Family • Compositae - Achillea millefolium Linn. - YARROW - Shi cao

Scientific names

Achillea millefolium Linn.
Achillea lanulosa Nutt.
Achillea subhirsuta Gilib.
Millefolium officinale Gueldenst.

Common names

Bloodwort (Engl.)
Carpenter’s weed (Engl.)
Milfoil (Engl.)
Thousand leaf (Engl.)
Thousand-seal (Engl.)
Yarrow (Engl.)
Yarroway (Engl.)
Shi cao (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

ARABIC: Om alf waraka.
CHINESE: Ou shi, Qian ye shi, Ju cao
CROATIAN: Armanj, Jezičec, Jutrocel, Kačak, Paprac, Rebrac, Reza, Rman
DANISH: Duizendblad.
FINNISH: Aivastusjuuri, Akantupakki, Siank
FRENCH: Millefeuille, Herbe aux coupures, Herbe aux militaires, Herbe de St. Jean.
GERMAN: Gemeine schafgarbe, Tausendblatt, Wiesen-Schafgarb.
ITALIAN: Millefoglie, Milefoglio.
JAPANESE: Seiyou no kogirisou, Yaroo.
NORWEGIAN: Ryllik, Vanlig ryllik.
POLISH: Krwawnik pospolity.
PORTUGESE: Espuma-do-mar, Mil-em-rama, Mil-folhas.
RUSSIAN: Tysjačelistnik obyknovennyj.
SERBIAN: Ajdučica, Ajdučka trava, Aspra, Jalovi mesecnjak, Kunji rep, Krokoted.
SLOVENIAN: Arman, Grenki man, Erman, Zavrelec, Mezinec, Rmanc, Runica.
SPANISH: Alcanfor, Ciento en rama, Mil hojas, Milefolio , Milenrama, Milhojas.

Yarrow (Achilles millefolium) was named after Achilles, the Greek mythical hero who used it to stop the bleedng wounds of his soldiers.


Milfoil is an erect perennial herb growing to a height of 50 to 90 centimeters. Leaves are without stalks, 1- to 2-pinnately parted into linear-toothed segments. Heads occur in flat-topped corymbs. Flowers are white, red, or purplish, with five rays.


– Occurs in Baguio and the Mountain Province as an ornamental, cultivated for its flowers and foliage.
– Also found in the Western Himalayas, extending to Northern Asia, Europe and America.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Safety and antiulcer efficacy studies of Achillea millefolium L. after chronic treatment in Wistar rats / Ana Maria Cavalcanti et al / Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 107, Issue 2, 19 September 2006, Pages 277-284/ doi:10.1016/j.jep.2006.03.011

(2) VARIABILITY OF CHAMAZULENE WITHIN ACHILLEA MILLEFOLIUM / A Belanger and L Dextreaze / ISHS Acta Horticulturae 330: WOCMAP I – Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Conference: part 4 of 4


(4) Antimotility Effect of Hydroalcoholic Extract of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) on the Guinea-Pig Ileum / Medhi Babaei et al / Pak. J. Biol. Sci., 10: 3673-3677. / DOI: 10.3923/pjbs.2007.3673.3677

(5) In vitro Assessment of Antimicrobial Efficacy of Alcoholic Extract of Achillea Millefolium in Comparison with Penicillin Derivatives / Hossien Tajik, Farnood Shokouhi et al / J. Anim. Vet. Adv., 7: 508-511. / DOI: 10.3923/javaa.2008.508.511

(6) Antinociceptive peripheral effect of Achillea millefolium L. and Artemisia vulgaris L.: both plants known popularly by brand names of analgesic drugs / Julia Movilla Pires, Fulvio Mendes et al / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 23 Issue 2, Pages 212 – 219 / Publ OnLine 10 Oct 2008

(7) Sorting Achilea names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher, / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE

(8) Comparison of Thymus vulgaris (Thyme), Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) and propolis hydroalcoholic extracts versus systemic glucantime in the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis in balb/c mice / M.A. Nilforoushzadeha, L. Shirani-Bidabadia, A. Zolfaghari-Baghbaderania, S. Saberia, A.H. Siadata & M. Mahmoudi / J Vector Borne Dis 45, December 2008, pp. 301–306

(9) Yarrow / Universitry of Maryland Medical Center

(10) Antimutagenic Effect of Medicinal Plants Achillea millefolium and Bauhinia forficata In Vivo / Elisângela Düsman, Igor Vivian de Almeida, Ana Carolina Coelho, Thiago José Balbi, Lilian Tatiani Düsman Tonin, and Veronica Elisa Pimenta Vicentini / Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013 (2013) /

(11) Achillea millefolium L. s.l. herb extract: Antioxidant activity and effect on the rat heart mitochondrial functions / Sonata Trumbeckaite, Raimondas Benetis, Deividas Burdulis, Valdimaras Janulis, Adolfas Toleikis, Pranas ViÅ¡kelis, Valdas JakÅ¡tas, Lina Raudone / Food Chemistry (Impact Factor: 3.33). 04/2011; 127:1540 – 1548. / DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2011.02.014

