A tincture is a concentrated herbal extract made from one or more herbs. It is typically made by soaking parts of the herb or herbs for weeks in alcohol or vinegar. Alcohol is usually the preferred liquid because it can extract water-insoluble components resins and alkaloids from the plants.
- What is a yarrow tincture?
- How to take yarrow tincture
- Precautions/Side effects
Tinctures have a history of use for millennia and they are a crucial part of traditional medicine.
They are a great and easy way to consume the chemicals in plants that have great health benefits (1, 2).
What is a yarrow tincture?
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a flowering plant native to temperate regions of Asia, Europe, and North America (3). Its genus Achillea is said to be named after Achilles the great warrior in Greek mythology, who is said to use yarrow to treat his soldier wounds (4). Yarrow tincture is therefore a herbal extract made by soaking the yarrow plant in alcohol.
Yarrow is loaded with many natural chemicals that make it a suitable herbal remedy for many ailments. Here are some of the established benefits of yarrow tincture.
1. Helps to heal wounds.
Yarrow has been used since the time of Ancient Greece, in poultices and ointments for the treatment of wounds. Women who applied yarrow for two weeks on surgical cuts they sustained on their vagina walls caused by childbirth had great healing results (5).
Medicinal plants like yarrow affect different phases of the healing process, coagulation, inflammation, and growth of fibrous tissue. Applying yarrow extracts topically on wounds showed a rapid reduction in wound sizes. Yarrow contains antioxidants that reduce inflammation, a vital process that aids the healing process of wounds significantly (6).
Furthermore, yarrow tinctures boost fibroblasts, which are cells primarily responsible for regenerating connective tissues. Connective tissues protect the surface of wounds from any microbial attacks and further injury. This helps the body recover quickly from injury (7).
2. Helps relieve digestive issues
Besides helping in wound healing, yarrow has also had an ancient history of use as a digestive aid used to treat stomach problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and ulcers, which are characterized by symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea. Yarrow tincture can protect the stomach against acid damage and has been shown to heal gastric ulcers with visible results as early as after 7 days (8).
Yarrow can hinder the contraction of the smooth muscles of the ileum, making it of great use for the elimination of intestinal spasms. These spasms cause abdominal pain, which is so mild to severe requiring medication. Yarrow tincture is therefore a natural remedy, causing stomach muscles to relax and bringing relief from pain (9).
Moreover, yarrow tincture contains bioactive compounds like flavonoids and alkaloids which are reputable in relieving digestive issues. Flavonoids inhibit inflammation in the digestive tract and enhance the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon. These bacteria reduce toxin production, enhance the absorption of nutrients, and maintain the immune homeostasis of the gut, vital for preventing the growth of pathogenic bacteria, that cause diseases and weaken the body (10).
Alkaloids on the other hand are helpful in restoring the epithelia barrier function. This barrier controls the passage of nutrients, electrolytes, and water into tissues while obstructing pathogens and toxins from coming in. Any compromise in this barrier can result in gastrointestinal diseases due to increased permeability of the intestines to pathogens (11).
3. Reduces depression and anxiety
Once again, the alkaloids and flavonoids in yarrow tincture are known to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Alkaloids decrease the secretion of the hormone corticosterone, whose levels in the body are usually elevated during chronic stress. Popular depression and anxiety symptoms include insomnia, eating disorders, decreased energy levels and disruption in cardiac rhythm such as increased palpitations (12).
Animal studies have also shown the effectiveness of yarrow extracts in relieving anxiety, with a daily improvement in mental and physical activity (13).
4. Improves brain health
Yarrow helps foster brain health by protecting the nerves from damage, thereby inhibiting neurodegenerative processes that cause diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain, caused by a viral infection) (14).
The flavonoids in yarrow are potent antioxidants that catch bad atoms called free radicals which damage body cells. These free radicals are highly reactive, so will react with other atoms quickly causing a large chain of chemical reactions in the body, a process known as oxidation. Prolonged oxidation overburdens the body leading to a massive buildup known as oxidative stress, which damages body cells. Thus, by capturing these free radicals, antioxidants reduce oxidative stress (15)
Oxidative stress quickens the ageing process as it damages body cells, as well as proteins, and DNA. Therefore, it can cause Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases because it causes the destruction of nerve cells. Luteolin, which is a flavonoid, inhibits the death of neurons (neurons), degeneration of cholinergic neurons and the formation of amyloid plaque, which all inhibit memory impairment in Alzheimer’s disease (16).
