Yarrow

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yarrow bloom
a lovely yarrow bloom

Botanical: Achillea millefolium

Family: Asteraceae

parts used: aerial parts

actions: anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, stimulant, styptic, tonic

common names: Bloodwort, Carpenter’s Weed, Devil’s Nettle, Field Hop, Little Feather, Knight’s Milfoil, Milfoil, Nosebleed Plant,Old Man’s Pepper, Soldier’s Woundwort, Sanguinary, Staunchweed, Thousand-Seal, Warrior Plant, Ya Luo

Yarrow’s genus name comes from the Greek warrior, Achilles. Achilles’ mother bathed him in a bath of yarrow to keep him protected but was holding on to his heel while she dunked him in! And so, Achilles’ heel didn’t get the magical protection of yarrow. The word “Achillea” refers to He brought it to the battlefield and said that he used yarrow for himself and for his soldiers. “Millefolium” means “coming of a thousand leaves”.

Matthew Wood says ….

“Here is one of the great mainstays of western herbalism, one of the most important plants… yarrow.

yarrow foliage
yarrow leaves and stems

Yarrow in the Garden

Yarrow is a good companion plant in the vegetable garden. Its root secretions are said to be strengthening to other plants and actually make them more disease resistant.

How to Use Yarrow

Cherokee

Squirrel Tail, or Saloli gatoga (Yarrow) has many uses. The best known use is to stop excess bleeding. Freshly crushed leaves can be applied to open wounds or cuts, and the properties of the herb will cause the blood to clot. A fresh juice of yarrow, diluted with spring or distilled water, can halt internal bleeding such as stomach and intestinal disorders. The leaves, prepared as a tea, is believed to stimulate intestinal functions and aid in digestion. It also helps the flow of the kidneys, as well as the gallbladder. A decoction made of the leaves and stems acts as an astringent, and is a wonderful wash for all kinds of skin problems such as acne, chapped hands, and other irritations.[1]

The plant was widely used in the traditional herbal medicine by Native Americans. Yarrow was very popular as a leaf vegetable during the seventeenth century. Yarrow was also used as herb in cooking. AND…(deep breath) it had the greatest number of indications among all herbs in use during the nineteenth century. Can we say more good about this herb?

Yes! We can!

Yarrow is easy as pie to grow. If you find the plant growing in an open field, know that it transplants easily.

It is sometimes considered to be a weedy species by gardeners. It flowers in May and June.

Using Yarrow for Wellness

yarrow with blooms
single yarrow plant, blooming

Yarrow has been used as a powerful healing herb plant for centuries.

Yarrow fights bacteria. Yarrow has an antiseptic action.

The bitter parts and fatty acids encourage bile flow out of the gallbladder, known as a cholagogue.
The free-flowing action improves digestion and it is said that it prevents gallstones from forming.

decongestant Yarrow contains a drying effect and seems to improve coughs and sinus infections with sputum formation.

astringent Very helpful with allergies where nasal secretions and watery eyes are caused by molds, dust, pollen and dander. Yarrow is also known to cause sweating in cases of flu, fevers and colds, helping to cure simple infections.

infusion Yarrow is used to aid in healing skin conditions, such as eczema.

anti-inflammatory The oil found in the yarrow has been used to treat arthritis.

expectorant Yarrow Tea is an excellent aid for colds, it helps sooth a fever, coughs, as well as sore throats. Yarrow has also proven very helpful in removing heat and toxins from the system by increasing perspiration.

promotes digestion Helps in the secretion of enzymes and digestive juice and increases appetite; both help in digestion.

Yarrow Uses

  • Their leaves are applied on wounds to stop the blood flow. A strong tea may be taken for internal bleeding.
  • Its anti-inflammatory action will reduce swelling and heal inflamed cuts or wounds.
  • Yarrow is widely used as a remedy for fever, cold and influenza.
  • The plants are beneficial for digestive, excretory, circulatory, and urinary systems.
  • Yarrow’s fragrant flowers are used in potpourri as dry flower and other decorative ideas.
  • Yarrow flowers are also used for treating various allergic problems including hay fever because of their anti-allergenic properties.
  • The essential oil extraction of the Yarrow plants has anti inflammatory properties.
  • They are considered to be very useful as companion plants to other more valuable plants because of their repellent ability against various harmful insects.
  • These flowering plants attract good insects that help in pollination and fight pests.
  • Yarrow plants are often grown in poor infertile soils in order to improve the quality of the soil.
  • They help to improve the condition of sick plants that grow near them.
  • Their leaves are considered to be fine fertilizer and are used as an additive in composts.
  • Yarrow contains salicylic acid, isovaleric acid, sterols, bitters, asparagin, tannins, coumarins and flavonoids.

Dose: 1 teaspoon of dried aerial parts in 8 ounces of hot water, steep covered 20-30 minutes, drink up to 3 cups/day; 2-5 mL of a 1:5 tincture 3x/day

Safety:

  • Pregnant women should not use yarrow as its ability to relax the smooth muscle of the uterus could cause miscarriage.
  • Yarrow can produce photosensitivity, and should be used with caution by those with allergies or sensitivities to plants in the Asteraceae family.

Video! Learn how to use the herb yarrow. Presented by herbalists Roy Upton, David Winston, Matthew Wood, Robin DiPasquale and Brigitte Mars.

“Thou pretty herb of Venus’ tree,

Thy true name it is Yarrow;
Now who my bosom friend must be,

Pray tell thou me to-morrow.”
~ Halliwell’s Popular Rhymes

Resources:

  1. Cherokee Medicinal Herbs. http://www.cherokee.org/AboutTheNation/Culture/General/CherokeeMedicinalHerbs.aspx. Accessed February 09, 2015.
  2. Silvermand, Maida “A City Herbal” pp.162-168
  3. Ura. (2016) Yarrow | University of Maryland Medical Center. June 26, 2014 from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/yarrow
  4. Final report on the safety assessment of Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Extract. Int J Toxicol. 2001;20 Suppl 2:79-84. Review
  5. Nemeth E, Bernath J. Biological activities of yarrow species (Achillea spp.). Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14:3151-67.
  6. Rotblatt M, Ziment I. Evidence-Based Herbal Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Hanley & Belfus, Inc.; 2002:369-371