Sometimes I have clients in the Clinic who wonder, do plants really work?  Like anything, you have to try them to see.  (The answer is a definite Yes by the way!) 

With some people they work very fast; with others it may take a week or so.  And, of course, it all depends on their metabolism, their condition, how long someone has had that condition, what parts of the body are affected and the dosage.

I find I never know everything about every plant and in fact, there is always research showing something new as we investigate the plant world more and more.  The wonder of plants is they have a constant ability to surprise me.   Here’s an example.

I was recently using Yarrow as a mouthwash.  Yarrow is an astringent herb, so tightens body tissue.  The word comes from the Latin “adstringere” which means to bind fast.  And so it’s a great herb for gums as well as being antimicrobial.

After about a week of taking Yarrow I noticed my nails were growing very strongly.  I have nails that normally break before they get anywhere. But these nails were really long and strong.  I was wondering what caused it and went searching!

Yarrow contains silica and silica has been shown to have a positive effect on skin surface, skin mechanical properties and on brittleness of hair and nails (Barel et al, 2005).

It’s not normally a herb I would think of that would help with hair, nails and connective tissue (those herbs will be the subject of another blog), but that is exactly what Yarrow did. 

Now I am not sure if I want to stop it, but generally we don’t advise long-term use of herbs.  Especially herbs which contain tannins (such as Yarrow) as they can block absorption. So there you go, plants surprise us all the time – Yarrow for lovely nails!

If you are considering taking herbs, do consult a herbalist. This isn’t because we want business! It’s because some herbs work for some people and others don’t. We match the herb to you. It’s also because we generally combine herbs and get a synergistic effect greater than one herb alone! More information at

[1] Barel et al, Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin, Arch Dermatol Res (2005) 297: 147–153 DOI 10.1007/s00403-005-0584-6

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