Medicinal Herb Post #17 written June 21, 2018
Yarrow – Achilliea millefolium
Are you ready for this list of amazing benefits? Yarrow is one of those plants that almost does it all! First, it is a perennial that reseeds itself easily, so once established it will be there for good if you let it. It prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. It is happy with lots of water or dry conditions. Some herbalists believe the wild white variety holds the best medicinal benefits, but one herbalist in particular, Dr. Patrick Jones (Veterinarian and Herbalist) hasn’t seen a difference in his practice using other hybrid varieties. Yarrow contains the most amount of medicine when it blooms especially after a 3 week drought.
Yarrow is a fabulous antiseptic (good for infections), anodyne (topical pain), antihemorrhagic and styptic (meaning it stops bleeding internally and externally), anticatarrhal (removes mucus from the upper respiratory tract), anti-inflammatory (which can help with pain reduction), astringent (tightens and tones inflamed tissues, this also helps with pain), diaphoretic (induces perspiration to help the body eliminate waste and break a fever when taken as a warm tea), emmenagogue (stimulates menstrual activity and is useful for easing cramps and heavy bleeding, for this reason it should not be used during pregnancy), hepatic (strengthens and tones the liver), hypotensive (decreases blood pressure), and is a nervine stimulant.
Yarrow can be used for varicose veins and hemorrhoids to help tighten and tone tissues. It helps to clear hormones from the liver, decreasing PMS symptoms. Yarrow is wonderful used for lessening the duration of a cold or flu when used with elder and peppermint. It is diaphoretic, helping one sweat out a fever. Bathe in yarrow tea and Epsom salts. Wrap up in blanket and drink more warm yarrow tea to make a fever more productive driving out a fever within 20 minutes. According to Matthew Wood, it can be used to draw out rashes associated with chicken pox and measles, helping one to heal faster.
There are so many things you can do with Yarrow. I use it in skin salves for healing wounds of all kinds. I recently used the yellow hybrid variety to stop bleeding on my son’s face who was accidentally hit by a rock above his nose. He probably needed 2 stitches, but instead I used yarrow and a butterfly bandage and you can barely see where he got hit. George Washington had his soldiers carry the dry powdered herb with them during the Revolutionary war to stop bleeding. The dry powder was carried by soldiers up through the first world war. The dry herb works well for nosebleeds too. I know of midwives that use it along with Shepard’s purse to stop hemorrhaging only after a woman delivers her baby. Dr. Jones uses it to save animals from bleeding out in his Vet practice.
My son went hiking with me over the summer and was stung by a bee. We immediately went looking for yarrow. I had him chew up some leaves and place the spit poultice on the sting, then swallow his spit. The antihistamine properties worked immediately. The sting went away and he never swelled up. Two weeks later he was at a friend’s house and was stung again. He didn’t put yarrow on it and his foot swelled up pretty big. He had to have Benadryl to bring down the swelling and it didn’t go away completely for 5 days. Yarrow is truly one of the best first aid herbs there is. I keep the tincture with me in my first aid kit.