Yarrow - Achillea millefolium:
This is a tall gangly plant, with yellow, white or pink flowers which bloom
in mid to late summer, which is the best time for harvesting it. Typically,
it is the flowers which are harvested. The leaves
are feather-like in appearance. An alternate name is milfoil.
Yarrow is a hardy plant, able to survive under a variety of growing
conditions. Originally an inhabitant of Europe, it is often found
growing wild on the roadsides. It prefers sun. It is useful as a
perennial groundcover in gardens.
I am not aware of any culinary uses. Yarrow is a bitter herb, but that hasn't
stopped some folks from using asoefetida as a culinary seasoning.
Medicinal Uses in Folklore:
Allegedly helpful with relieving headaches, toothaches, indigestion, and colds.
It may be useful as an antiseptic, and can promote blood clotting as well
as reducing blood pressure. Ingesting yarrow can induce sweating. Internally,
it is drunk as a tea; externally it may be applied as a poultice
on wounds. It has been used on piles. Made into a shampoo, folkore has
it that yarrow can prevent baldness.
Scanning the Scientific Literature:
*For some individuals, the ingredient, alpha-peroxyachifolid, found in extract
of yarrow, is a contact allergen. This allergen is found more prevalently in
the blossoms than in the stalks, and has been discerned in some market
*Yarrow extract (not purified) has demonstrated some bactericidal effect
against Staphlococcus aureus, a common bacteria. A topical
application of Yarrow seems to have some wound-healing properties. In an
experimental model of rodent diabetes, yarrow possessed marked
hypoglycemic and glycogen sparing properties which deserve further study.
David Potterton (rf Culpeper) states that cineol is at least one of the
active ingredients in yarrow. As of this writing, I have no further information
There are two basic ways of consulting the I Ching, the ancient Chinese
divinitory system. One involves the throwing of three coins to generate
the hexagrams; the second involves the use of yarrow stalks, which are
readily available in China, and which grow straight enough to be useful.
"The yarrow stalk method is time-consuming and complex to learn, but has
the distinct advantage of enforcing a silent purposefulness that enhances
one's relationship with The Book of Changes."
The plant's botanical name, Achillea, refers to the legend that
Achilles first used the healing power of this herb in treating soldiers
wounded at the battle of Troy.
Yarrow is reputed to have the ability to conjure up the devil. On the
other paw, it was also used in love charms.
According to Culpeper, this plant is under the governance of Venus.
- Beyerl, Paul. The Master Book of
- Culpeper's Color Herbal.
- Gibbons, Euell. Stalking the
- Rucker G. Neugebauer M. Kiefer A.
[Quantitative determination of alpha-peroxyachifolide in yarrow by HPLC
with amperometric detection]. [German] Pharmazie. 49(2-3):167-9, 1994 Feb-Mar.
- Molochko VA. Lastochkina TM. Krylov IA. Brangulis KA.
[The antistaphylococcal properties of plant extracts in relation to their
prospective use as therapeutic and prophylactic formulations for the
skin]. [Russian] Vestnik Dermatologii i Venerologii. (8):54-6, 1990.
- Molokovskii DS. Davydov VV. Tiulenev VV.
[The action of adaptogenic plant preparations in experimental alloxan
diabetes]. [Russian] Problemy Endokrinologii. 35(6):82-7, 1989 Nov-Dec.
- Taran DD. Saratikov AS. Prishchep TP. Vengerovskii AI.
[The wound-healing properties of the essential oils of yarrow and Yakut
wormwood and khamazulen in napalm burns]. [Russian] Voenno-Meditsinskii Zhurnal. (8):50-2, 1989 Aug.
- Van Order, Raymond.
I Ching. 1971, New American Library, New York.
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Last Updated: March 7, 1999.