The medicinal parts are the fresh leaves, the branch twig tips, and the branches.
Flower and Fruit
The flowers are inconspicuous and dioecious. The male florets appear in autumn in yellowish catkins in the axils of the annual needle. The female florets, with only 1 pistil, are on short pedicles, which have scalelike high leaves. The hard, pea-sized, dark-brown seed is surrounded by a crimson, pulpy, beaker-shaped, sweet, and edible aril.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The Yew may be a bush or small tree approximately 17 m high with a trunk diameter of over 1 m. The trunk has red-brown bark. The numerous branches are crowded and evergreen. The needles are 2 to 3 cm long, arranged in double rows, soft, and acute. They are glossy dark green above, have a distinct midrib, and are lighter green beneath, matte, with no resin.
Yew is poisonous.
The plant is common in large areas of Europe as far as Anatolia and Sicily.
Yew leaves are the needles of Taxus baccata.
Chinwood, Common Yew, English Yew, European Yew
Actions & Pharmacology
Diterpene esters of the taxane-type (mixture is known as taxine, 0.6-2.0%): including among others, taxine A, taxine B, taxol
Flavonoids: including among others, sciadopytisin, ginkgetin, sequoia flavone (biflavonoids)
In animal experiments, the taxin, a mixture of different ester alkaloids, leads to an improvement in cardiac metabolism. The motility-inhibiting effect may be attributable to the biflavonoid fraction. In higher doses the drug is cardiotoxic and can cause tachycardiac arrhythmia leading to diastolic cardiac arrest.
Indications & Usage
The cooked Yew leaves are used to promote menstruation; to treat diphtheria, epilepsy, worm infestation, and tonsillitis; and as an abortifacient. The plants are highly toxic and their use is not recommended.
The drug is used for poor digestion and skin pustules.
The drug is considered an abortifacient and therefore should not be used during pregnancy.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
The drug is severely toxic: 50-100 g Yew needles (fresh weight) are fatal for an adult. The red seed coat of the berries, although not the green seed, is free of toxic taxane derivatives.
Use in Pregnancy
The drug is used as an abortifacient.
Symptoms of poisoning include queasiness, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and feelings of vertigo, followed later by unconsciousness, mydriasis, reddening of the lips, tachycardia, and superficial breathing. Death results from asphyxiation and diastolic cardiac arrest.
Following gastrointestinal emptying (inducement of vomiting, gastric lavage with burgundy-colored potassium permanganate solution, sodium sulphate) and use of activated charcoal, treatment for poisonings consists of treating spasms with diazepam or barbital (IV). In case of shock, plasma volume expanders should be infused. The administration of lidocaine has proven effective in cardiac rhythm disorders. Monitoring of kidney function, blood coagulation and liver values is necessary. Intubation and oxygen respiration may also be necessary.
Mode of Administration
Yew is used in homeopathic dilutions of the mother tincture.
5 drops, 1 tablet, or 10 globules, every 30 to 60 minutes (acute) or 1 to 3 times daily (chronic); parenterally: 1 to 2 ml sc, acute: 3 times daily; chronic: once a day (HAB1).
The mother tincture should be protected from light.