Specification & Spread

Milfoil herb — herba millefolii
Milfoil flowers — flores millefolii
Common milfoil — achillea millefolium l.
Composite family – asteraceae (compositae)
Other names: yarrow, soldier herb, nose-bleed, old-man’s-pepper, tenacious herb, snake herb, fragrant herb, achillea.

It is a perennial herbaceous plant with a long and rooting rhizome.
The stems are erect or ascending, 20-100 cm tall, branched at the top, with shortened leafy twigs in the axils of the upper and middle leaves. The leaves are alternate, 10–15 cm long, with a general outline of lanceolate, oblong, twice or three times pinnate, with two or three-cut segments and almost linear end lobes, below with dotted glands. The radical leaves are pedicellate, the pedicellate ones are sessile.
The flowers are gathered in calathidium, the latter form a corymbose inflorescence. The calathidium is up to 5 mm long, consist of 5 false-tongued white or pink and 14-20 tubular yellowish-white flowers.
The fruit is an achene.

It blooms from June to late summer, the fruits ripen in August – September.

Together with the milfoil, the closest species of the milfoil is Asian milfoil.(Achillea asiatica Serg.).
It is distinguished by closely approximated primary segments of the leaf, pink or dark pink false-lingual flowers, looser scutes. The chemical composition and pharmacological properties of Asian milfoil are close to those of milfoil, used and harvested along with it.

Spreading. In the European part of the country it grows everywhere, except for the northern regions and desert places. It grows in Siberia, the range reaches up to 68º E. In Eastern Siberia and the Far East of Russia, there are isolated growing areas.

Habitat. It grows in forest, forest-steppe and steppe zones in upland meadows, in forest belts, in fallow lands, near roads, in fields and gardens, sometimes forms continuous thickets.


The chemical composition of milfoil

Milfoil herb contains up to 0.8% essential oil, which includes:

  • mono- (tuyol, zineol, camphor) and
  • sesquiterpenoids.

In addition to the essential oil, 12 sesquiterpene lactones were isolated from the leaves and inflorescences, from some of them, the so-called prochamazulenes, during the distillation of the essential oil, chamazulene is formed, giving the oil a dark blue colour.

There are also found:

  • flavonoids,
  • tannins,
  • vitamin k,
  • polyacetylenes,
  • sterols,
  • triterpene alcohols,
  • as well as basic substances (betonitsin, achillein, stachydrin, etc.).

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The herb is harvested in the flowering phase (June – first half of August), cutting off sickles, knives or secateurs with floral bearing leafy tops of the shoots up to 15 cm long, without coarse, leafless stems. In the thickets, harvesting can be carried out with scythes, and then milfoil herb should be selected from the mown mass. Milfoil flowers are also allowed for medical use. When harvesting inflorescences, the shields with peduncle are cut no longer than 2 cm and individual flower calathidium. The steppe species is not subject to harvesting – noble milfoil (Achillea nobilis L.), distinguished by oblong-elliptical, twice pinnate leaves with a small number (7-10) pairs of primary segments, thick greyish-felt pubescence and a short oblique rhizome (Fig. 5.57).

Security measures. You can not pull out plants with roots, as this leads to the destruction of thickets. With the right blanks on the same areas, you can carry out the harvesting for several years in a row, then the thickets are given a «rest» for 1-2 years.

Drying. The raw milfoil is dried in the open air under the sheds, in attics, spreading it out in a thin layer (5-7 cm) and occasionally stirring. The heat drying is allowed at the raw material heating temperature up to 40 ºС. The end of drying is determined by the fragility of the stems. When it is dried, the flowers are easily crushed.

Storage. The raw materials are stored in dry, cool rooms on racks or scaffold poles by the rules of storing essential oil raw materials packed in bales. The shelf life of whole and crushed herb is 3 years, the powder is 2 years.

