Achillea millefolium

Plant family: Asteraceae aka Compositae (Daisy family)

Part used: flower head and/or leaf

Taste: bitter, aromatic

Historical commentary: The genus name is derived from that of the Greek god Achilles who was said to have staunched the bleeding wounds of soldiers with this herb. Its earliest reputation was as a hemostatic.


Digestive aid: relieves gas and bloating (carminative), improves appetite and alleviates gastric insufficiency and distress (stomachic), promotes the flow of bile (promotes digestion of fats; may help alleviate fullness and constipation). Note: in Europe, yarrow is mainly used as a digestive aid, often in combination with mint.

Hemostatic: The leaves are used to stop bleeding. The original application to treat military wounds has been replaced by treatment of excessive uterine bleeding.

Phlegm-resolving: The leaves are used for cough with excessive sputum (e.g., with common cold, bronchitis, chronic sputum production).

Antispasmodic: alleviates intestinal cramping; has been used as treatment for epilepsy.

Diaphoretic: In large doses (and when accompanied by physically warming the body with blankets or hot bath) helps induce sweating. Sweating therapy has been used as a means of treating acute ailments, such as common cold and influenza.

Modern findings: the herb has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions.

Dosage: 4.5 grams leaves, 3 grams flower; lesser amounts are adequate for digestive effects, larger amounts for hemostatic and diaphoretic effects.

Active constituents: Its alkaloids and tannins are probably responsible for much of the hemostatic effects; its flavonoids also help stop bleeding. The flavonoids may be responsible for antispasmodic effects, especially intestinal cramping due to allergy reaction to foods. The triterpenes and sesquiterpenes (aromatic essential oils) are probably responsible for much of the digestive and cholagogue effects and for helping resolve phlegm. European standards for yarrow flower are for a minimum of either 0.2% or 0.3% essential oils, depending on the country.

Cautions: During pregnancy, limit use to low dosage treatment of digestive disorders; fresh yarrow can cause contact dermatitis, the responsible agent has been identified as guaianolide-peroxides.

Künzle Formula: Tea for Digestion.