Achillea millefolium L.

Last updated: 2 December 2014

Scientific Name

Achillea millefolium L.

Synonyms

Achillea albida Willd., Achillea alpicola (Rydb.) Rydb [Illegitimate], Achillea ambigua Boiss, Achillea ambigua Pollini, Achillea anethifolia Fisch. ex Herder, Achillea angustissima Rydb., Achillea arenicola A.Heller, Achillea bicolor Wender, Achillea borealis Bong, Achillea californica Pollard, Achillea ceretanica Sennen, Achillea compacta Lam., Achillea coronopifolia Willd., Achillea crassifolia Colla, Achillea cristata Hort. ex DC., Achillea cuspidata Wall. [Invalid], Achillea dentifera Rchb., Achillea eradiata Piper, Achillea fusca Rydb., Achillea gigantea Pollard, Achillea gracilis Raf., Achillea haenkeana Tausch, Achillea intermedia Schleich., Achillea lanata Lam., Achillea lanulosa Nutt., Achillea laxiflora A.Nelson, Achillea laxiflora Pollard & Cockerell, Achillea magna All. [Illegitimate], Achillea magna L., Achillea magna Haenke [Illegitimate], Achillea marginata Turcz. ex Ledeb., Achillea megacephala Raup, Achillea nabelekii Heimerl, Achillea occidentalis (DC.) Raf. ex Rydb., Achillea ochroleuca Eichw., Achillea ossica K.Koch, Achillea pacifica Rydb., Achillea palmeri Rydb., Achillea pecten-veneris Pollard, Achillea pratensis Saukel & R.Länger, Achillea pseudo-tanacetifolia Wierzb. ex Rchb., Achillea puberula Rydb., Achillea pumila Schur, Achillea rosea Desf., Achillea setacea Schwein., Achillea sordida (W.D.J.Koch) Dalla Torre & Sarnth., Achillea subalpina Greene, Achillea subhirsuta Gilib. [Invalid], Achillea submillefolium Klokov & Krytzka, Achillea sylvatica Becker, Achillea tanacetifolia Mill., Achillea tenuifolia Salisb. [Illegitimate], Achillea tenuis Schur, Achillea tomentosa Pursh [Illegitimate], Achillea virgata Hort. ex DC., Achillios millefoliatus St.-Lag., Alitubus millefolium (L.) Dulac, Alitubus tomentosus Dulac, Chamaemelum millefolium (L.) E.H.L.Krause, Chamaemelum tanacetifolium (All.) E.H.L.Krause, Chamaemelum tomentosum (L.), E.H.L.Krause [Illegitimate]. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Yarrow, milfoil, thousand weed, wound wort, bloodwort, carpenter’ weeds, thousand leaf, devil’s nettle, devil’s plaything, field hop, nose bleed, old man’s pepper, sanguinary, white yarrow, common yarrow, western yarrow, thousand seal [2][3][4][5]            
China Ou shi, qian ye shi, ju cao yang shi chao [3][5]
India Gandana, roomari, rojmari, momadnu, chopandiga, akarkhara [5]
Vietnam D[uw] [ow]ng k[yf] th[ar]o[2]
Japan Nokogiri-so-zoku [5]
South Africa Duisendblaarchillea [5]
Croatia Armanj, jezičec, jutrocel, kačak, paprac, rebrac, reza, rman [3]
France Achillée millefeuille, herbe a dinde, persil a dinde, millefeuille, herbe aux coupures, herbe aux militaires, herbe de St. Jean [2][3][4]
Germany Gemeine schafgarbe, tausendblatt, wiesen-schafgarb [3]
Italy Millefoglie, milefoglio [3]
Spain Alcanfor, ciento en rama, mil hojas, milefolio, milenrama, milhojas [3]
Norway Ryllik, vanlig ryllik [3]
Poland Krwawnik pospolity [3]
Portugal Espuma-do-mar, mil-em-rama, mil-folhas [3]
Russia TysjaÄ elistnik obyknovennyj [3]
Serbia Ajdučica, ajdučka trava, aspra, jalovi mesecnjak, kunji rep, krokoted [3]
Slovenia Arman, grenki man, erman, zavrelec, mezinec, rmanc, runica [3].

