The uncomplicated stems of yarrow bear scented bi-pinnately separated and cut up leaves making them resemble feathery lace. A yarrow herb can grow up to 3 feet in height and produces attractive flowers. The flowers are several bunches of flat-topped panicles consisting of numerous small, flower heads. Each tiny flower resembling a daisy. The whole plant is more or less hairy, with white, silky appressed hairs. The yarrow plant has a pale brown crawling rootstock (a swollen root together with the whole or a portion of a very short stem) that yields a circular, even, condensed stem which branches out at the top. It will spread in the root system, as well as reseeding itself.
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. Yarrow is also said to keep ants and harmful insects away. The entire plant has a strong, pungent odor and a bitter taste. If Yarrow is eaten by cows it gives a very unpleasant taste to milk products.
Yarrow is an underrated herb with many health benefits and uses. Containing anti-inflammatory and antiseptic oils as well as astringent tannins, yarrow is very useful as a medicinal herb. Resins present in yarrow possess astringent properties, while the silica helps in repairing damaged or worn out tissues in the body. These properties make it a versatile remedy which, when applied externally, is useful in curing cuts and wounds, burns and ulcers as well as swollen and irritating (inflammatory) skin. When taken internally, yarrow invigorates appetite, increases digestion as well as absorption of nutrients by the body, and acts as a natural antibiotic for various illnesses. The astringent feature of yarrow makes it a useful medication in stopping diarrhea and dysentery as well as impeding hemorrhage from the intestinal coatings. In addition, yarrow’s sterile and anti-inflammatory qualities help in healing infections and swollen organs like in the case of gastritis and enteritis. The bitter properties of yarrow is invigorating to the liver. On the other hand, the herb’s antispasmodics (an agent that relieves spasms or cramps) help in relieving cramps arising out of tensions, wind, colic or nervous dyspepsia (imperfect or painful digestion).
Yarrow was said to be "excellent to stop inward bleeding." Yarrow was dried, powdered, and mixed with Plantain or comfrey water (both wound herbs) or used by itself fresh, as a poultice for wounds that would not stop bleeding. These preparations were said to immediately stop the flow of blood. Dried and powdered Yarrow leaves, if dropped into the nostrils, stopped nosebleed. A decoction of Yarrow in white wine was drunk as a remedy for too copious menstruation. For the same purpose, large amounts of the fresh plants were boiled in water, and the patient sat over the beneficial steam to absorb it.
Oddly enough, this stauncher of blood could actually cause nosebleed if a fresh leaf was inserted in the nostril and twisted. This was sometimes purposely done, it being believed at one time that nosebleeds cured headaches.
Yarrow is a very valuable medicinal herb, with much scientific evidence of use in alternative medicine as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, stimulant, tonics, vasodilator and vulnerary. Yarrow is used against colds, cramps, fevers, kidney disorders, toothaches, skin irritations, and hemorrhages, and to regulate menses, stimulate the flow of bile, and purify the blood. Medicinal tea is a good remedy for severe colds and flu, for stomach ulcers, amenorrhea, abdominal cramps, abscesses, trauma and bleeding, and to reduce inflammation. The main constituents are volatile oils including linalool, camphor, sabinene, and chamazulene, sesquiterpene lctones, flavanoids, alkaloids including achilleine, polyacetylenes, triterpenes, salicylic acid, coumarins, and tannins which prove these uses in alternative medicine to be effective. Extracts of yarrow exhibit antibiotic activity and may also act as anti-neoplastic drugs. Externally for treating wounds and stopping the flow of blood. Yarrow oil has been traditionally used in hair shampoos.
In Homer's Iliad, legendary warrior Achilles uses yarrow to treat the wounds of his fallen comrades. Indeed, constituents in yarrow make it a fine herb for accelerating healing of cuts and bruises. The species name, millefolium, is Latin for "a thousand leaves," referring to the herb's fine feathery foliage. Some people call it knight's milfoil, a reference to yarrow's ability to stop bleeding and promote healing of wounds.
Yarrow was a favorite wound herb of the Anglo-Saxons. They also employed it to heal burns and the bites of poisonous snakes and insects. The fresh leaves were chewed to relieve toothache.
