Common names: milfoil, yarrow, mousetail, boneflower, thousandleaf, medical yarrow.
The milfoil is a 50-80 cm high herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the family of Asteraceae, with white flowers and with smell of camphor. It overwinters through its rhizome. The leaves are located dispersedly on the stem. It blooms from June until late autumn.
This medicinal plant was known already in the ancient times and used by ancient doctors. According to Dioscoride it is the best haemostatic and can be used for any kind of wounds and ulceration. Hippocrates recommended milfoil hip-bath for bleeding hemorrhoids. Its Latin name (Achillea) refers to the fact that Achilles used this plant in order to remedy the bleeding wounds of his fellows. By the Celts milfoil was a cult plant, they had a special ritual to collect it.
Its astringent effect is thanks to one of its active substances, called tannin. Beside this some other substances make milfoil being a very useful plant in our home pharmacy: flavonoids, alkaloids, cumarin and its volatile substance, as well as azulene. Its high proazulene content is heritable attribute, changing from one plant to the other. Its level is not proportional with the volatile substance content. The species bred for cultivation contain a medium level of active substances (40-60% of volatile azulene).
The drug becomes either from the 30-40 cm long sprouts picked with the white flowers on the top (Achilleae herba) or the flowers picked with a 3-4 cm long stem (Achilleae flos). One can gain 1 kg of dried drug form 4 kg of sprouts or 6 kg of fresh flowers.
It is an excellent anti-inflammatory, can be used in case of vagina and uterus inflammations, for the mucous membrane and gingivitis. It is a good astringent, heals wounds. It soothes menstrual cramps and decreases bleeding. It can also be used for abdominal pains, tympanitis and it is a good appetite enhancer. At the same time milfoil stimulates gall liquid production. It is indispensable in case of diseases of the urinary and respiratory tracts.
Make a light milfoil tea from a teaspoon of dry drug and 2,5 dl water for stomach cramps. Drink one cup of this before breakfast and dinner, twice a week. Later on continue with 2 cups, once a week for a whole month. Liver- and gall-bladder diseases can be treated in the same way: drink one cup of tea on an empty stomach every second morning for two weeks. In case of large but irregular period, drink one cup of tea in the mornings for 2-3 weeks before and during your period. For ovary, cervix or uterus inflammation drink 3 cups of tea per day, before main meals. If it is not a candida inflammation, you may use milfoil as a hip-bath (use 2,5 dl tea daily, in two parts, mornings and evenings). In case of candida infection vaginal irrigation is not recommended, since the irrigator cannot be properly disinfected. Keep the tea in the vagina as long as you can (for instance use a tampon while sitting in the bath with uplifted legs).
For climax mix it with shepherd’s purse, lady’s mantle, lavender, lemongrass, hop and hawthorn in order to gain a harmonizing effect. Drink one cup before going to bed.
In order to enhance appetite drink one cup of milfoil tea before your meal. If you drink it after you meal, it will help digestion and stimulate gall liquid production.
For bleeding hemorrhoid prepare a hip bath of 2 spoons of dried drug and 2 l of water. Sit into the bath not longer than 20 minutes.
For urinary tract infections drink one cup of tea weekly before your meal 4 weeks long. Pay attention that you consume enough fluid, since the stagnant urine is a real seed-bed for bacteria. In case of diseases of the respiratory tract you can use milfoil for inhalation: make a tea of 1 l of water and 1 spoon of dried drug and inhale fume. Drink one cup of tea daily for one week.
Milfoil can be used externally: the freshly crushed leaves stop the small wounds bleeding. For larger wounds use it as a poultice.
Tincture: push 3-4 handfuls of fresh milfoil flower into a jar and pour on with schnapps of 40% alcohol content. Keep the jar closed on a warm place for 2 weeks.
Unguent: warm 90 g of unsalted butter, add 15 g of freshly minced milfoil flower, 15 g minced strawberry leaves and fry them over. After one night warm this mixture again and squeeze through a canvas. Put it into a clean jar and keep in the refrigerator. It can be used for eyes, face cream or emollient.
We dispose of relatively little bibliography about this frequently used medicinal plant even though it proved to be very useful in many cases. Its tea and volatile oil have anti-inflammatory effects, while the azulene content of the flower sooths allergies. The sesquiterpene lactones contained by milfoil have anticancer effects. The achilein and flavonoid agents are used as haemostatic for internal and external bleedings. Most probably the flavonoids are responsible also for its antispasmodic effect.
It is important to know that it might cause mugwort cross-allergy, what means that if someone is allergic to mugwort, most probably will be allergic to milfoil too. The volatile oil content of the flower may cause strong headache, diseasedness, nausea, that is why its consumption is not recommended.
By those sensible the pure touch of the plant might cause an irritation, while its tea causes an itching skin irritation. For someone with allergies the consumption of this plant or any of its preparations is strictly forbidden.