Geographical Distributions

Achillea millefolium is native to Europe, northern Asia and North America [6][7]. It can be found in temperate and boreal zones of the Northern hemisphere and to lesser extent in more Southern regions [2][4]. This plant also occurs naturally in mountainous areas such as Philippines, Java [2], and in Indo-China areas. A. millefolium is a very variable and widespread species [4]. It is also commonly found in fields and waste places [6].

Botanical Description

A. millefolium L. is a plant of the Compositae family. It is a perennial herb (8-)30-90 cm tall and emits an aromatic odours from numerous small hairs together with greyish-green colour. The stem is angular [2].

The leaves gathered at the base of the stem, alternate, bigger leaves downward and getting smaller as they go upwards from the base, highly dissected, 3-pinnatifid, measured 20 cm x 6 cm [2].

The inflorescence corymb, flowering heads in a form of flat-topped, pedunculate, involucral bracts in a few flower rows, the colour varies from white to pink, magenta and red. The flowering heads shorter compared to the inner one. The florets in each capitulum usually 5, female, ligulate, 3-dented. The inner florets are hermaphrodite, 5-lobed, with corolla tube compressed. The receptacle scale is at the base [2].

The fruit is a compressed achene, without pappus, oblong or obovate [2].

Cultivation

No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Air dried aerial parts of A. millefolium yielded 0.33 % essential oils and has been reported to contain camphor, 1,8-cineole, borneol, β-eudesmol, α-terpineol, and α-bisabolol. It also has been previously reported to contain ascaridole, caryophyllene oxide, β-caryophyllene, chamazulene, β-thujone, germacrene-D, camphor, guaiazulene, artemisia ketone, piperitone, chrysanthenone and 1,8-cineole [8].

Other constituents from A. millefolium are such as sabinene, β-pinene, linalool, α-thujone, fenchyl acetate, bornyl acetate, germacrene D, β-bisabolol, δ-cadinol, chamazulene, betaine, polyynes, α-amyrin, alkamids, β-sitosterol, caryophyllene, monoterpene, oxygenated monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and sesquiterpenes lactones flavonoids [9] [10] [11] [12].

Plant Part Used

Leaves, flowers, aerial parts [2][13]

Traditional Use

The most common traditional uses of A. millefolium herb is as a blood tonic or a blood purifier and as an agent to treat any type of internal haemorrhage such as bloody stools and diarrhoea, blood in the urine and general bloody discharges from the body [14]. It is also traditionally used in the treatment of hepatobiliary disorders and as antiphlogistic drug (anti-inflammatory) [15].

In traditional Native American medical systems, A. millefolium is commonly used to treat headache by the Algonquin, Chippewa, Cree, Gosiute, Iroquois, Mendocino, Okanagan-Colville, and the Paiute tribes. The headaches treatment comes as an infusion, but Algonquin and Chippewa tribes used crushed leaves as snuff or they inhale the steam of a decoction, respectively to achieve the same goal. A. millefolium was also frequently used to assist in childbirth. The Blackfoot, Clallam, and the Makah use different applications of A. millefolium to ease labour pains and reduce the risk of injury during childbirth. While the Makah chewed the raw leaves during childbirth, the Blackfoot and Clallam used an infusion.The Hesquiat tribe drank the juice of chewed leaves to quell coughing, while the Paiute tribe achieved the same effect by using soaked leaves. For colds, an infusion of leaves was generally given. Furthermore, A. millefolium has been used as an analgesic by numerous Native American tribes across the North American continent. [16]

A. millefolium has been traditionally used to treat many respiratory disorders including but not limited to cold and flu. The Cherokee smoked the dried leaves to alleviate respiratory catarrh [14]. Both Cheyenne [17] and the Yuki [18] tribes used its infusion to promote general respiratory health. In addition to treatment of headache, an infusion of A. millefolium leaves and flowers was used by tribes such as the Cheyenne to treat any type of internal pain, including pain caused by influenza [17].

