yarrow Yarrow Achillea millefolium L belonging to the Family Compositae (Asteraceae), is a perennial herb which grows up to around 1 metre in height. It is native to Eurasia and naturalized in North America. Today it is found in most temperate zones such as Canada, the US, Europe, northern China. A dark blue essential oil is steam distilled from the flowering tops with a yield that varies quite considerably from 0.1% – 1.4% depending on its source.

Yarrow has been used as a medicine by many cultures for hundreds of years. Its English common name is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon name gearwe and the Dutch yerw. The genus name Achillea may have been derived from Achilles who in Greek mythology was said to have had his wounds treated by the topical use of the herb. The ancient Europeans called it Herba Militaris, the military herb. An ointment made from it was used as a vulnary drug on battle wounds. Yarrow is found in the pharmacopoeias of a number of countries. In China it is mainly used for menstrual problems and hemorrhoids. Steam distillation of the plant yields an essential oil that is a deeper blue than Chamomile. This dark blue color is due to the presence of azulene, which does not occur in the plant itself but is a product of the steam distillation process. Yarrow is used to treat various skin conditions and digestive disorders. It has anti-inflammatory, haemostatic and spasmolytic properties.

Psychologically, Yarrow has antispasmodic and tonic properties. It can be considered for nervous headaches, depression, exhaustion, insomnia and stress related conditions. It may also be helpful for anger and rage.

On the physiological level, Yarrow has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, and emmenagogue properties. It is very helpful for skin conditions such as acne, burns, cuts, eczema, inflammations, rashes, scars and wounds. It can also be considered for hemorrhoids and constipation, as well as for regulating periods, painful periods of scanty periods.

Contraindications:. Avoid in pregnancy and with young children.

Albert Y. Leung & Steven Foster , Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, John Wiley & Sons, 1996
Blumenthal/Goldberg/Brinckmann , Herbal Medicine, Expanded Commission E Monographs, American Botanical Society, 2000
Ernest Gunther , The Essential Oils, Vol. V, Krieger Publishing Company, 1952
W.C. Evans, Trease and Evans, Pharmacognosy, 15th Edition, W.B. Saunders, 1996, 1999, 2002
Beverley Hawkins,  Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004

Yarrow is covered in the Aromatherapy 201 Course

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