(12) The Melanogenesis Alteration Effects of Achillea millefolium L. Essential Oil and Linalyl Acetate: Involvement of Oxidative Stress and the JNK and ERK Signaling Pathways in Melanoma Cells / Hsin-Yi Peng, Chih-Chien Lin, Hsun-Yen Wang, Ying Shih mail, Su-Tze Chou / PLoS ONE 9(4): e95186. / doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095186

(13) Toxicity of Essential Oils Isolated from Achillea millefolium L., Artemisia dracunculus L. and Heracleum persicum Desf. Against Adults of Plodia interpunctella (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in Islamic Republic of Iran / Asgar Ebadollahi, Shabnam Ashouri / ECOLOGIA BALKANICA, 2011, Vol 3, Issue 2, Pp 41-48

(14) Beneficial effects of Achillea millefolium aqueos extract against cyclophosphamide-induced reproductive toxicity / Ali Shalizar Jalali, Shapour Hasanzadeh, Hassan Malekinejad / J Exp Integr Med. 2013; 3(2): 113-119 / doi: 10.5455/jeim.110313.or.061

(15) Analgesic Effect of Aqueous Extract of Achillea Millefolium L. on Rat’s Formalin Test / Mahdi Noureddini, Vahid-reza Rasta / Pharmacologyonline 3: 659-664 (2008)

• Contains a bitter glucoside – achilleine, tannin, bluish volatile oil, aconitic acid, resin, nitrate, inuline, asparagin.
• Contains a volatile oil rich in sesquiterpene lactones and alkamides.
• Volatile oil is the best source of the blue hydrocarbon, azulene, with a great percentage of borneol and thujone.
• Roots contain volatile oil, 0.032%.
• Yields three alkaloids: achilleine, achilletine and moscatine.
• Oil has yielded eucalyptol, camphor, alpha-terpineol, beta-pinene and borneol as principal components.
• Analysis of essential oil identified 33 peaks, representing 81.4 % of the oil. The main compounds were 1,8-cineole (22%), camphor (21%), borneol (7.6%) and b-pinene (5.3%).
• Study of oil yielded: methyl alcohol, formaldehyde, probably formic acid, ethyl alcohol, acetone, furfurol, valeric acid, eugenol, pinene, nopinene, cineol, thujone, borneol, camphor, caryophyllen, and azulen.
• The volatile oil is considered a good source of blue hydrocarbon, azulene, and contains a good percentage of borneol and thujone.

• Flowering plant and flowers considered stimulant, aromatic, sudorific, tonic, astringent, diuretic, vulnerary.
• Considered anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial.

Parts utilized
Bark, leaves.

• Used for colds, fevers, obstructed perspiration.
• Use to open the pores in obstructed perspiration and as blood purifier.
• Used for hysteria, flatulence, heartburn, colic and epilepsy.
Milfoil4• In England, used as vulnerary, taken internally to suppress hemorrhages and profuse mucoid discharges.
• Used for intermittent fevers and as antispasmodic in flatulent colic and nervous affections.
• In France, hot infusion used as emmenagogue and for suppression of lochia; sometimes used in low exanthematous fevers with obstinate eruptions.
• Ointment of the fresh plant used by the Scottish Highlanders for hemorrhoids.
• Decoction of whole herb used for bleeding hemorrhoids and kidney disorders.
• Used as hair wash for prevention of baldness.
• An whole plant tincture made with wine, in diluted strength, used in small doses for arresting bleeding in the lungs, kidneys and nose.
• Leaves believed to encourage clotting; used fresh for nosebleeds. Also, a strong decoction of leaves used as injection into the nostrils to stop bleeding.
• Fresh juice of the plant used to improve appetite.
• Fresh juice used as astringent for piles, varicose ulcers and sore nipples.
• Fresh bruised herb used as vulnerary and styptic.
• In Norway, used for rheumatism; leaves chewed for toothaches.
• In Scotland, fresh leaves used for colds and various childhood ailments.
• In France, powdered leaves used as sternutatory; rolled leaf applied to nostrils to induce bleeding and relieve headaches.
• In California, leaves steeped in hot water are applied to cuts and bruises; also used for poulticing skin rashes.
• Essential oil from the flowers used to stimulate the appetite.
• Leaves chewed for toothaches; infusion used as drops to fill ear canals for earaches.



• In Sweden and some parts of Africa, plant has been used in making beer; Linnaeus considered milfoil brewed beer to more intoxicating than hops-beer.
• In the middle ages, yarrow was an ingredient of the herbal mixture called grut, used in the flavoring of beer prior to the use of hops.

