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Common Yarrow

Hand-drawn image of common Yarrow
This image is taken from John Parkinson’s Theatrum Botanicum of 1640, which describes more than thirty-eight hundred plants and is the most complete English herbal of its time.  This book is available from the John R. Martin Rare Book Room in Hardin Library.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Achillea millefolium, commonly known as Yarrow or Milfoil, is a perennial member of the Aster Family that has been used in medicine for more than three thousand years (Radušiene and Gudaityte 2005). Growing throughout the Northern Hemisphere, it was named for its supposed use in treating the Trojan hero Achilles, and for its finely divided leaves (Benedek and Kopp 2007). Common Yarrow is thought to have numerous health benefits, possessing anti-inflammatory, analgesic, hemostatic, antidiabetic, antitumor, antioxidant, antifungal, and antiseptic properties (Ali et al. 2017). It is commonly used in teas, essential oils, and extracts (Ali et al. 2017). 

Historical Use

John Gerard’s The Herball, in an edition of 1633, includes multiple recommendations for using Common Yarrow, including: chewing it to help relieve toothache, putting its leaves up the nose to relieve migraines, drinking a decoction to relieve dysentery, and applying it to wounds to prevent inflammation and reduce pain.  

Excerpt from John Parkinson’s Theatrum Botanicum of 1640   

Latest Research


Ali, S. I., et al. (2017). “Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Properties of Achillea millefolium L.: A Review.” Phytother Res 31(8): 1140–1161. 

Benedek, B., and B. Kopp (2007). “Achillea millefolium L. s.l. revisited: recent findings confirm the traditional use.” Wien Med Wochenschr 157(13–14): 312–314. 

Radušiene, J. and O. Gudaityte (2005). “Distribution of proazulenes in Achillea millefolium s.l. wild populations in relation to phytosociological dependence and morphological characters.” Plant Genetic Resources 3(2): 136–143. 

Other References

Natural Medicines record: Yarrow