Yarrow

 Achillea millefolium

Common Name: bloodwort, common yarrow, carpenter’s weed, knight’s milfoil, noble yarrow, old man’s pepper, nosebleed and staunchgrass.
 
Family: Asteraceae
TCM Name: Ya Luo
Ayurvedic Name: N/A
Parts Used: leaves, flowering tops, roots
Native To: Northern Hemisphere
IMG_6743

Medicinal Notes

“Thou pretty herb of Venus Tree
Thy true name is Yarrow
Now who my bosom friend must be
Pray tell thou me tomorrow”.

-Halliwell

According to The Alchemist’s Kitchen:

“One of the most fascinating things about Yarrow is that  it has been made use of for a very long time by humans. In fact, Yarrow was found amongst other medicinal herbs in a Neanderthal burial site in Iraq, which dates from around 60,000 BC .

Given this long historical use, which also includes traditional use in Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Native American Medicine, there is much folklore associated with this wonderful herb. Renowned Ayurvedic and Medical Herbalist Anne McIntyre shares the folklore of Achillea:

“Yarrow is one of the finest and most versatile healing plants, and respected as such since at least the time of the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Dioscorides, the Greek physician, writing in the 1st century AD referred to the healing properties of yarrow for battle wounds.”

The name yarrow is apparently derived from hieros, which means sacred, because of the plant’s association with ceremonial magic. Yarrow was thought to be richly endowed with spiritual properties, so it was preserved in temples and treated with special reverence. Its healing effect upon the blood was seen as an ability to influence the ‘life—blood’, the essence or ego that is carried in the blood. It was used as an amulet, a charm to protect against negative energy and evil, capable of overcoming the forces of darkness and being a conductor of benevolent powers. It was also believed to be a love charm and to be ruled by the planet Venus. In folklore, a maiden who places yarrow under her pillow and repeats the rhyme below will dream of her future husband.”

Yarrow’s botanical name Achillea refers to the ancient Greek hero Achilles who during the Trojan War, legend says, used yarrow to treat his and his soldier’s wounds. Throughout, history until the First World War, yarrow has been used for treating wounds, hence its common names soldiers’ woundwort and staunchweed.’

In China, yarrow stalks were used to reawaken the spiritual forces of the superconscious mind during ritual divination using the I Ching. “

Harvesting

Identifying Yarrow

Yarrow is a member of the family Asteraceae. It is an erect herbaceous perennial plant that produces one to several stems with a rhizomatous growth form. The leaves are evenly distributed along a stem with leaves also near the middle and bottom of stems. They vary in hairiness, are almost feathery, and are arranged spirally on stems. Leaves are cauline and are more or less clasping. Yarrow has a strong sweet scent similar to chrysanthemums with a relatively short life. Stems are angular and rough. The plant flowers from June to September. It can grow up to three feet in height.

Constituents

Yarrow contains Alpha Pinene, Acetate, Borneol, Beta Pinene, Borneol, Cineole, Camphene, Camphor, Gamma Terpinene, Isoartemisia Ketone, Chamazulene, Limonene, Sabinene and Tricyclene.

Uses

According to The Practical Herbalist:

“Yarrow isn’t just for scrapes and bruises, it does wonders to reduce fever and clear the sinuses. This plant is the first in line for treating nasty colds and flu. It reduces sweating and treats diarrhea that can accompany illness. The same anti-inflammatory properties in this plant’s volatile oils that reduce swelling in angry wounds also fights bacterial infections. Yarrow has both tannins and salicyclic acid, which accounts for its noticeable astringency. This is one of the compounds that reduces both internal and external bleeding.

Yarrow compresses to the eyes of patients (without yarrow allergies) sharpen blurred vision due to swollen tissue. Do not get yarrow in the eye itself as it will cause further irritation. Just a warm yarrow tea bag or bit of yarrow wrapped in cheesecloth will do.

Since yarrow is so widespread, it makes the perfect medicine for hikers and hunters. Chewing a few of the bitter leaves will help alleviate a toothache until you can get to a dentist. Rubbing the leaves onto your temples will do wonders to subside a headache. Insect bites and nettle burns also relax under yarrow’s charms.

The use of yarrow for treating bruises and pain due to inflammation is legendary. Yarrow has many common names that reveal its history on the battlefield: soldier’s woundwort, bloodwort, and nosebleed plant are just a few. People have used yarrow’s anti-inflammatory actions for hemorrhoids and varicose veins for quick relief. The strengthening effect on the blood vessels make yarrow a wonderful plant to administer as a daily tonic for patient who easily bruise.

Yarrow makes an excellent first-aid poultice for deep cuts and wounds, too. It’s been known to help deep cuts heal with little to no scarring and can help the flesh even and connect after puncture wounds. It may be used in a mouth rinse to prevent dry socket after a tooth extraction. Just add a few drops to a few tablespoons of warm water, gargle and rinse.

Yarrow flower essence, especially pink yarrow flower essence, is quite good at helping empathic people (and others) to release emotional energies they’ve picked up from their environment, family and friends, and from work situations. I’ve found it a useful tool for recovering after attending large functions ranging from parties to conventions, too. Yarrow flower essence is a powerful ally for people in care-providing situations and professions, highly empathic people, and for young children. The list of treatments with yarrow seems to be limited only by the herbalist’s imagination.”

Yarrow is an herb we harvest regularly as a family. Both pink and white Yarrow grow in patches around lakes and forest entrances by our house. I often pick so much that our dehydrator can’t handle the volume. Luckily, yarrow dries great just by hanging it upside down. I use our grain mill to grind yarrow to a fine powder to be applied to fresh bleeding wounds in order to staunch the flow of blood, clean the wound and start the healing process. I use our juicer to grind the herb for tea, especially our Fever Doctor Tea. Yarrow plays a big part in my Veins Away Salve. I even use it to prevent or remedy under-eye bags. Yarrow tincture is used for compresses and liniments to expedite healing and disinfect wounds. Yarrow is in my travel first aid kit as it is useful for a host of ailments, form wounds to stomach flu, to fevers and sinusitis.

Yarrow, its scent and its medicinal power, is always a joyful sight when walking through meadow or forest. It is a reminder that there is treasure everywhere and it helps me feel connected to those who have walked the path of plants ages before me.

Protocol
Ways to Use: Tincture, infusion, infused oil, powder, salve, compress
Actions: Diaphoretic, stimulant, mild aromatic, diuretic, analgesic, vulnerary, antiseptic, antibacterial, hypotensive, hypoglycemic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, emmenagogue, tonic, styptic and bitter.
Taste:  bitter, pungent, acrid 
Energy: warm, drying
Dosing
Adult Dose

 Tincture: 1:5; 40% ethanol): 2-4 ml three times a day

Tea: 3g in one day as tea or infusion .

External applications: salve, compress, powder or wash as needed.

 

Safety

Allergies to yarrow are possible, especially for those allergic to flowers from the Asteraceae family. It should not be taken in large doses during pregnancy, but it is sometimes appropriate in small doses at that time.

 

2 Comments on “Yarrow

  1. Do the local people where you live use it as a medicinal herb? Even though it is an ancient medicinal herb, this one has been lost in the westernization of medicine even in our adopted culture in Central Europe.

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