As many of you may know... I have a love for Herbs, especially those that have amazing health benefits and that grow wild around me. It has been entirely too long since I have written an Herbal Profile Post and felt it was time to get back at it!
Yarrow is one of my favorite herbs because it has such a long list of benefits, is safe to use, easy to identify while foraging, while also being a very low maintenance plant to grow yourself.
So, let me introduce you to...
Yarrow (or Milfoil) is an herb from the Compositae family that has such amazing multi use purposes. Because of this, it will always have a place in my Medicinal Herb Pantry as well as my garden. Before we get into those benefits though, let’s take a look at some of the history behind the plant.
As with many Healing Herbs, Yarrow has a history as legendary as it’s benefits;
Yarrow has been used for centuries in Chinese Medicine as well as by Native Americans for its healing properties, but the one legend that it’s most know for is its apparent role in The Battle Of Troy. The story goes that the great Greek warrior Achilles, used the plant to aid in healing wounds that he and his soldiers suffered while in the field. The Latin name for the plant, Achillea most likely stems from this story and literally translates to of Achilles.
Achilles’ choice of Yarrow is not surprising considering its ability to staunch blood flow, while also helping to ease pain and actually speed up the healing process itself. This is due to its high level of active constituents- including azulene, eugenol, camphor, rutin, salicylic acid and tannins.
While Yarrow’s ability to stop bleeding and heal wounds is extremely impressive, it’s benefits don’t stop there;
It is an antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, anti inflammatory, an excellent diaphoretic, vasodilator, febrifuge, haemostatic, diuretic, alterative, digestive, tonic, bitter tonic, hepatic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antihistamine, analgesic, expectorant, an emmenagogue, antiviral, stimulant, tonic, a vasodilator, and vulnerary wound healer.
Whew! That’s a lot right?
So what does that all mean? Well, it means that Yarrow can be used to help aid in a long list of ailments including but not limited to the following;
- Mild digestive aid
- Helps to heal eczema and other skin ailments
- Stops bleeding (used externally)
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces fevers
- Helps the body naturally expel toxins
- May aid in the treatment of hypertension
- Improves sleep due to its mild sedative properties
- Helps to regulate menstrual flow and alleviate cramps
- Prevent and treat frequent bruising
- Heals dry skin
- Speeds up the healing time of external injuries
Taking advantage of these amazing healing properties is relatively easy to do; You can simply use the fresh herb directly on ailments or you can make an ointment/salve, tea, or tincture.
This is how I personally utilize Yarrow most often and it can be used topically to help with;
- Minor cuts, scrapes and bruises
- Rashes (eczema, psoriasis, diaper rash, etc)
- Bug bites
- Dry skin
- Acne breakouts and scars
Yarrow is one of the Healing Herbs I use in my Herbal Healing Ointment, which has replaced store bought antibiotic ointment (like Neosporin) in our home.
Stay tuned for a video tutorial coming this week!
Teas and Tinctures
A tea (or infusion) can be made with the fresh or dry herb and enjoyed up to three times a day. A tincture is the process of using alcohol to extract the benefits of the herb and you are left with a much more potent substance. Tinctures can be used for the same ailments as tea but have a longer shelf life and because of its potency, only about 1 tsp (up to 3x day) is needed. Either can be taken internally for the following;
- Digestive aid
- Relieve cramps and regulate menstrual flow
- Prevent bruising
- Promote good sleep
- Reduce fever
- Internal cleansing (Helps to induce persperation that helps the body naturally expel harmful toxins)
- Reduce inflammation
Every part of the Yarrow plant can be used and many times the easiest way to use it is in its natural state. This is extremely useful when out and about on hikes, camping trips, or in survival situations when you don’t have access to ointments/tinctures etc. The leaves/flowers can be crushed and applied topically to alleviate the following;
- External injuries (crushed and applied directly will stop bleeding)
- Minimize itching of bug bites
- Rashes (nettle, poison oak, etc.)
Being able to identify the herb while in nature is therefore important, luckily Yarrow is a relatively easy plant to identify once you know what you are looking for.
Yarrow can be found growing wild in most areas in the US, as well as worldwide. It prefers sunny to lightly shaded areas with moist, rich soil. It is a hardy perennial that usually will come back to the same location year after year. So, once you’ve found an area where it thrives you can essentially have a never ending supply as long as you practice responsible harvesting/propagating.
Are narrow, aromatic and have a beautiful feathery or fern like texture. They are deeply cut and dark grayish-green in color. In early spring you can find little patches as shown here;
Is hollow, ridged and starts to branch out towards the top of the plant, while also being green in color. The plant itself normally reaches anywhere from 1-3 feet in height depending on its growing conditions. The buds start to develop at the top of the plants in clusters like so;
Are small, dull white, sometimes pink (it’s true I’ve seen it!), flattish clusters with a yellow center, with a light scent and bloom from summer to autumn.
Proof of the elusive pink Yarrow
The Yarrow plant can be found growing along roadsides, fields, forests and everywhere in between. It’s also easy to grow and makes a great addition to any garden because of its ability to help nearby plants fight off disease while deepening their fragrance and flavor.
As you can see, Yarrow is an extremely beneficial herb and I hope that this has convinced you that it should be one of your favorites as well. So, get out there and see if this amazing herb is growing in your backyard!
Thanks so much for reading,
All photos are my own and taken by yours truly. All information found in this post has been gathered over the last few years while teaching myself about the healing benefits of herbs.
The Complete Book Of Herbs By Lesley Bremness
The Herb Book By John Lust