Yarrow was once known as "nosebleed", its feathery leaves making an ideal astringent swab to encourage clotting. It is a well known and versatile herb that is still effective for its historical use of stanching bleeding and disinfecting wounds, but it's uses extend far beyond that. Yarrow is one of the best-known herbal remedies for fevers, a hot cup of yarrow tea induces a therapeutic sweat which cools fevers and helps the body expels toxins. The chemical makeup of yarrow is complex, and it contains many active medicinal compounds in addition to the tannins and volatile oil azulene. In China, yarrow is used fresh as a poultice for healing wounds. A decoction of the whole plant is prescribed for stomach ulcers, amenorrhoea, and abscesses.
Yarrow has been credited by scientists with at least minor activity on nearly every organ in the body. Early Greeks used the herb to stop hemorrhages. Yarrow was commonly used by Native American tribes for bleeding, wounds, and infections. It is used in Ayurvedic traditions, and in traditional Chinese medicine. Animal studies have supported the long-standing use of yarrow to cleanse wounds and control bleeding of lacerations, puncture wounds, and abrasions.
Yarrow may also be used in tea or tincture form for bleeding ulcers, heavy menstrual periods, uterine hemorrhage, blood in the urine, or bleeding from the bowels, as well as for antibiotic properties for illnesses. Yarrow compresses are effective for treating bleeding hemorrhoids. In addition to its antispasmodic activity, the herb contains salicylic acid (a compound like the active ingredient in aspirin) and a volatile oil with anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful to relieve pain associated with gynecologic conditions, digestive disorders, and other conditions. Taken daily, yarrow preparations can relieve symptoms of menstrual cycle and uterine disorders, such as cramps and endometriosis.
Yarrow also has antiseptic action against bacteria. The bitter constituents and fatty acids in yarrow are credited with promoting bile flow from the gallbladder, an action known as a cholagogue effect. Free-flowing bile enhances digestion and elimination and helps prevent gallstone formation. Because of these anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and cholagogue actions, yarrow is useful for gallbladder complaints and is considered a digestive tonic.
When consumed hot, yarrow is a superb medication that helps in getting relief from fevers and contagions like colds, flu, coughs as well as sore throats. Yarrow is also beneficial in removing heat and toxins from the system through increased perspiration. Yarrow can also be used as a stimulant for the circulatory system and helps in healing varicose veins, hemorrhoids, phlebitis (inflammation of superficial veins that results in pain) and thrombosis. The herb is also useful in lowering blood pressure. The herb is also an efficient diuretic (an agent that promotes urine production and flow) and helps in letting out excessive fluids and toxins through enhanced urination. Yarrow also helps to get relief from cystitis (a bladder infection marked by pain as well as frequent, painful urination), irritable bladder, stones and irritation. In addition, the herb is useful in soothing painful joints and also clears the skin. The herb contains sterols, which have actions similar to hormones and aids in controlling the menstrual cycle. That yarrow is an extremely beneficial remedy for womenfolk; it is established from the fact that the herb moderates serious bleeding during menstruation as well as heals uterus blockages. It also helps in providing relief during heavy periods. Yarrow’s versatility as a herbal medication is again proved when it is said to be useful as a stimulant or tonic for the nervous system.
Yarrow has a drying effect and can be used as a decongestant. Sinus infections and coughs with sputum production may be improved by yarrow, especially when mixed with equal parts goldenseal. Note that a cough with ample sputum production may be a sign of bronchitis or pneumonia and requires the attention of a physician.
Yarrow's astringent action is helpful in some cases of allergy, in which watery eyes and nasal secretions are triggered by pollen, dust, molds, and animal dander. Yarrow also has long been used to promote sweating in cases of colds, flu, and fevers, thus helping you get over simple infections.
Flowers bloom from May to August. Gather stem, leaves and flower heads in bloom, dry for later herb use. Dry herb edible as a spice or flavoring, strong sage flavor. One thing I’ve noticed - if using yarrow in teas, best to use flower tops, as when tea is made steeping the leaves there is often a ‘bite’ to the flavor. The flowers impart a much gentler tea.
