Yarrow [Achillea millefolium]

Yarrow grows in Europe, North America, and Asia. A number of species are used as garden
ornamentals. The aerial parts of yarrow are used in herbal medicine. Yarrow (Achillea
millefolium) is believed to benefit diarrhea and high blood pressure. [1]

Ingredients of Yarrow
Yarrow contains cholesterol, campesterol, sesquiterpenoids and triterpenes. [2]

Potential Health Benefits of Yarrow
Yallow contains a volatile oil rich in sesquiterpene lactones, and alkamides. In vitro studies, the
oil was found to have anti-inflammatory properties. [7,8] It also possesses antioxidant and
antimicrobial properties in vitro. The oil showed antimicrobial activity against Streptococcus
pneumoniae, Clostridium perfringens, Candida albicans, Mycobacterium smegmatis,
Acinetobacter lwoffii and Candida krusei. Eucalyptol, camphor, alpha-terpineol, beta-pinene,
and borneol were found to be the principal components. The oil strongly reduced the
diphenylpicrylhydrazyl radical and exhibited hydroxyl radical scavenging effect in the Fe(3+)-
EDTA-H(2)O(2) deoxyribose system. It also inhibited the nonenzymatic lipid peroxidation of rat
liver homogenate. The polar phase of the extract showed antioxidant activity. [11]

Japanese researchers found three sesquiterpenoids, achimillic acids A, B and C showed anti-
tumor activities. These compounds were active against mouse P-388 leukemia cells in vivo. [5]

Different species from the Achillea millefolium aggregate have been used against
gastrointestinal and hepato-biliary disorders in traditional European medicine. Researchers
from University of Vienna, Austria, prepared different fractions from yarrow. They found that
yarrow fractions could increased bile flow in isolated perfused rat liver. The ingredients are
believed to be extracted into teas and tinctures, and contribute the choleretic benefits in the
traditional application forms of yarrow. [12]

The crude extract of Achillea millefolium (yarrow) was found to have hepatoprotective effect
against d-galactosamine and lipopolysaccharide induced hepatitis in mice and antispasmodic
effect in isolated gut preparations. Co-administration of d-galactosamine (700 mg/kg) and
lipopolysaccharide produced 100% mortality in mice. Pre-treatment of animals with the extract
reduced the mortality to 40%. Histopathological study showed improved architecture, absence
of parenchymal congestion, decreased cellular swelling and apoptotic cells in the liver of the
treated animals. [13]

Aqueous extract of flowers of yarrow showed anxiolytic effects on female Wistar rats during late
proestrus or diestrus. Researchers believed this activities could be related to its influence on
the estrous cycle. Definitely, more studies are needed to confirm this potential benefits. [15]

Side Effects of Yarrow
Yarrow Extract was reportedly used in some cosmetic formulations. In clinical testing, product
formulations containing 0.1% to 0.5% of ingredient that actually contained 2% of Yarrow Extract
were generally not irritating. [6]

However, cases of allergic contact dermatitis have been described since 1899. [3-4,9] In a
study of rats, it was found that yarrow, when administered to rats at 56 times the human dose,
was associated with the side effects of reduced fetal weight and increased placental weight. it
must be concluded that the consumption of yarrow is contraindicated during pregnancy. [1,10]

Yarrow may alter estrogen activities. In vitro assay, based on recombinant MCF-7 cells, showed
estrogenic activity in a crude extract of the aerial parts of A. millefolium (yarrow). After
fractionation of the crude extract with increasing polar solvents, estrogenic activity was found in
the methanol/water fraction. Researchers from Universita degli Studi di Padova, Italy, found that
apigenin and luteolin from yarrow had a high ability to activate alpha or beta estrogen receptors
(ERalpha, ERbeta) of transiently transfected cells. [13]

Researchers from Universidade Federal do Parana, Brazil, observed a significant increase in
the percentage of abnormal sperm in the male rats treated with the highest dose of yarrow
extract, though they did not notice signs of toxicity. [14] While, researchers from Institute of
Biology, UNICAMP, Brazil observed increased number of metaphases in the germ epithelium in
yarrow flowers extract-treated mice. [15] Thus, long term use of high doses of yarrow extract
can be dangerous.

Yarrow should not be used to treat large, deep, or infected wounds, all of which require medical
attention. Do not take yarrow, if you are pregnant.

This article is for your information only. If you have question, please, consult with your doctor. DO NOT

[1] 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):416-20. [2]Chandler RF, et al, Herbal remedies of the Maritime
Indians: sterols and triterpenes of Achillea millefolium L. (Yarrow).J Pharm Sci. 1982 Jun;71(6):690-3 [3] Hausen BM, et al,
alpha-Peroxyachifolid and other new sensitizing sesquiterpene lactones from yarrow (Achillea millefolium L., Compositae).
Contact Dermatitis. 1991 Apr;24(4):274-80.[4] Rucker G, et al, 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):979-81.[5] Tozyo T, et al, Novel antitumor sesquiterpenoids in Achillea millefolium. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1994 May;
42(5):1096-100.[6] Final report on the safety assessment of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Extract.Int J Toxicol. 2001;20
Suppl 2:79-84. [7] Zitterl-Eglseer K, Jurenitsch J, Korhammer S, et al. Sesquiterpene lactones of Achillea setacea with
antiphlogistic activity. Planta Med 1991;57:444–6. [8] Muller-Jakic B, Breu W, Probstle A, et al. In vitro inhibition of
cyclooxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase by alkamides from Echinacea and Achillea species. Planta Med 1994;60:37–40. [9]
McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American Herbal Products AssociationÂ’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca
Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 3. [10] McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A (eds). American Herbal Products
AssociationÂ’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, 3.    School of Natural Product Studies,
Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, Jadavpur University, Kolkata 700032, India. [11] Candan F, et al, Antioxidant
and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil and methanol extracts of Achillea millefolium subsp. millefolium Afan.
(Asteraceae).J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Aug;87(2-3):215-20. [12] Benedek B, et al, Choleretic effects of yarrow (Achillea
millefolium s.l.) in the isolated perfused rat liver.Phytomedicine. 2005 Nov 19 [13] Yaeesh S, et al, Studies on
hepatoprotective, antispasmodic and calcium antagonist activities of the aqueous-methanol extract of Achillea millefolium.
Phytother Res. 2006 Jul;20(7):546-51. [13] Innocenti G, et al, In vitro estrogenic activity of Achillea millefolium L.
Phytomedicine. 2006 Jul 20 [14] Dalsenter PR, et al,Reproductive evaluation of aqueous crude extract of Achillea
millefolium L. (Asteraceae) in Wistar rats.Reprod Toxicol. 2004 Aug-Sep;18(6):819-23.   [15] Montanari T, et al,
Antispermatogenic effect of Achillea millefolium L. in mice. Contraception. 1998 Nov;58(5):309-13.[15] Molina-Hernandez M,
et al,Anticonflict actions of aqueous extracts of flowers of Achillea millefolium L. vary according to the estrous cycle
phases in Wistar rats. Phytother Res. 2004 Nov;18(11):915-20.
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