Achillea millefolium; Milfoil

Legend has it that yarrow (Achillea millefolium) was named after Achilles, the Greek mythical hero who used it to stop the bleeding in his soldiers' wounds. Popular in European folk medicine, yarrow contains flavonoids, plant-based chemicals that increase saliva and stomach acid to help improve digestion. Yarrow may also relax smooth muscle in the intestine and uterus, which can relieve stomach and menstrual cramps.

Few scientific studies have looked at yarrow as an herbal medicine. Traditionally, it was used in 3 ways:

  • Applied to the skin for wounds and minor bleeding
  • Taken by mouth to reduce inflammation, especially in the digestive tract
  • Taken as a sedative to relieve anxiety or insomnia

Today, yarrow is sometimes suggested for the following uses, although there is a lack of scientific evidence:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • As a diuretic, to increase urine flow
  • Amenorrhea (irregular menstrual cycle)
  • Menstrual cramps and pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Inflammation
  • To fight infection
  • Fever (brings temperature down through sweating)
  • To reduce bleeding
  • Wound healing

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