Study Findings
• Anti-Ulcer: Study showed the antiulcer potential of the aerial parts of Achillea millefolium, with no signs of toxicity even at chronic exposure.
• Antimicrobial: Study has shown the oil to have antimicrobial activity against S pneumoniae, C perfringens, C albicans, Mycobacterium smegmatis, Candida krusei.
• Essential Oils / Chamazulene: Essential oils isolated from 20 different plants of A millefolium were: chamazulene, germacrene, ß-thujone, a-thujone, sabinene, ß-pinene among others. The plants of A millefolium which produced the highest content of chamazulene was propagated by rhizome for further production of oils rich in blue pigment.
• Antitumor: Study has yielded three sesquiterpenoids, achimillic acids A, B and C which showed antitumor activities. Compounds were active against P-388 leukemia cells in vivo.n
• Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Treatment: Study results suggest that Achillea millefolium, Thymus vulgaris and propolis extracts are effective in the treatment of cutaneous leishmaniansis in mice, alone or in combination.
• Choleretic Effects: In the study, a fraction enriched in dicaffeoylquinic acids and luteolin-7-O-[beta]-D-glucoronide prepared from methanolic extract of yarrow was investigated for its choleretic effect. Results showed a dose-dependent increase in bile flow in the isolated perfused rat liver.
• Antimotility Effect: Study showed A millefolium extract inhibited electrical-induced contractions of the guinea-pig ileum when tested in vitro in a dose-dependent and reversible effect.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Antioxidant: Study confirms the antiphlogistic activity of A. millefolium aqueous extract. The anti-inflammatory effects were partially mediated by the suppression of the activation of transcription factor NF0kB and p38 MAPK signaling cascade. It also showed good free radical scavenging activity and an ability to decrease the levels of intracellular ROS.
• Antimicrobial: Study showed the alcoholic extract of yarrow has considerable antimicrobial effect on control and wound pathogen microorganisms. The antibacterial effect was lesser than Ampicillin and greater or similar to other penicillin derivatives.
• Anti-Trypanocidal: A study evaluated the anti-epimastigote activity of varied fractions of four medicinal plants, including A millefolium, against the epimastigotes of Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiologic agent causing Chagas disease. Results revealed that Achillea and Satureja species could be a source of active trypanocidal compounds.
• Antinociceptive Effect / Anti-Inflammatory / Antispasmodic / Rutin: A study of the hydroalcoholic extracts of A. millefolim and A vulgaris confirmed their folkloric use as analgesic, antiinflammatory and antispasmodic agents. Both showed rutin as the principal flavonoid glycoside constituent.
• Cutaneous Leishmaniasis: Study showed extracts of Thymus vulgaris, Achillea millefolium and propolis are effective for treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis in mice. Randomized clinical trials are suggested in humans.
• Antimutagenic: Study evaluated the cytotoxic and antimutagenic potential of aqueous extracts of A. millefolium and Bauhinia forficata. The extracts of A. millefolium and B. forficata have antimutagenic potential, reducing the percentage of chromosomal alterations induced by cyclophosphamide.
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated the antioxidant activity of A. millefoli herb using various assays. Results showed significant antioxidant activity on on-line HPLC-DPPH assay attributed to the presence of active components amongst phenolic compounds. Fluorimetric measurements demonstrated that YE at concentrations that had no effect on the State 3 res-piration rate significantly decreased H 2 O 2 production in mitochondria.
• Wound Healing / Essential Oil: Study evaluated the effect of essentia oil of Achilles illefoli on wound healing in male chickens. Results showed higher concentrations have significant healing properties on chicken’s wound. Results suggest a potential source for natural alternative components for wound healing.
• Melanogenesis Alteration Effects / Hyperpigentation Treatment Potential / Essential Oil: Studyevaluated the effect of essential oil of A. millefolium on melanogenesis in melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) treated melanoma cells. Results showed AM-EO suppresses melanin production by decreasing tyrosinase activity through regulation of the JNK and ERK signaling pathways. Results suggest a potential for EO to treat hyperpigmentation in the future.
• Fumigant / Essential Oil: Study showed essential oils of A. millefoli, A. dracunculus and H. persicum have potential as fumigants for controlling P. interpunctella, and an alternative to conventioal synthetic insecticides.
• Hepatoprotection / Hepatic Fibrosis: Study evaluated the anti-hepatofibrotic effect of Achilles millefolium extract on experimental hepatic fibrosis and its partial mechanism. Results showed hepatoprotection and prevention of progression of hepatic fibrosis in rats.
• Protection Against Cyclophosphamide-Induced Reproductive Toxicity: Study showed A. millefolium inflorescences aqueous extract may be partially proctective against reproductive toxicity during CP treatment in a rat model.
• Analgesic: Study of an aqueous extract of Achillea millefolium assessed in rat’s formalin assay showed analgesic effects provably resulting from its central action.
• Inhibition of Ileum Contractions: Study showed Achillea millefolium extract inhibits ileu contractions. Reslts suggest it might be used in patients to reduce ileum spasms.
• Inhibition of Ileum Contractions: Study of Achillea millefolium plant extract for showed a mild stimulatory effect on ß-adrenoceptor of tracheal smooth muscle.