all know, the most common and also proven traditional way to cure cold is to break some sweat, thus, drinking yarrow tea can help relieving and even curing the common cold.

8. Reduces Scarring

It is an ingredient prized by the cosmetic industry as it has excellent scar removal properties. It not only speeds up the healing process, but also reduces the appearance of scars. There are many ways yarrow can be used to heal scars, either by oral consumption or by using it in your skincare routines. Its anti-inflammatory properties also calm the irritation and redness surrounding the wounds.

9. Treatment for Skin Problems

Besides being used on wounds and also being drunk as internal medicine, yarrow can also be used as ointment for skins, mainly to treat some skin problems. For example, eczema, which is a form of skin inflammation. Using yarrow as an ointment can pacify the inflamed skin and for the case of opened wounds, can also quicken the recovery of the tissues by killing off the bacteria or other microbes that might cause infections.

Traditional Uses and benefits of Yarrow

  • Herb is purported to be a diaphoretic, astringent, tonic, stimulant and mild aromatic.
  • Plant also has a long history as a powerful ‘healing herb’ used topically for wounds, cuts and abrasions.
  • Leaves encourage clotting, so it can be used fresh for nosebleeds.
  • Aerial parts of the plant are used for phlegm conditions, as a bitter digestive tonic to encourage bile flow, and as a diuretic.
  • Aerial parts act as a tonic for the blood, stimulate the circulation, and can be used for high blood pressure; it is also useful in menstrual disorders, and as an effective sweating remedy to bring down fevers.
  • Navajo considered it to be a “life medicine”, chewed it for toothaches, and poured an infusion into ears for earaches.
  • Miwok in California used the plant as an analgesic and head cold remedy.
  • Pawnee used the stalk for pain relief.
  • Chippewa used the leaves for headaches by inhaling it in a steam.
  • They chewed the roots and applied the saliva to their appendages as a stimulant.
  • Cherokee drank a tea of common yarrow to reduce fever and aid in restful sleep.
  • Poultice of the pulverized plant is mixed with water and applied to burns.
  • It is used in the treatment of a very wide range of disorders but is particularly valuable for treating wounds, stopping the flow of blood, treating colds, fevers, kidney diseases, menstrual pain etc.
  • Herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, mildly aromatic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, emenagogue, odontalgic, stimulant, bitter tonic, vasodilator and vulnerary.
  • Fresh leaf can be applied direct to an aching tooth in order to relieve the pain.
  • It has been used to relieve GI ailments, for cerebral and coronary thromboses, to lower high blood pressure, to improve circulation, and to tone varicose veins.
  • Decoction of the whole plant is used for bleeding piles, and is good for kidney disorders.
  • It has cooling, astringent, aromatic and healing effect on the body.
  • Drinking yarrow powder in warm wine heals wounds caused by knife or sharp objects.
  • Topical application of yarrow provides relief from cuts, scratches, ulcers and sores.
  • It cleans the wounds and reduces pain related to it.
  • Chewing fresh yarrow leaves daily cures gum and toothache problems.
  • It increases blood circulation to the skin.
  • It is a good herbal remedy for treating fever.
  • Yarrow and Mint tea alleviates allergic symptoms.
  • It regulates blood pressure and prevents the formation of blood clots.
  • It tones blood vessels and widens the capillaries.
  • It is effective in curing Hemorrhoids and bleeding from the nose.
  • It regulates menstrual cycles and provides relief from menstrual cramps and treats heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Its leaves are used to treats Hemorrhages.
  • It alleviates the complaints of the gallbladder.
  • It helps to cure Arthritis, gout and Rheumatism and is known to reduce pitta.
  • It is a good herbal remedy for treating breast cancer and sore nipples.
  • It is widely used in treating excessive or suppressed discharge of Lochia post child birth.
  • It cures inflammation and infection of the urinary tract.
  • It prevents the formation of Kidney stones.
  • It is used with spices to clear phlegm accumulation.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Yarrow

