Achillea millefolium, known commonly as yarrow /ˈjæroʊ/ or common yarrow, is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. It is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America. In New Mexico and southern Colorado, it is called plumajillo (Spanish for ‘little feather’) from its leaf shape and texture. In antiquity, yarrow was known as herbal militaris, for its use in stanching the flow of blood from wounds. Other common names for this species include gordaldo, nosebleed plant, old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf, and thousand-seal.
Achillea millefolium is an erect herbaceous perennial plant that produces one to several stems 0.2–1 meter (0.66–3.28 ft) in height, and has a spreading rhizomatous growth form. Leaves are evenly distributed along the stem, with the leaves near the middle and bottom of the stem being the largest. The leaves have varying degrees of hairiness (pubescence). The leaves are 5–20 cm long, bipinnate or tripinnate, almost feathery, and arranged spirally on the stems. The leaves are cauline, and more or less clasping.
The inflorescence has 4 to 9 phyllaries and contains ray and disk flowers which are white to pink. The generally 3 to 8 ray flowers are ovate to round. Disk flowers range from 15 to 40. The inflorescence is produced in a flat-topped capitulum cluster and the inflorescences are visited by many insects, featuring a generalized pollination system. The fruits are small achenes. The plant has a strong, sweet scent, similar to chrysanthemums.
Yarrow grows from sea level to 3,500 meters (11,500 ft) in elevation. The plant commonly flowers from May through June. Common yarrow is frequently found in the mildly disturbed soil of grasslands and open forests. Active growth occurs in the spring.
The plant is native to Eurasia and is found widely from the UK to China. In North America, both native and introduced genotypes, and both diploid and polyploid plants are found. It is found in every habitat throughout California except the Colorado and Mojave Deserts. Common yarrow produces an average yield of 43,000 plants per acre, with a total dry weight of 10,500 lbs. The plant is found in Australia as an introduction.
Yarrow is cultivated as an ornamental plant by many plant nurseries. It is planted in gardens and natural landscaping settings of diverse climates and styles. They include native plant, drought-tolerant, and wildlife gardens. The plant is a frequent component of butterfly gardens. The plant prefers well-drained soil in full sun, but can be grown in less ideal conditions.
For propagation, seeds require light for germination, so optimal germination occurs when planted no deeper than one-quarter inch (6 mm). Seeds also require a germination temperature of 18-24° (64-75 °F). It has a relatively short life in some situations, but may be prolonged by division in the spring every other year, and planting 12 to 18 in (30–46 cm) apart. It can become invasive.
What is Yarrow Essential Oil?
Yara Yara essential oil, prevalently known as Yarrow essential oil has a bundle of therapeutic properties that has made its presence inevitable in the world of Complementary and Alternative Medicine including the oldest natural healing system known as Ayurveda, meaning the knowledge of life. Use of Yarrow as a natural medicine dates back to more than 60 thousand years and this was proved by its presence on the body of a Neanderthal. Such a distinguished herb is used in different forms like essential oil, decoction, powder and much more in treating a series of illnesses.
Yarrow essential oil’s botanical name belies its historical use and therapeutic effects. Achillea millefolium tells us of its use by Achilles, the great Greek warrior, for healing of his wounds, and that of his soldiers. (“Millefolium” notes its finely, feathery leaves). As with other Blue oils, the oil becomes blue in the distillation process, as anti-inflammatory matracin turns to chamulzine.
Its synergy of therapeutic properties makes it a first choice for wound healing in the initial stages. Battaglia, in “The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy” lists its among its therapeutic properties: anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, astringent, haemostatic and citrisant” a group of properties which implies it can stop bleeding, speed new skin formation, and reduce inflammation. Quite useful!
And Battaglia notes Yarrow essential oil not only for wounds in skin care, but that it may be used for any irritated skin condition, particularly where its drying properties would be appropriate. You can choose or between, or experiment with Yarrow, German Chamomile, and Blue Tansy to find the best inflammation reducing/soothing oil for your skin’s needs. It is regularly noted as a choice in eczema treatment formulations.
Its deep herbaceous aroma is noted for its stress reducing action, and may be helpful for insommnia. Like Blue Tansy, it can also be useful for reducing allergy and hay-fever symptoms.
Chemical Constituents of Yarrow Essential Oil
The essential oil of Yarrow is extracted by steam distillation of the dried plant. Its main components are Alpha Pinene, Borneol Acetate, Borneol, Beta Pinene, Camphene, Cineole, Camphor, Chamazulene, Gamma Terpinene, Isoartemisia Ketone, Limonene, Sabinene and Tricyclene. You must be well acquainted with these components by now and can assume what medicinal properties an essential oil may have just by looking at its components.
Benefits of Yarrow Essential Oil
The health benefits of Yarrow Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as an anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, astringent, carminative, cicatrisant, decongestant, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, haemostatic, hypotensive, stomachic, tonic, tranquilizer and vulnerary substance.