A. millefolium has actually been reported to have a great variety of usages among American Indian or known as Native American people. The plant has been used to treat cuts by Illinois and Miami tribes while the Ute tribes applied the plant topically for bruises. The tea made of A. millefolium is taken for weak and disordered stomach by Piute Indians. Moreover, the Winnebagos, Chickasaws, Meskwakis, Pillager Ojibwas, Flambeau Ojibwas, Montagnis and Micmacs tribes used to herb by various means to treat various diseases such as earache, fevers, angue, eczema, colds and more. [13]

A. millefolium also known as yarrow oil is often used as a substitute for German Chamomile oil possibly because German Chamomile oil has often been adulterated with yarrow oil [19]. The two oils are similar in colour and odour [20]. Yarrow oil has been used in an external application for tendonitis due to the reported analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. Its reported use in stress, insomnia and drug detoxification has no clinical support [21].

Besides the medicinal uses, the oil extracted from A. millefolium can be used to remove perspiration by included in bath. North American Indians used the plant as a ceremonial smokes, snuff and beverage by occasionally applied as a substitute for nutmeg or cinnamon and for hops in the brewing of beer. [2]

Preclinical Data

Pharmacology

Anti-inflammatory activity

Methanol extract of A. millefolium aerial parts showed that the herb may act as a protease inhibitor via in vitro study which mediated the anti-inflammatory activity [15]. Crude extract of A. millefolium flower heads also showed a potential non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent [22].

Antimicrobial activity

A mixture of ether, hexane, and methanol (1:1:1) extract of A. millefolium aerial parts (50 µL) showed antimicrobial activity in clinically isolated pathogen microorganisms from wound cases and control group using disk diffusion assay where the extract significantly (p < 0.05) inhibit Staphylococcus aureus from both groups (20.00±0.12 mm and 20.04±0.22 mm, respectively) and the activity was similar to several penicillin derivatives compared to ampicillin. The extract also showed inhibition to S. typhimorium (17.24±0.12 mm) and Escherichia coli (12.02±0.42 mm) of the control group and inhibition to S. pneumonia (18.12±0.42 mm), E. coli (12.20±0.24 mm) and Enterobacter aerogenes   (11.02±0.40 mm) of the isolated microorganism [23].

Choleretic activity

Dicaffeoylquinic acids (DCCAs) and luteolin-7-O-β-D-glucuronide compounds of methanol extract of A. millefolium aerial parts showed a dose-dependent increase in bile salt flow (23-44-47 %) which are two-to-three fold higher than the standard cynarin [24].

Hepatoprotective activity

Aqueous methanol extract of A. millefolium aerial parts (150, 300, 600 mg/kg) administered intraperitoneally to D-galactosamine (D-GalN) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced hepatitis in BALB/c mice (20-25 g) significantly (p < 0.05) lowered the plasma alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase levels (150 mg/kg: 1815±121 and 1722±158; 300 mg/kg: 1637±193 and 1662±199; 600 mg/kg: 1455±195 and 1452±232 IU/L, respectively) in a dose-dependent manner with the absence of congestion and focal necrosis and cellular swelling improvement in liver of the extract treated mice [25].

Toxicity

No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation

Precautions

Persons with allergies to other members of the Asteraceae family (such as feverfew, chamomile, or Echinacea species) should exercise caution with yarrow, as allergic cross-reactivity is common to Asteraceae plants. [26] This oil of this herb can cause contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis as adverse effect may be connected to sesquiterpenes [30]. It is also thought to cause photosensitivity, but a review of the chemical constituents does not indicate why this would be true.

The oil of Achillea millefolium is considered to be mildly neurotoxic [21]. Avoid use of this oil orally if patient has epilepsy or fever.

Due to the high level of ketones present in this essential oil, it should not be used on babies, children under 5 years, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. The ketones are abortifacient.

Side effects

Sometimes, allergic reactions (e.g. dermatitis) and positive patch tests in sensitised people have been reported during ongoing therapy with A. millefolium [26][20], this is thought to be due to guaianolides and some sesquiterpene lactones α-peroxyachifolid [26][21].

