Can Yarrow help with irritable bowel syndrome?

Kate Harris
Trainee Herbalist, Reflexologist, Yoga Teacher, Writer & Product Trainer

21 April 2022

Can Yarrow help with irritable bowel syndrome?

Historically, the herb yarrow has been used as a digestive aid. Nowadays, science proves that yarrow helps with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) because of its ability to improve gastric secretions, along with its anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects in the gut. Yarrow also contains flavonoids and alkaloids, known to relieve digestive complaints.

How does Yarrow help with irritable bowel syndrome?

Common symptoms of IBS include stomach pain, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and excessive flatulence.

Yarrow helps with these symptoms because it can stimulate the entire digestive tract, supporting the flow of digestive enzymes and helping to remove waste. At the same time Yarrow has a calming anti spasmodic action which helps with cramping and abdominal discomfort.

For more details on IBS symptoms and treatment have a read of Emma's blog here.

Let's take a closer look at how Yarrow can help IBS, including what research shows about the supportive herb.

Yarrow supports the liver

Yarrow is known as a hepatoprotective herb. (1) This means it protects the liver from toxins. By unburdening the liver, bitters help the liver to work more efficiently.

The liver plays a key role in many body processes, one of which is digestion; so, improving your liver function will improve digestion.

Yarrow is bitter

Yarrow is said to be a bitter herb and bitters are great for IBS symptoms. They work by triggering taste receptors in your tongue to increase bile flow, known as a cholagogue in herbal medicine. (2)

Increased bile flow is great for IBS sufferers, as bile is what breaks down fats during digestion. Feelings of fullness, bloating and nausea after eating can be helped by more efficient breakdown of fats. Yarrow is great for abdominal bloating and has been used in this way for a long time.

Yarrow for intestinal spasm

Intestinal spasm and cramping are painful and common symptoms of IBS. Research confirms the traditional use of Yarrow as an anti-spasmodic, showing its ability to stop intestinal spasm and cramps. (3) (4)

Yarrow is anti-inflammatory

Yarrow has an astringent action that makes it useful for countering intestinal inflammation. This can be really helpful in relieving gastrointestinal upset and diarrhoea where inflammation plays a part. (5)

Yarrow is healing

Traditionally, Yarrow has been said to tone blood vessels and heal intestinal membranes. An animal study indicates Yarrow could help heal intestinal ulcers with its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. (6)

While ulceration does not usually go hand in hand with IBS, this study suggests and confirms the traditional knowledge that Yarrow has the potential for healing the intestinal mucosa.

This could be especially helpful for people whose IBS symptoms stem from leaky gut.

Yarrow for bacterial overgrowth

Stomach acid is vital for protecting against infectious agents and digesting food but also for preventing bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.

Having enough stomach acid is especially important when addressing IBS that may have a bacterial overgrowth component.

Yarrow helps with the secretion of stomach acid. (7) So, it not only improves the whole digestive cascade but could counter unwanted intestinal bacteria too.


Some people experience sensitivity to Yarrow and other plants in the daisy family, so don't take Yarrow if you are allergic to the daisy family of plants.

Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines for use and avoid in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

How to take Yarrow

Yarrow can be taken as tea, drops, tablets or capsules. For digestive complaints, I recommend taking Yarrow in drop format as it will be absorbed and get to work much quicker than tablets or capsules.

We need to taste the bitterness of Yarrow for the plant's digestive benefits to be felt. Which is another reason I recommend taking Yarrow drops over tablets or capsules.

 For IBS sufferers, it can be helpful to take Yarrow combined with a relaxing herb such as lemon balm to address the psychological symptoms IBS can induce and/or stem from.

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