Clinical studies have shown that consuming foods rich in luteolin reduces the risk of stroke by significantly reducing the infarct volume. Taking luteolin supplements at least once a week has been proven to reduce the risk of stroke (17).
5. Helps to fight inflammation
Also already mentioned earlier, yarrow contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Though inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, chronic inflammation can damage cells, tissues, and even vital organs of the body. Yarrow can reduce liver inflammation, vital for treating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It can also reduce skin inflammation, treat skin infections and improve general skin health (18).
6. Aids in combating fever and flu
Yarrow tincture is a great remedy for fighting the flu and its associated symptoms like congestion and cough. Yarrow leaves gained popularity in the past for their effectiveness in relieving fever, hay fever and the common cold. They can induce sweating, which calms down fevers. In traditional times, it was used in making snuff, which is sniffed through the nostrils. Chewing their leaves was also a common practice to relieve toothaches (19).
7. Helps with menstrual cramps
Yarrow is also special to women because of its ability to relieve menstrual pain. It is because it relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus. It is also said to help with an irregular menstrual cycle, a condition called amenorrhea (20).
How to take yarrow tincture
If you buy yarrow tincture, it’s best to go with the prescription on the bottle or simply follow the directions prescribed by your Herbal Practitioner. If you made some by yourself or if no dosage is given, know that traditionally, 2 – 3ml can be taken, 2 – 3 times a day. (21). Also, the dosage taken can depend on the situation and the person concerned. Between 1/4 -1/2, a teaspoon can be taken 3 times a day for chronic situations. If the situation is acute, 1/4 teaspoon can be taken every one hour (22).
Yarrow tincture can also be added to drinking water, juice, or smoothies.
Pregnant women should not take yarrow tinctures orally. This is because it causes contraction of the smooth muscles of the uterus which can provoke a miscarriage. There is no data on whether breastfeeding mothers can take it, so until there is scientific clarity on it, breastfeeding mothers are advised to avoid it (19).
Yarrow helps slow down blood clotting, thus it may not be good for people with bleeding disorders as it can increase their risk for bleeding. For this same reason of slowing blood clotting, it should not be at least 2 weeks before surgery as it can increase bleeding during and after surgery (19).
People who are allergic to plants like ragweed, daisies, and other plants of the Asteraceae/Compositae family, might also be allergic to yarrow. As such, they may have reactions, to it if they consume it (19).
Yarrow tinctures increase the frequency of urination.
Yarrow interacts with lithium. It can act as a diuretic or water pill, decreasing the body’s efficacy in getting rid of lithium. As such there may be much more lithium in the body than normal, which could have serious side effects.
If you are taking any medications that slow blood clotting like aspirin, ibuprofen, heparin, and warfarin, it is not advisable to take yarrow tincture alongside. This is because yarrow also slows blood clotting, so the overall effect may increase bleeding when bruised (19).
Yarrow is a sedative and relaxant, which induces sleep and drowsiness as seen in the earlier discussions. Thus, taking sedatives like Barbiturates, alongside yarrow, will drastically increase sleepiness and drowsiness.
Yarrow also helps digestion by increasing the production of stomach acids. Thus, if you are taking any antacids, taking yarrow also will only cancel out the effect of such antacids. Thus, avoid antacids like calcium carbonate, Riopan, Amphojel and Bilagog when you are taking yarrow tincture.
Yarrow tincture is a great herbal extract with a long history of efficacy in alleviating many ailments, from mild to severe. The best way to take it is by placing it directly under the tongue where they enter the bloodstream quickly. Since they are very strong, you can dilute them in water, tea or even some juice. Once taken, try not to drink any other liquids for between 10 – 15 minutes, to let them sit in well (22).
Except for pregnant women and those with allergies, it is quite safe to consume as they are made from plants and alcohol only. Always check with your doctor to make they are not interacting with any medications you are taking, that way you can enjoy all its great benefits.
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- Pirbalouti, A. G., Koohpayeh, A., & Karimi, I. (2010). The wound healing activity of flower extracts of Punica granatum and Achillea kellalensis in Wistar rats. Acta poloniae pharmaceutica, 67(1), 107–110.
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