Your first guess was right! The Essential Oil of Yarrow is anti inflammatory in nature. It can efficiently handle inflammation of any types; be it of nasal or respiratory tracts resulting from the common cold, the digestive system caused by overeating of spicy food, or perhaps inflammation of circulatory system caused by any toxin (venom, narcotics etc.) getting into the blood stream.
Being good for circulation, it is good for rheumatic or arthritic patients too. It improves circulation and thereby prevents accumulation of uric acid in the joints and muscles, thus helping cure rheumatism and arthritis. Added to that, the diaphoretic property of this oil helps remove the toxins from body through perspiration.
Common antiseptic creams and lotions available in the market can hardly match its performance as an anti septic. It protects wounds from being septic and other bacterial, fungal or viral infections. It forms a protective covering on the wound and activates the blood platelets and leucocytes at the effected place, thereby checking the intrusion of microbes. Furthermore, the oil itself has bactericidal and fungicidal properties, which effectively kills them and adds to the effect.
Those who suffer from spasms alone know how dangerous it can be. Spasm, or extraordinary contraction in the body, can lead to some of the most serious and even fatal of ailments. When in the respiratory system, it can cause severe and uninterrupted coughs, and may result in convulsions if it pertains to the nervous system. In case of spasm of intestines, it may result in acute abdominal pain, and finally, it may give rise to painful cramps in the muscles. The only way to get rid of this is to relax the contraction. In cases like these, the essential oil of Yarrow can help, as it has a relaxing, anti-spasmodic effect on muscles, nerves, intestines and respiratory tracts.
Remember those ads for toothpaste which said that “It’s incredible astringent tightens up the loosened gums”? Yes! It is the same astringent we are talking about. The actual function of an astringent is to bring about contractions, in muscles, tissues and even in blood vessels. This effect proves beneficial for us. When it results in the contraction of the gums, the teeth are secured. In case of scalp and hair follicles, it strengthens hair and eliminates hair loss. Furthermore, Yarrow essential oil improved saggy skin and muscles which resulted from aging, and thus gave people a younger look. And that is not all! It can also lessen bleeding or hemorrhage by bringing contraction to the blood vessels. The finishing touch! The Essential Oil of Yarrow has astringent properties.
Are you afraid of those untimely air-cannon shots in the midst of a party which leave you irritated or have you been suffering from flatulence, heaviness in the chest and the intestines, indigestion, chest pain, loss of appetite, or stomach aches etc.? Do you know what causes them? It is that good old gas, which is left surprisingly untreated for a long time, which can be highly dangerous in the long term. Try this essential oil. It removes gases from the intestines in a downward path and does not let them build up either. Try it at home and experience the relief for yourself.
The cicatrisant property of this essential oil can give thousands of those costly anti-mark and anti-scar creams and lotions available on the market a run for their reputation and money once they become popular. It is far better than those artificially flavored petroleum gels to cure the scars and eliminating the after marks left by the wounds, acne, pimples, or boils.
Just like the other essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, rosemary and hyssop essential oils with expectorant, analgesic and decongestant properties, yarrow essential oil is also effective in treating respiratory problems like congestion, cough, bronchitis, asthma attacks, cold and controls the secretion of phlegm. Adding few drops of this oil to your chest rub can grant you great relief from all sorts of respiratory problems. A research on the ‘Antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil and methanol extracts of Achillea millefolium subsp. millefolium Afan. (Asteraceae)’ by the Cumhuriyet University revealed that “Eucalyptol, camphor, alpha-terpineol, beta-pinene, and borneol were the principal components comprising 60.7% of the oil”. This makes Yarrow essential oil as a promising natural remedy in treating cold, fever, cough and other respiratory disorders.
This oil increases perspiration and helps in the removal of toxins, extra salt and water from the body. This also cools down the body and gives relief from fever, along with losing weight, as urine is approximately 4% fat.
The essential oil of Yarrow improves digestion. It improves the secretion of digestive juices (acids and bile) as well as restores the health of the liver and the other digestive organs.
The obstructed menses can be turned on with the help of this essential oil and can be made regular. Furthermore, the other problems associated with periods, such as fatigue, headache, abdominal pains, or nausea can also be tackled with the help of this oil. This essential oil can also help avoid early or untimely menopause from occurring.
The essential oil of Yarrow holds the secret to smoother and younger skin with a balanced amount of moisture in it. It keeps skin free from dryness, cracks, infections and visible, unsightly marks.
Being an expectorant, it clears congestion in the chest, bronchi and nose, while relieving them of phlegm. It also helps cure colds and is particularly beneficial in controlling coughs.
The febrifuge property of Yarrow essential oil helps to bring down body temperature by promoting perspiration (being diaphoretic in nature) as well as by fighting the infections which cause fever. It also gives relief from inflammation that results to fever.
