Achillea millefolium

Achillea millefolium

Synonyms

No documetation

Vernacular Name

Yarrow, Wound wort, Bloodwort, Milefolio, Milfoil, Noble Yarrow.

Description

Growing to a height of 1m, Achillea millefolium has pubescent leaves ranging from 5-20cm long, with the larger leaves located toward the bottom and middle of the plant. The diminutive flowers grow as a crown at the top of the plant from May to June, ranging from white to lavender in color. Thought to originate in Europe, A. millefolium has flourished in the North American grasslands due to its ability to withstand drought.

Origin / Habitat

Achillea millefolium, or Yarrow, is an herbaceous flowering plant found throughout the Northern hemisphere to an elevation of 3,500m.

Chemical Constituents

Chamazulene, camphor, beta-pinene, caryophyllene, alpa-pinene, isoartemisiaketon, sesquiterpnene lactones, polyynes, alkamids, flavonoids, betaine, beta-sitosterol and alpha-amyrin. (2),(3),(4)

Plant Part Used

Flowers and plant tops. (6)

Traditional Use

A. millefolium has a great variety of usages in Native American medicine.  Commonly, A. millefolium is used to treat respiratory disorders, minor infections such as cold and flu, gastrointestinal and various blood disorders.

As an analgesic, A. millefolium has been used by numerous Native American tribes across the North American continent. Commonly, A. millefolium is used to treat headache by the Algonquin, Chippewa, Cree, Gosiute, Iroquois, Mendocino, Okanagan-Colville, and the Paiute tribes.(5) The most common application of A. millefolium as a treatment for headaches comes as an infusion, but some tribes, namely the Algonquin and Chippewa, use crushed leaves as snuff; or they inhale the steam of a decoction, respectively, to achieve the same goal.(5) In addition to treatment of headache, an infusion of A. millefolium leaves and flowers was used by tribes such as the Cheyenne to treat any type of internal pain, including pain caused by influenza.(6)

Another of the most common uses of the herb A. millefolium is as a blood tonic or a blood purifier and as an agent to treat any type of internal hemorrhaging such as bloody stools and diarrhea, blood in the urine and general bloody discharges from the body.(7)

A. millefolium  has traditionally been used to treat many respiratory disorders including but not limited to cold and flu. The Cherokee smoked the dried leaves to alleviate respiratory catarrh.(7) Both the Cheyenne (6) and the Yuki (8) tribes used an infusion to promote general respiratory health. The Hesquiat tribe drank the juice of chewed leaves to quell coughing, while the Paiute tribe achieved the same effect by using soaked leaves.(5) For colds, an infusion was generally given.

In traditional Native American medical systems, A. millefolium was frequently used to assist in childbirth.  The Blackfoot, Clallam, and the Makah use different applications of A. millefolium to ease labor pains and reduce the risk of injury during childbirth. While the Makah chewed the raw leaves during childbirth, the Blackfoot and Clallam used an infusion.(5)

Dosage

4.5 grams of crude dried herb daily.

Tea may be prepared using 5 to 10 grams of dried A. millefolium in 250ml boiling water steeped for 15 minutes with a daily dosage of three cups per day. (1)

Pharmacology

Pre-clinical

Pre-clinical studies support the use of A. millefolium as an antispasmodic and have recognized the flavonoids as the constituents responsible for this action.(9)

The traditional use of A. millefolium as an anti-inflammatory agent has been supported in laboratory settings indicating its potential use as a non steroidal anti-inflammatory agent.(10) An in vitro study demonstrated that the herb may act as a protease inhibitor.(11)

An in vitro study examined the anti-microbial activity of A. millefolium against several strains of bacteria and two fungal strains. Staphylococcus aureus was found to be the most sensitive to the extract which compared favorably to several penicillin derivatives.(12)

In an animal model, isolated chemical constituents of A. millefolium extract were found to increase bile flow.(13) A separate laboratory analysis indicated that dicaffeoylquinic acids were responsible for this action.(10)

 

Clinical

No documetation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Not to be used in conjunction with prescription medications for chronic bowel disease without consulting a healthcare professional.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Animal studies indicate that A. millefolium is generally safe for long-term use.(14)

Allergic reactions sometimes occur during ongoing therapy with A. millefolium.(15),(16) This is thought to be due to guaianolides and some sesquiterpene lactones.

Not to be used with children.

Pregnancy

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.(19),(20)

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

Contact dermatitis has occurred with exposure to A. millefolium.(18)

