Yarrow or Achillea millefolium has some serious bragging rights. According to legend, it takes its name from Achilles – the Greek hero who fought in the Trojan War used this very herb to treat the wounds of his soldiers! A prolific plant found in Asia, Europe, and North America, yarrow contains bioactive compounds like alkamides and sesquiterpene lactones which are responsible for many of its beneficial effects. The flowers, stems, and leaves of yarrow are all used medicinally.1 Let’s take a look at the ways in which this herb can benefit your health:
1. Relieves Menstrual Cramps
Yarrow tea has traditionally been used to ease menstrual cramps. It helps by relaxing smooth muscles in your uterus.2 To make this healing tea, steep 2 to 3 teaspoons of yarrow flowers in a cup of hot water for around 15 minutes. It’s a good idea to start drinking this tea a couple of days before your premenstrual syndrome symptoms begin. About 3 to 5 cups of tea a day should do the trick.3
2. Lowers High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that affects around 1 out of 3 adults in the United States.4 And while a healthy diet and exercise can go a long way in managing this condition, a cup of yarrow tea could help too! Animal studies have found that this herb can lower blood pressure, working by preventing calcium from entering blood vessel cells. This in turn allows blood vessels to relax.5 So, try a cup of yarrow tea. You can boost the blood pressure-lowering capacity of this tea by adding other beneficial herbs like hawthorn and lime flowers as well.6
3. Soothes Cold When Combined With Elderberry And Peppermint
The common cold is, well, a pretty common problem. But there’s an easy fix for the constant sneezing and stuffy nose that come with it. Try the classic northern European yarrow–peppermint–elderberry tea. Most of the symptoms that you experience with a cold are caused by your body’s inflammatory reaction to the cold virus. Yarrow helps here because it has anti-inflammatory properties.7 Meanwhile, peppermint and elderberry have a decongestant effect.8 9
Mix equal quantities of all three herbs and steep a couple of teaspoons of this mixture in a cup of boiling hot water for around 20 minutes. Drink the tea hot as often as you need till your symptoms ease.10
You can also make a soothing chest rub by diluting yarrow oil and peppermint oil in a little almond oil. But do keep in mind that peppermint is not suitable for very young children so this remedy is not recommended for them.11
id="eases-asthma-symptoms">4. Eases Asthma Symptoms
Asthma is caused by swelling of your bronchi, tubes that pass air into and out of your lungs. When your bronchi become inflamed, they can become narrower temporarily and cause breathing problems. But animal studies have found that yarrow can dilate or widen your bronchi. This makes it helpful for people suffering from asthma.12 So put the kettle on and make yourself a cup of yarrow tea to ease your breathing.
5. Improves Digestion
Here’s another common problem that a cup of healing yarrow tea can slay – indigestion! According to research, dicaffeoylquinic acids and luteolin-7-O-β-D-glucuronide present in yarrow can increase bile flow. And bile helps break down fat and improve digestion.13
id="heals-and-prevents-stomach-ulcers">6. Heals And Prevents Stomach Ulcers
Yarrow has commonly been used in traditional medicine to treat gastrointestinal disturbances. Now, there’s scientific evidence that it prevents and treats gastric ulcers. One animal study found that an extract of yarrow was effective at protecting the gastric mucosa from ulcers caused by alcohol and indomethacin, a common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It was even found to be effective at healing chronic gastric lesions caused by exposure to acetic acid.14
It’s worth noting that yarrow has also been found to work against Helicobacter pylori, bacteria that have been associated with stomach ulcers.15
id="eases-irritable-bowel-syndrome-and-tackles-stomach-cramps">7. Eases Irritable Bowel Syndrome And Tackles Stomach Cramps
Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation. The other common symptoms of this condition are abdominal cramps and pain. And this is where yarrow may be able to help. One animal study found that yarrow has antispasmodic activity and can inhibit smooth muscle contraction in the intestine, thereby easing intestinal spasms. The relaxatory effect of yarrow could be due to its ability to block plasma membrane proteins such as voltage-dependent calcium channels.16
So the next time you get those terrible stomach cramps, try a soothing cup of yarrow tea for relief.
id="helps-you-sleep-better">8. Helps You Sleep Better
Yarrow has traditionally been used as a sleeping aid. As one animal study found, yarrow extract has sedative as well as anti-anxiety effects. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in regulating sleep. According to the researchers, yarrow works by impacting a central adenosine mechanism.17 So try drinking yarrow tea for a good night’s sleep.