This oil can efficiently bring down and even stop hemorrhaging due to its haemostatic properties. Again, this property comes from its astringent property, which brings about contractions in the hemorrhaging blood vessels, thus stopping the hemorrhage.
Those who are suffering from hypertension and under constant threat of heart attack or brain hemorrhage can try this as a safe alternative to those synthetic drugs that bring down the blood pressure. A regular administration in low and mild doses can systematically bring down the blood pressure. However, this oil should not be used for too long if this is your only real function for it.
A stomachic keeps your stomach in good condition by maintaining the proper flow of digestive juices into it. This is done by maintaining the right balance between the acid and bile (so that excess acids are neutralized) and by curing the wounds, if any, in the stomach. It soothes the stomach and gives relief from inflammation.
This property of Yarrow essential oil tones up the whole body. It optimizes the metabolic functions like decomposition of food and the absorption of nutrients by toning up the liver, stomach and intestines, and helps you grow stronger and healthier. Furthermore, it takes care of proper excretion, regulates the endocrinal secretions of hormones and enzymes, and tones up the nervous system, thus making you more alert and active, while finally, it boosts the immune system, protecting you from infections.
This property of Yarrow essential oil can be a blessing for those who suffer from insomnia and excessive stress and starve for a bit of relaxation and sound sleep. This causes relaxation in the nerves, brain and muscles; reduces blood pressure and brings about sound, refreshing sleep. This is far better than using alcohol, narcotics like opium, and sleeping pills packed with potentially harmful substances which can ruin your health in the long run.
If a diluted solution of this oil is applied on wounds, or blended with a skin cream and applied, it can help your wounds heal faster and keep them protected from infections. This oil is equally beneficial in healing internal wounds, cuts and ulcers.
Uses of Yarrow Essential Oil
A number of Yarrow essential oil uses are suggested here to guide you in any practical remedy applications.
- A gentle Ayurvedic massage with 2 to 3 drops of Yarrow essential oil blended with carrier oils like Jojoba oil, almond oil or sesame oil can grant immense relief from all sorts of digestive disorders.
- Add 5 drops of essential oil to about 5 ml of base oil. Massage it onto the area affected by varicose veins. It reduces the appearance of the engorged veins and strengthens the skin.
- Pour a few drops of yarrow essential oil in a herbal compress or poultice, preferably made with anti-inflammatory herbs like comfrey and horsetail. This compress soothes both internal and external hemorrhoids.
- Add 5 – 8 drops of yarrow essential oil in 2 tablespoon of a base oil, like castor oil. Warm up the oil combination and massage it onto the painful joint 2 times a day. It slowly starts to reduce the inflammation and within a few weeks, there is significant reduction in arthritic pain.
- One can quickly blend an oil based chest rub by adding 5 drops each of the essential oils of eucalyptus, thyme, yarrow and peppermint to a base oil of olive, about 1 oz. Massage it on the chest, throat and the back. Its aroma relieves nasal congestion.
- Take about 3 – 4 drops of yarrow essential oil on a cotton ball. Place this cotton ball right underneath the tooth that is paining. It provides a numbing action on the tooth and thus alleviates the pain.
- Yarrow essential oil provides significant relief in an upset stomach. It relieves indigestion, burping, bloating and flatulence. For this health benefit, yarrow essential oil is massaged over the abdomen. Add 8-10 drops of yarrow essential oil in about 10 ml of base oil like olive oil. Warm up the oil gently. Massage it all over the abdomen.
- Yarrow essential oil is especially good for treating oily hair and scalp condition. Add about 4 – 5 drops of yarrow essential oil to a regular herbal shampoo and apply it on the scalp. Alternatively, add about 15 drops yarrow essential oil in about 2 glasses of water. Use this water to rinse the scalp. Wash it with water to take away the essential oil.
- Yarrow essential oil helps with the problems that may occur due to menstruation. Add 15 – 20 drops of yarrow essential oil in a sitz bath. Lay in this warm bath for about 15 minutes. This promotes regular menstruation and also helps to get rid of urinary tract infections.
- Yarrow essential oil is used frequently in aromatherapy treatments. Its aroma exerts many effects which can be used in the following conditions. For these health benefits, put 4 – 5 drops of yarrow essential oil in a vaporizer. Let its aroma diffuse all over a room. Stay in the room for about 10 minutes.
Precautions for Yarrow Essential Oil
Yarrow essential oil may show neurotoxic effects, and can result in headaches and skin irritation if you continue to use it for a long time in high dosages. Oral intake should be avoided during pregnancy.
Blending for Yarrow Essential Oil
Yarrow essential oil blends well with Valerian essential oil as a combination to reduce stress. It goes well with Oakmoss oil, Vetiver oil, Ylang-Ylang oil and Cedar oil. It blends well with Lavender, German chamomile and Calendula oil. It brings out more of the aroma in black pepper essential oil, Bergamot essential oil and Grapefruit essential oil too. The essential oil of Yarrow also blends well with oils of Angelica, Cedar Wood and Verbena.