Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.): A Neglected Panacea? A Review of Ethnobotany, Bioactivity, and Biomedical Research1

Abstract

Yarrow ( Achillea millefolium L.): A Neglected Panacea? A Review of Ethnobotany, Bioactivity, and Biomedical Research. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.) is one of the most widely used medicinal plants in the world, primarily for wounds, digestive problems, respiratory infections, and skin conditions, and secondarily, among other uses, for liver disease and as a mild sedative. Preclinical studies indicate that it may have anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, hepatoprotective, anxiolytic, and perhaps antipathogenic activities. Animal studies have also shown that yarrow is generally safe and well tolerated. The claim that yarrow has been shown to be specifically contraindicated during pregnancy is based on a single low-quality rat study the results of which were incorrectly interpreted. The combination of human use data from multiple cultures, independently reporting similar activities for yarrow, and the discovery of potentially relevant bioactivities by in vitro and animal studies represent meaningful evidence of the plant’s efficacy. We therefore argue that human clinical trials should be funded and conducted.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Brad Bennett, Alain Touwaide, Emanuela Appettiti, and several sharp-eyed anonymous reviewers; all helped with important elements of the paper. Bob Voeks, editor of Economic Botany, modified the production schedule to help us add late-breaking issues.

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Applequist, W.L., Moerman, D.E. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.): A Neglected Panacea? A Review of Ethnobotany, Bioactivity, and Biomedical Research1 . Econ Bot 65, 209 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12231-011-9154-3

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Key Words

  • Achillea millefolium
  • ethnobotany
  • medicinal plants
  • toxicology
  • yarrow