Yarrow, the Panacea — 12+ Ways to Use It
Last week, I was wrestling with my 45-pound dog when he jumped on me and accidentally scratched my face in three places. It was date night. There was no way I was postponing dinner and a movie for a dog scratch, but I was bleeding a lot. So I ran outside, grabbed two yarrow leaves, chewed them up and put them on the wound.
I looked a little funny going around with yarrow-leaf mush on my face, but the bleeding stopped immediately and the pain stopped shortly after that. I left it on for about 20 minutes and when I rinsed it off I was good to go! I put on some aloe from my mama plant and some honey to keep the microbes out while I was going around town, but the yarrow gave my wound a head start to a quick heal.
About Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow is named after the Greek hero Achilles. It is said that the herb was floating in the River Styx when his mother bathed him and that is where his invulnerability came from. To this day, yarrow is known as the flower of invulnerability. It is used for setting healthy boundaries and protecting from outer negativity.
Yarrow grows everywhere. It’s a native to the entire northern hemisphere and is naturalized throughout the world. It’s worth growing because of the health benefits to you and your family, and guess what? It’s pretty, smells great, and loves to grow (totally boyfriend material).
Yarrow likes lots of sunshine and it isn’t picky about anything after that. It likes a lot of water or almost no water and it doesn’t have any particular preference to soil type. It’s a nitrogen fixer, so it will help fertilize your soil and is a fabulous ally to other growing plants. A perennial that self sows and spreads by runners, it will be prolific in your garden.
If you ask any herbalist, she will tell you a great many stories about the healing powers of yarrow. I’ve even heard some say that if they had to choose one herb, this would be it!
Why Do Herbalists Love Yarrow?
- It is antimicrobial.
- It’s a liver, heart, and kidney protector.
- It stimulates digestion.
- It helps pain.
Yarrow the Panacea!
Yarrow for First Aid
Yarrow is an amphoteric blood mover, which means it can start or stop bleeding, depending on what is needed in the body. It can help stop bleeding like it did with my cut, but its rubefacient action can also cause bleeding! It was said that if you tickle the inside of your lover’s nose with a yarrow leaf and it bleeds, he has been faithful. (It’s cute, but any man that would let his woman stick something up his nose is probably faithful to her and loves her little quirks).
Yarrow is a great first defense herb for pain, blood, scratches, infections, blemishes, or itchiness. It can be used safely on kids, pets, and with the elderly, and is perfect on all types of external and internal wounds.
How to Use Yarrow
As a Poultice:
Yarrow works wonderfully as a poultice to stop bleeding and clean the wound (remember that it’s antimicrobial)! Chew it up and stick it on for small cuts and scrapes. I also use it on slivers (which I seem to be a magnet for) and canker sores.
For deeper wounds, you can just pack the leaves right into the cut. It will keep it clean and help start the healing process until you can get somewhere safe for any necessary medical attention.
In a Steam Bath:
For acne blemishes, viral infections, or allergies, a steam bath is where it’s at. Just put a few leaves into a pan of simmering water and let the steam wash over your face while you breathe deeply.
As a Tea:
For a fever, cold, delayed moon cycle, allergies, ulcers, or any type of bleeding/pain in the digestive tract, a couple cups of tea daily can change your life.
Use the same tea as a hair rinse to combat dandruff or itchy scalp.
If you get migraines, soak a towel in the tea, lie down, and place the towel over your head as a compress.
For my fuzzy friends, I keep dried yarrow powder around in case they hurt their little padded feet or rub against the rose bush. (I don’t know why they keep doing that.) Sometimes I put a leaf right into their water dish, just to keep it clean and give them a few more nutrients. For itchy spots, I give them 1-3 drops of tincture on their food daily along with a cool tea rinse—they don’t love the rinse, but it helps.
One of the most precious things to me about yarrow is how helpful she is to other plants. For houseplants that aren’t very happy, use cool yarrow tea to water them. The yarrow will help to nurture your plants back to health!
Yarrow is also one of the best compost plants out there. In a prolific year with lots of water, the leaves make a perfect natural mulch for the garden!
by Aubrey Wallace, Resident Herbal Scholar
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