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women without supervision of a healthcare professional [27]. Information regarding the safety of yarrow during pregnancy and lactation is limited. One animal study showed a decreased in fetal weight in offspring of rats administered high (2.8 g/kg) doses of yarrow, but no adverse effects were seen at lower doses [26]. Other study showed that yarrow when administered to rats at 56 times the human dose was associated with reduced fetal weight and increased placental weight [27].

Age limitation

Not to be used by children.

Adverse reaction

Contact dermatitis has occurred with exposure to A. millefolium. [26][28]

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

The use of A. millefolium as a digestive aid, hepatoprotectant and possible calcium channel blocker indicate that there may be possible drug-herb interactions though none are reported in the literature. [25]

Large doses may interact with anticoagulants, antihypertensive and antihypotensive medications. [20]

Interaction with other Herbs

Animal studies indicate that A. millefolium is generally safe for long-term use [29]. However, this herb should not be used in combination with any over the counter or prescription medication without consult with a pharmacist or physician.

Contraindications

Case Report

No documentation

Dosage

4.5 grams of crude dried herb daily.

Tea may be prepared using 5 to 10 grams of dried A. millefolium in 250 mL boiling water steeped for 15 minutes with a daily dosage of three cups per day. [31]

Dosage Range

No documentation

Most Common Dosage

No documentation

Standardisation

No documentation

Poisonous

No documentation

Line drawing

No documentation.

References

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  2. Lemmens RHMJ, Bunyapraphatsara N. Achillea millefolium L. In: L S de Padua, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens R H M J, editors. Plant resources of south-east Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher; 1999. p. 77-81
  3. Philipine Medicinal Plants. Yarrow. Achillea millefolium Linn. Wild. [homepage on the Internet] c2014. [updated 2014 Jun; cited 2014 Oct 14] Available from: http://www.stuartxchange.com/Milfoil.html
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  8. Suleimenov YM, Atazhanova GA, Ozek T, et al. Essential oil composition of three species of Achillea from Kazakhstan. Chem Nat Compd. 2001;37:447-450.
  9. Agnihotri VK, Lattoo SK, Thappa RK, et al. Chemical variability in the essential oil components of Achillea millefolium agg. from different Himalayan habitats (India). Planta Med. 2005;71(3):280-283.
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  11. Orav A, Arak E, Raal A. Phytochemical analysis of the essential oil of Achillea millefolium L. from various European Countries. Nat Prod Res. 2006;20(12):1082-1088.
  12. Benetis R. Variability of phenolic compounds in flowers of Achillea millefolium wild populations in Lithuania. Medicina (Kaunas). 2008;44(10):775-781.
  13. Vogel VJ. American Indian Medicine. Norman: University of Oklahama Press; 1970. p. 397
  14. Hamel, Paul B, Mary U. Cherokee plants and their uses - A 400 year history. Sylva, North Carolina: Herald Publishing Co.; 1975; p. 61-63.
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  17. Hart, Jeffrey A. The ethnobotany of the Northern Cheyenne Indians of Montana. J Ethnopharmacol. 1981;4(1):1-55.
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  20. Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy science: a guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006. p. 338-339.
  21. Schnaubelt K. Advanced aromatherapy: the science of essential oil therapy. Vermont: Healing Arts Press; 1995.
  22. Choudhary MI, Jalil S, Todorova M, et al. Inhibitory effect of lactone fractions and individual components from three species of the Achillea millefolium complex of Bulgarian origin on the human neutrophils respiratory burst activity. Nat Prod Res. 2007;21(11):1032-1036.
  23. Tajik D, Jalali FSS, Sobhani A, Shahbazi Y, Zadeh MS. In vitro assessment of antimicrobial efficacy of alcoholic extract of Achillea Millefolium in comparison with Penicillin derivatives. J Animal Vet Adv. 2008;7(4): 508-511.
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  25. Yaeesh S, Jamal Q, Khan AU, Gilani AH. Studies on hepatoprotective, antispasmodic and calcium antagonist activities of the aqueous-methanol extract of Achillea millefolium. Phytother Res. 2006;20(7):546-551.
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  29. Cavalcanti AM, Baggio CH, Freitas CS, et al. Safety and antiulcer efficacy studies of Achillea millefolium L. after chronic treatment in Wistar rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006; 107(2): 277-284.
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