Whole raw materials

There are solid or partially crushed flowering shoots up to 15 cm long. The stems are round, pubescent, with alternate leaves. The leaves are up to 10 cm long, up to 3 cm wide, oblong, twice or thrice pinnate on lanceolate or linear segments.
The calathidium is oblong-ovate, 3-4 mm long, 1.5-3 mm wide, in corymbose inflorescences or single. The calathidium cover consists of an imbricate oblong-ovate leaves with webbed brownish edges. The common bed of calathidium is with membranous bracts. There are 5 Edge false-lingual flowers, the median tubular – 14-20.
The colour of the stems and leaves is greyish green, the marginal flowers are white, less often pink, and the middle ones yellowish. The smell is weak and fragrant.
The taste is spicy and bitter.

Milled raw materials

The pieces of calathidium, separate flowers, leaves, stems of various shapes are passing through a sieve with holes of 7 mm diameter. The colour is greyish-green with whitish-yellow patches.
The smell is weak and fragrant.
The taste is spicy and bitter.


The particles of stems, inflorescences, flowers, leaves are passing through a sieve with holes 2 mm in diameter. The colour is greyish-green with whitish-yellow patches. The smell is weak and fragrant. The taste is spicy and bitter.


When examining the sheet, epidermis cells are seen from the surface, somewhat elongated along the length of the leaf segment, with sinuous walls and folded cuticle; the epidermis on the lower side is characterized by smaller cells and strongly sinuous walls. The stoma on both sides of the leaf, mainly on the bottom, is surrounded by 3-5 cells of the epidermis (anomocytic type). On both sides of the leaf, especially on the bottom, there are numerous hairs and essential oil glands. The hairs are simple, at the base they have 4-7 short cells with thin walls, the final cell of the hair is long, slightly sinuous, with a thick wall and a narrow filamentous cavity, often broken off as the raw materials. The glands consist of 8 (rarely 6) excretory cells located in 2 rows and 4 (less often 3) tiers. The leaf veins are accompanied by secretory passages with yellowish granular or oily contents.

Properties and application

Pharmacotherapeutic group. Hemostatic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic agent.
Pharmacological properties of milfoil

The variety of biologically active substances in the milfoil herb causes the many-sided pharmacological effects of this raw material.
The most famous hemostatic properties of plants due to the content of vitamin K and betonitsina. Achillein also has hemostatic properties. However, the mechanism of increasing blood coagulability under the influence of milfoil preparations is not entirely clear, since its use does not lead to the formation of thrombi. Hemostatic properties manifest as when taking medications yarrow inside, and when applied externally.

Due to the bitter taste caused by Achillein, milfoil stimulates the secretion of the salivary glands, enhances the secretion of gastric juice, bile secretion. In addition, milfoil preparations reduce flatulence.

Milfoil herb has:

  • anti-inflammatory,
  • antiallergic,
  • bactericidal,
  • wound healing effect, due to the presence in the plant azulenov, tannins and flavonoids.


  • relieves spasms,
  • stomach,
  • intestines,
  • bile ducts,
  • urinary tract,
  • tones up the muscles of the uterus.

When it is applied topically, milfoil  preparations have an
ti-burn properties.

Application of milfoil

Milfoil preparations are used for:

  • gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer,
  • colitis,
  • acute and chronic dysentery,
  • hepatitis,
  • cholecystitis.

Milfoil is also used:

  • when flatulence in combination with the fruits of cumin, dill and rhizomes with valerian roots.
  • With nephrological and urological diseases accompanied by hematuria (acute and chronic cystitis, urethritis, pyelonephritis, etc.),
  • with uterine bleeding on the basis of fibroids, inflammatory processes.

Infusion, liquid extract or juice of milfoil apply topically:

  • with nosebleeds, minor cuts, abrasions, scratches.

For bleeding from an eroded cervix, tampons moistened with sterile infusion of milfoil are used.
When inflammation of hemorrhoids and bleeding hemorrhoids impose wipes soaked in a cold infusion of milfoil.

Increased blood clotting, thrombosis, pregnancy and lactation, individual intolerance.