Yarrow – Nature’s “Cure all”
Yarrow – Achillea millefolium – is my go-to herbal healer supreme! Also known as Wound Wort, Staunchweed, Herbe Militaris and Soldiers Woundwort. It is a very common native plant that grows all over the hedgerows, waysides, meadows and pasture, and is of the family Asteraceae, the Daisy family. Yarrow has a long growing season, starting in March and going right through until November – which means a really long harvesting season, plenty of time to use it fresh, and to dry it out to last through the Winter months.
What Can Yarrow Be Used To Treat?
This amazing plant has been an allay to man for thousands of years, as it has been found to be present in Neanderthal graves in the Mediterranean basin, dating back around 60,000 years! And is still highly regarded by herbalists of all lineages today as one of the top herbal first aid plants, alongside nettle, dandelion and plantain.
Yarrows effectiveness lies in 3 primary areas; colds and flus, with associated fevers – bleeding – and digestive problems, but is also known as a “woman’s healer”.
For Colds & Flu:
Yarrow is highly aromatic, and in addition, contains substances that are antiseptic, anti-microbial, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and spasmolytic (relieves the spasm of smooth muscle). Taken as a tincture, it can stop a cold or flu in its tracks. When used in a steam inhaler, yarrow will alleviate coughing, soothe inflamed bronchial passages, and gives antibacterial, antiseptic and antimicrobial protection, particularly against strep and staph! Made into a tea it will lower a fever naturally and gently, by inducing sweating. It is analgesic, and offers relief from the aches and pains associated with cold and flu.
Yarrows use of staunching bleeding is ancient, it’s Latin name Achillea millefolium, means the thousand leaved plant of Achilles, who was a great warrior of ancient Greece. He used the plant for the wounds of himself and his warriors on the battlefield. Cultures from all over the world and all history have recognised the plant for this, the ancient Romans called it Herbe Militaris (soldiers grass) and the Teton Dakota people called it tao-pi pezu’ta (medicine for the wounded), known for its ability to heal traumatic wounds.
The herb, dry powdered root or the crushed fresh plant, when placed in large deep wounds, immediately stops bleeding and the wound walls begin to knit together – the analgesic, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiseptic action helping to reduce pain and prevent infection!
Yarrow will also have a tonifying and astringent action on the veins, and so is good for easing the pain and swelling associated with varicose veins and piles!
As a woman’s herb, it will help normalise periods. Yarrow will also reduce excessive menstrual flow with its haemostatic activity, helping to regulate chronic painful and congested menses, promoting blood flow and improving circulation to the whole pelvic area.
Again, a tea and tincture are the best way to take it here. A lesser known use for yarrow tincture relating to the blood is as an insect repellent!
The Digestive System:
Yarrow is a reliable digestive bitter and tonic, effectively aiding upset stomach or indigestion, (in this instance, it is better combined with peppermint than either used alone), helping with gas and flatulence.
Yarrow tea and tincture is really effective in treating UTI’s, such as cystitis, and also taken internally as a tincture or as a mouthwash, which is useful for tooth infections.
It can be used as a hand and surface disinfectant.
As with many of mother natures healers, Yarrow grows prolifically through the hedgerows field edges, verges, roadsides, meadows and gardens. However, due to pollution, never harvest from or forage from near the roads, and also be aware that if near fields plants will have been subjected to crop spraying. Always forage responsibly, never take too much from one plant, or area, tread lightly and only take what you need. Ideally, grow it in your own garden! Yarrow is super easy to grow and is loved by and beneficial to all insects!
For instructions on how to make yarrow tincture, as well as so much more information check out my herbalist mentor Susun Weed’s article here.
The Magical Associations with Yarrow
Because of its amazing healing properties, Yarrow has long been recognized as a protective plant. With its well known ability to slow and stop the flow of blood part of it’s magic is also to stop the flow of energy going to a wound, which again, helps with healing. Yarrow magic is one of “intentional restraint”. One of Yarrows teachings is to know and understand that all wounds, especially deep ones, whether physical or emotional, benefit from slow and carefully protected healing. Yarrow reminds us to protect ourselves and our vunerable places so that they can heal, to give our energy to the healing process, but not to allow it to overwhelm us.
Yarrow reminds us to take things slowly, but is also powerful and gives us deep inner strength. Yarrow is associated with the deities Aphrodite, Hermes, and Achilles. It is associated with the Sun, and the element of Water. Not only is is cleansing on a physical level, it is a powerful aura cleanser and strengthener, providing strong protection for your energy field, not just when doing magical or energy work, but in everyday life too!
For up and coming workshops on how to make herbal remedies, as well as lots of other exciting courses, and interesting articles, check out my 2020 workshops blog.
Disclaimer: As with all herbal remedies, please consult your medical provider before embarking on taking any herbal remedy, homemade or otherwise. Take responsibility for your own health, do your own research on things, use your inner guidance system and intuition regarding all things. Never take any herbal remedy for more than 6 weeks without a break. Prolonged use of Yarrow can cause photo-sensitivity. Pregnant women should not use Yarrow internally.
If you are allergic to any of the Asteraceae Family, ragweed, daisies, sunflowers, chamomile etc, you may be allergic to yarrow.
Happy foraging and healing. Keep well. Green blessings!