The most common use (for me anyway) is to stop bleeding and assist in wound healing. You can put dry or fresh plant part (flower or leaf) on any bleeding wound, and hold pressure. Usually within 10-30 seconds it will stop bleeding. I used it once on a serious head wound for my 2 yr old niece - severe bleeding - held dried flowers compressed to the screaming child’s head (with assist from my sister), and within 30 seconds the bleeding stopped, and so did the screaming! - besides stopping the bleeding, it also has properties which help with pain and prevent infection. A simple cross bandage to hold the wound shut, and she was nearly good as new! My sister immediately asked if she could have some of the plant to take back home to Georgia? Without Yarrow, she would have rushed the child to the ER, and spent so much time and money while the child was in such agony, but instead, the simple application of a plant for 30 seconds - then wash off the blood and the child was back on the floor playing with her cousins a few moments later - I keep jars of dried yarrow all over for quick use in case of any emergency.
It's also been used it to soak a seriously infected wound. A friend came to me with a horribly infected hand injury. I insisted he go to the ER as it was swollen, angry red, and oozing infection from the stitches. His girlfriend (an actual Doctor) had given him the same advice. He refused and insisted on guidance to help himself. After telling him what an idiot he was, I suggested boiling yarrow for at least half hour to draw out as much healing property as was possible, then as soon as it cooled enough, to put the hand in the pot and soak it. Only took one soaking - the next morning it looked fine! His girlfriend couldn’t believe the improvement! His stitches were removed a week later without incident.
Yarrow makes an excellent skin wash, its astringency making it particularly beneficial to oily complexions. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over about 1 cup of crumbled dried flowering Yarrow tops, cool, and strain. Pat on the skin. This wash soothes chapping and minor irritations as well.
Infusion / tea
An infusion of yarrow flowers can be prepared by steeping the flowers/leaves into boiling water for some time. If taken internally, the infusion is useful for upper respiratory phlegm. It may also be useful to heal eczema when applied externally as a wash. - Should note that flavor will be more gentle using flowers instead of leaves. Useful for reducing fevers, stimulating digestive system, fighting common colds and infections.
Take 1/4 to ½ teaspoon, two to five times a day, for treatment of upper respiratory infection, heavy menstrual bleeding, cramps, or inflammation. Start by taking it three times per day and increase or decrease as needed.
Fresh yarrow flowers may be added to boiling water and the aroma inhaled to cure hay fever and mild asthma. - Do NOT boil for internal use.
Cuts and scratches on the body can be healed by wrapping cleansed fresh yarrow leaves on the affected regions.
One may soak a pad in the yarrow infusion or dilute the yarrow tincture to get relief from varicose veins.
With a view to get relief from swollen joints, dilute 5 to 10 drops of yarrow oil in 25 ml of permeated St. John’s wort oil and massage the amalgamation on the affected areas.
To alleviate chesty colds and drive out influenza, dilute 20 drops of essential yarrow oil in 25 ml of almond or sunflower oil and blend it with eucalyptus, peppermint, hyssop or thyme oil and rub the mixture on the chest.
Yarrow isn't one of the first herbs that spring to mind for use in the kitchen as it has such a bitter taste. You can add the leaves to salads and omelettes; sparingly so as not to over power the dish. Yarrow also makes an interesting addition to chicken soups and stews. Yarrow flowers make a wonderful aromatic wine which also has the benefit of being a digestive and thus an ideal aperitif. The leaves of yarrow have been described by some as smelling like spring cabbage whereas others think it smells like sage. Still others describe it as a fruity, grassy scent.
Dried yarrow flowers can be used for decoration and in pot-pourri mixes. You can add leaves to your compost bin to help speed up the process. An infusion of yarrow can also be made and added to the garden to boost copper levels. Yarrow leaves have been used in snuff mixtures and a weak infusion of the flowers makes a good toner for greasy skin.
- It is also used for wounds, nosebleeds, ulcers, inflamed eyes and hemorrhoids.
- In folklore it is held as a superior remedy for wounds and cuts.
- Can be used as a sitz bath for painful, cramp-like conditions in the lower female pelvis.
Aromatherapy and essential oil use
- Yarrow essential oil is particularly beneficial for gynecological problems, including irregular menstruation, painful periods, as well as menopausal problems.