9. Treats Minor Wounds
And finally, let’s test the remedy suggested by Achilles himself! An animal study found that an ointment containing 5% yarrow extract was able to significantly speed up wound healing. This effect was attributed to its ability to quicken the growth of new tissue and collagen, a protein that gives structure to your skin and makes it firm.18 So looks like this Greek warrior had the right idea after all!
|↑1||Yarrow. University of Michigan.|
|↑2||Yarrow. University of Maryland.|
|↑4||High Blood Pressure Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑5||Khan, Arif‐ullah, and Anwarul Hasan Gilani. “Blood pressure lowering, cardiovascular inhibitory and bronchodilatory actions of Achillea millefolium.” Phytotherapy Research 25, no. 4 (2011): 577-583.|
|↑6||DK. Neal’s Yard Remedies: Cook, Brew and Blend Your Own Herbs. Dorling Kindersley Ltd, 2011.|
|↑7||Stress On Disease.
|↑8||Peppermint. University of Maryland.|
|↑9||Elderberry. University of Maryland.|
|↑10||Hoffmann, David. Easy Breathing: Natural Treatments for Asthma, Colds, Flu, Coughs, Allergies, and Sinusitis. Storey Publishing, 2017.|
|↑11||Kalra, M., M. Khatak, and S. Khatak. “Cold And Flu: Conventional vs Botanical & Nutritional Therapy.” Int. J. Drug Dev. & Res 3, no. 1 (2011): 314-327.|
|↑12||Khan, Arif‐ullah, and Anwarul Hasan Gilani. “Blood pressure lowering, cardiovascular inhibitory and bronchodilatory actions of Achillea millefolium.” Phytotherapy Research 25, no. 4 (2011): 577-583.|
|↑13||Benedek, B., N. Geisz, W. Jäger, T. Thalhammer, and B. Kopp. “Choleretic effects of yarrow (Achillea millefolium sl) in the isolated perfused rat liver.” Phytomedicine 13, no. 9 (2006): 702-706.|
|↑14||Cavalcanti, Ana Maria, Cristiane Hatsuko Baggio, Cristina Setim Freitas, Lia Rieck, Renato Silva de Sousa, José Eduardo Da Silva-Santos, Sonia Mesia-Vela, and Maria Consuelo Andrade Marques. “Safety and antiulcer efficacy studies of Achillea millefolium L. after chronic treatment in Wistar rats.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 107, no. 2 (2006): 277-284.|
|↑15||Mahady, Gail B., Susan L. Pendland, Adenia Stoia, Frank A. Hamill, Daniel Fabricant, Birgit M. Dietz, and Lucas R. Chadwick. “In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to botanical extracts used traditionally for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders.” Phytotherapy research 19, no. 11 (2005): 988-991.|
|↑16||Moradi, M., Mahmoud Rafieian-Koupaei, Reza Imani-Rastabi, Jafar Nasiri, Mehrdad Shahrani, Zahra Rabiei, and Zahra Alibabaei. “Antispasmodic effects of yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.) extract in the isolated ileum of rat.” African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 10, no. 6 (2013): 499-503.|
|↑17||Rezaie, Ali, and Changhiz Ahmadizadeh. “Study of sedation, pre-anesthetic and anti-anxiety effects of polar, semi-polar and non-polar fractions of yarrow (Achillea millefolium) extract compared with Diazepam in rats.” Life Sci. J 10 (2013): 907-913.|
|↑18||Hemmati, A. A., A. Arzi, and M. Amin. “Effect of Achillea millefolium extract in wound healing of rabbit.” Journal of Natural Remedies 2, no. 2 (2002): 164-167.|