  • Menstrual Disorders: Hot infusion of yarrow leaves is good for menstrual disorders.
  • Flatulence: Powder the leaves and flower heads of Yarrow. Take 1 tsp with luke warm water twice a day.
  • Toothache: Apply the poultice. Take a tsp of yarrow. Add hot water to it. Drain the liquid. Make a paste. Wrap in a piece of gauze. Put it on the tooth.
  • Bed wetting: Prepare a tea of dried yarrow herb. Drink twice a day. OR Have a Yarrow Extract.
  • Chicken Pox: Prepare a tea made from yarrow leaves. Give this to the patients daily. It is very effective in early stages of Chicken pox as it break out more easily.
  • Diaphoretic: Prepare leaf or flower infusion of Yarrow. Drink 30 ml of it when bearable hot.
  • Diuretic: Make an infusion with leaves and flowers of Yarrow. Strain and cool. Drink 20 ml once a day.
  • Small Pox: Take a cup of yarrow tea. Start taking it as symptoms reflects in early stages.
  • Hematoma: Prepare a decoction of Yarrow flower. Wet the affected area with this decoction.
  • Cold: Boil some yarrow leaves to make a tea. Drink it hot to get relief in winter colds and flu.
  • Fever: Take 1 to 2 tsp of dried yarrow leaves. Infuse the dried herb in a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes. Strain the herb. Have it warm. Repeat three times a day.
  • Wounds: Add ½ tsp of yarrow leaves powder in a cup of water daily. OR Take 2 tbsp of dried yarrow leaves. Add 2 to 3 tbsp of hot water in it. Let the leaves softens and then mash it to form a thick paste. Let it cool a bit. Spread the paste directly on the wounds. Cover it with a bandage. Leave it for an hour. Wash off. Repeat it daily for a week.
  • Bronchiectasis: Take 1 tsp of yarrow flowers. Place it in your mouth under the tongue for 1-2 minutes and then chew it like gum. Consume it thrice daily.
  • Metrorrhagia: Extract the juice of Yarrow leaves by grinding and squeezing them. Consume half cup of the juice divided into morning and evening.
  • Menses Scanty: Yarrow enhances the functions of the uterus and aids in menstrual cycles. Prepare a tea of dried yarrow and have it once a day.
  • Endometriosis: Make an infusion of yarrow leaves and flower. Drink it 2 times in a day. OR take 10 drops of Mother Tincture 2 times a day.
  • Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Make an infusion of yarrow leaves. Drink it 2 times in a day. It is good for menstrual disorders.
  • Uterine Fibroids: It improves the blood circulation to the reproductive organs. It stimulates the hormonal growth and promotes a good menstrual cycle. Drink infusion of Yarrow leaves 2 times a day.
  • Aphrodisiac: Prepare a decoction of Yarrow stem in one cup of water. Strain and drink it.
  • Ovarian Cyst: Have a cup of Yarrow tea every day. OR Yarrow tincture is also available with names of Millefolium Achillea. Take 10 drops in a glass of water 2 times in a day.
  • Water Retention: Boil Dandelion leaves, couch grass leaves and yarrow flowers for 5 minutes. Take it twice a day.
  • Flu: Take Elder, peppermint, yarrow leaves in equal amount. Boil it for 10-15 minutes. Add Cayenne, cinnamon, ginger to taste. Drink it hot.
  • Small Pox: Prepare a mixture of Yarrow, Indian Posy and Cypripedium Pubescens by taking them in equal amount. Boil it in one liter of water. Sponge the body with this water.
  • Chest Congestion: Mix Half tbsp of dried yarrow and golden seal. Boil in a cup of water for 5-7 minutes. Drink warm. It works as a good decongestant.

Culinary Uses

  • In the middle Ages, yarrow was part of an herbal mixture known as gruit used in the flavoring of beer prior to the use of hops.
  • Flowers and leaves are used in making some liquors and bitters.
  • Younger leaves are said to be a pleasant leaf vegetable when cooked like spinach, or in a soup.
  • Leaves can also be dried and used as a herb in cooking.
  • Leaves are cooked raw or cooked.
  • Fresh, young leaves and flowers make an acceptable addition to mixed salads and are best used when young.
  • Leaves are used as a hop-substitute for flavoring and as a preservative for beer etc.
  • An aromatic tea is made from the flowers and leaves.
  • An essential oil from the flowering heads is used as a flavoring for soft drinks.
  • Dried or fresh herb can be substituted for tarragon in recipes.
  • Leaves were prepared and consumed like spinach.
  • Yarrow was used as an ingredient of soups.

Homemade Yarrow Tea Recipe

Flowers, leaves and stems can be used to make a medicinal tea. You can use either the fresh or dried herb. Yarrow tea can taste bitter so you can use honey to take the edge off if needed. Many tea recipes include lemon, which gives a nice boost of vitamin C.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon dried yarrow or 3 fresh leaves
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 1 lemon slice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Steep yarrow in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove leaves if desired.
  2. Add honey and/or lemon juice if desired.
  3. Stir.

Other Facts

  • Growing plant repels beetles, ants and flies.
  • Plant has been burnt in order to ward off mosquitoes.
  • A liquid plant feed can be made from the leaves.
  • Fragrant seeds have been used to impart a pleasant smell indoors.
  • An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used medicinally.
  • Leaves have been used as a cosmetic cleanser for greasy skin.
  • Yellow and green dyes are obtained from the flowers.
  • Good ground cover plant, spreading quickly by its roots.
  • Whole plant is more or less hairy, with white, silky appressed hairs.
  • Native Americans called it chipmunk tail or squirrel tail.
  • Herb has a place in your kitchen and can be used in place of tarragon in recipes.
  • Yarrow may even alters the taste of cow’s milk (it becomes bitter) when cow eats too much yarrow.
  • Yarrow is beneficial for the gardeners because it improves quality of the soil and repeals certain types of insects (pests).

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) Side Effects and Warnings

Caution should be exercised when using yarrow if the person has an allergy to ragweed. Avoid use if there are gallstones present. An allergic skin rash or skin sensitivity to light may be caused by extended use of yarrow whether it is being used medicinally or in the diet. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking yarrow.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Yarrow is likely unsafe when taken by mouth during pregnancy as it can affect the menstrual cycle and might cause miscarriage.

Yarrow use may also alter estrogen activity. Women who experience heavy periods or who have pelvic inflammatory disease should not use yarrow. Even though yarrow is used to treat wounds, it still should not be used to treat large, deep, or infected wounds. The actual leaves of the yarrow plant should never be used alone internally.

Bleeding disorder: Yarrow might slow blood clotting. In theory, taking yarrow might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Surgery: Yarrow might slow blood clotting so there is a concern that it might increase bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking yarrow at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

References:

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/record/gcc-140712

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=35423#null

https://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/126731/

http://www.hear.org/pier/species/achillea_millefolium.htm

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxonomydetail.aspx?id=1270

http://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Achillea+millefolium

https://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/2636

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b282

http://www.floracatalana.net/achillea-millefolium-l

http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/yarrow

https://www.drugs.com/npc/yarrow.html

https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/y/yarrow02.html

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=acmi2

https://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_acmi2.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achillea_millefolium

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