- The digestive system is stimulated, urine production regulated and fever as well as congestion is eased.
- On the skin, it is useful for slow healing wounds, as well as open sores and it has an astringent action on the skin.
- It furthermore is used to simulate hair growth and is also indicated to treat premature baldness.
Abrasions/Cuts * Colds * Dysmenorrhea * Hypertension HBP * Menorrhagia * Rheumatoid Arthritis
* Properties: Anti-inflammatory * Astringent * Hypotensive * Vulnerary * Digestive * Febrifuge * Styptic * Insect repellents * Expectorant * Antibacterial * Nervine * Antispasmodic * Antiperspirant /Deodorants * Parts Used: aerial parts, essential oil
Easily cultivated. Will survive in poor soil. Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position. A very good companion plant, it improves the health of plants growing nearby and enhances their essential oil content thus making them more resistant to insect predations. Also improves soil fertility.
Yarrow grows well in most conditions. It is a prolific self seeder, so you'll need to keep a close eye on it if you don't want it to take over your garden. It also has a creeping rootstock which helps it to spread. It is a drought-loving plant making it ideal for seaside gardens or if you have very dry soil.
To keep it happy and healthy follow these year round guidelines: in spring, divide and replant established clumps to keep the plants fresh; in summer cut back to prevent self seeding (unless you want it to self seed); in autumn raise new plants from seeds or cuttings as well as divide and replant clumps.
In the garden, yarrow is a useful plant to grow because it will help improve the health of surrounding plants due to the phosphorus, calcium and silica the plant contains. It attracts hoverflies, ladybirds and predatory wasps to help with aphid control. It can help to concentrate the scent and flavor of other herbs growing close by.
Yarrow isn't troubled by many pests or disease. The only problem I've had with it occasionally is that it can suffer from mildew.
To dry Yarrow flowers: Gather freshly opened flowering stalks, breaking them off at the base. Tie in bunches of three or four and hang upside down to dry, in an airy place, away from direct sunlight. When they are thoroughly dry, remove the flower clusters carefully and discard the rest of the plant. Store the flower clusters in jars with tight-fitting tops, away from the sun.
Perhaps because of its pungent (and to many unpleasant) odor, Yarrow was said to be one of the devil's herbs and was probably called Devil's Plaything and Devil's Nettle for this reason. In any event, it has been long associated with magic and witchcraft. As is so often the case, however, the plant could actually be employed to give protection against the very same spells that it was an ingredient of.
Yarrow was strewn across the threshold of a house to keep out evil influences and was worn to guard against evil spells. Country people tied sprigs of it to a baby's cradle to protect the infant from witches who might try to steal away its soul, which they believed to be a real possibility in cases where there had been a delay in baptizing the infant.
To ease childbirth, Yarrow that had been gathered on St. John's or Midsummer Eve (June 21, the summer solstice, a day of great and powerful magical significance since very ancient antiquity) was given to a woman in labor. She held it pressed to her right side, but it had to be taken away as soon as the child was born.
Yarrow was frequently included in wedding bouquets and garlands, where its presence was said to guarantee true love between the married pair for seven years!
There were other beliefs associated with Yarrow. The juice, if rubbed into the hair, made it curly. To dream of it after gathering the plant for medicine meant the dreamer would hear good news. In the Orkney Islands of Scotland, Yarrow tea was a cure for melancholy, while in the Hebrides, a leaf of Yarrow held against the eyes gave "second sight."
- Avoid in pregnancy, can cause allergic skin reactions in sensitive people who suffer from allergies related to the Asteraceae family. Moderation is the key to safe use, the thujone content can be toxic over an extended period of time. Should not be boiled for internal use, only steeped, as it can cause dangerous hallucinations when boiled. Some caution is advised for use in shampoos or regular skin application, large or frequent doses taken over a long period may cause the skin to be more sensitive to sunlight. . If you are allergic to aspirin, you may also be allergic to yarrow - the most common indicators of sensitivity are headache and nausea.
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Ah yes... and the legal disclaimer - don’t you hate these things? —> The information contained in this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. <– ok, that’s done, hope you find this article useful!!
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