Read More

  1) Essential Oil

  2) Western Herb

References

  1. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The complete commission E monographs: therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998;233-234.
  2. Benetis R. Variability of phenolic compounds in flowers of Achillea millefolium wild populations in Lithuania. Medicina (Kaunas). 2008;44(10):775-781.
  3. Agnihotri VK. Chemical variability in the essential oil components of Achillea millefolium agg. From different Himalayan habitats (India). Planta Med. Mar 2005;71(3):280-283.
  4. Chandler RF. Herbal remedies of the Maritime Indians: sterols and triterpenes of Achillea millefolium L. (Yarrow). J Pharm Sci. Jun 1982;71(6):690-693.
  5. Moerman DE. Native American Ethnobotany. Portland OR: Timber Press; 2009.
  6. Hart, Jeffrey A. The ethnobotany of the Northern Cheyenne Indians of Montana. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1981;4(1-55):17.
  7. Hamel, Paul B, Mary U. Cherokee plants and their uses - a 400 year history. Sylva, N.C; Herald Publishing Co: 1975. p. 61-63.
  8. Curtin LSM. Some plants used by the Yuki Indians. Food Plants. 1957;31(85-94):47.
  9. Benedek B. Achillea millefolium L. s.l. revisited: recent findings confirm the traditional use. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2007;157(13-14):312-314.
  10. Choudhary MI. Inhibitory effect of lactone fractions and individual components from three species of the Achillea millefolium complex of Bulgarian origin on the human neutrophils respiratory burst activity. Nat Prod Res. 2007 Sep;21(11):1032-1036.
  11. Benedek B. Achillea millefolium L. s.l. - is the anti-inflammatory activity mediated by protease inhibition? J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Sep 5;113(2):312-317.
  12. Tajik D. In vitro assessment of antimicrobial efficacy of alcoholic extract of Achillea Millefolium in comparison with penicillin. J Animal Vet Adv. 2008;7(4):508-511.
  13. Benedek B. Choleretic effects of yarrow (Achillea millefolium s.l.) in the isolated perfused rat liver. Phytomedicine. 2009;13(9):702-706.
  14. Cavalcanti AM. Safety and antiulcer efficacy studies of Achillea millefolium L. after chronic treatment in Wistar rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Sep 19;107(2):277-284.
  15. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American herbal products association's botanical safety handbook. Boca Raton, FL; CRC Press: 1997. 3 p.
  16. Final report on the safety assessment of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Extract. Int J Toxicol. 2001;20(2):79-84.
  17. Hausen BM. Alpha-peroxyachifolid and other new sensitizing sesquiterpene lactones from yarrow (Achillea millefolium L., compositae). Contact Dermatitis. 1991 Apr;24(4):274-280.
  18. Rücker G. Peroxides as plant constituents. 8. Guaianolide-peroxides from yarrow, Achillea millefolium L., a soluble component causing yarrow dermatitis. Arch Pharm (Weinheim). 1991 Dec;324(12):979-981.
  19. Boswell-Ruys CL. Preliminary screening study of reproductive outcomes after exposure to yarrow in the pregnant rat. Birth Defects Res B Dev Reprod Toxicol. 2003 Oct;68(5):416-420.
  20. McGuffin M. et al. Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press; 2005.

1.     Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The complete commission E monographs: therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998;233-234.

 

2.     Benetis R. Variability of phenolic compounds in flowers of Achillea millefolium wild populations in Lithuania. Medicina (Kaunas). 2008;44(10):775-781.

 

3.     Agnihotri VK. Chemical variability in the essential oil components of Achillea millefolium agg. From different Himalayan habitats (India). Planta Med. Mar 2005;71(3):280-283.

 

4.     Chandler RF. Herbal remedies of the Maritime Indians: sterols and triterpenes of Achillea millefolium L. (Yarrow). J Pharm Sci. Jun 1982;71(6):690-693.

 

5.     Moerman DE. Native American Ethnobotany. Portland OR: Timber Press; 2009.

 

6.     Hart, Jeffrey A. The ethnobotany of the Northern Cheyenne Indians of Montana. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1981;4(1-55):17.

 

7.     Hamel, Paul B, Mary U. Cherokee plants and their uses - a 400 year history. Sylva, N.C; Herald Publishing Co: 1975. p. 61-63.

 

8.     Curtin LSM. Some plants used by the Yuki Indians. Food Plants. 1957;31(85-94):47.

 

9.     Benedek B. Achillea millefolium L. s.l. revisited: recent findings confirm the traditional use. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2007;157(13-14):312-314.

 

10.  Choudhary MI. Inhibitory effect of lactone fractions and individual components from three species of the Achillea millefolium complex of Bulgarian origin on the human neutrophils respiratory burst activity. Nat Prod Res. 2007 Sep;21(11):1032-1036.

 

11.  Benedek B. Achillea millefolium L. s.l. - is the anti-inflammatory activity mediated by protease inhibition? J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Sep 5;113(2):312-317.

 

12.  Tajik D. In vitro assessment of antimicrobial efficacy of alcoholic extract of Achillea Millefolium in comparison with penicillin. J Animal Vet Adv. 2008;7(4):508-511.

 

13.  Benedek B. Choleretic effects of yarrow (Achillea millefolium s.l.) in the isolated perfused rat liver. Phytomedicine. 2009;13(9):702-706.

 

14.  Cavalcanti AM. Safety and antiulcer efficacy studies of Achillea millefolium L. after chronic treatment in Wistar rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Sep 19;107(2):277-284.

 

15.  McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American herbal products association's botanical safety handbook. Boca Raton, FL; CRC Press: 1997. 3 p.

 

16.  Final report on the safety assessment of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Extract. Int J Toxicol. 2001;20(2):79-84.

 

17.  Hausen BM. Alpha-peroxyachifolid and other new sensitizing sesquiterpene lactones from yarrow (Achillea millefolium L., compositae). Contact Dermatitis. 1991 Apr;24(4):274-280.

 

18.  Rücker G. Peroxides as plant constituents. 8. Guaianolide-peroxides from yarrow, Achillea millefolium L., a soluble component causing yarrow dermatitis. Arch Pharm (Weinheim). 1991 Dec;324(12):979-981.

 

19.  Boswell-Ruys CL. Preliminary screening study of reproductive outcomes after exposure to yarrow in the pregnant rat. Birth Defects Res B Dev Reprod Toxicol. 2003 Oct;68(5):416-420.

 

McGuffin M. et al. Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press; 2005.