Yarrow is one of my favorite herbs! Today I’d like to show you a quick video so you can see it actually growing in the wild. Hopefully, this will help you learn to identify it a bit better. Maybe you’ll recognize it on your next walk! I’m also going to give you some great information on the herb yarrow, its history, what it can be used for, and how to actually use it!
Wild vs. Hybrid Yarrow
Yarrow is officially known as Achillea millefolium, and it’s a plant that’s part of the daisy family. In the wild, you’ll find the majority of yarrow flowers to be white or pale yellow, and wild yarrow is most commonly used for its medicinal properties. You can find brighter colored yarrow flowers growing in gardens, but these are hybrid varieties of yarrow and aren’t as commonly used for their therapeutic properties.
It grows anywhere from 1-3 feet tall, usually in dry ground, and blooms late spring through fall.
Check out this video of the boys and I locating a large patch of yarrow growing on the side of our little road!
Legend of Yarrow
There’s a legend that goes along with yarrow that has to do with how it got its genus name – Achillea millefolium.
Legend says that Achilles used yarrow in the battle of Troy to stop the bleeding of his soldier’s wounds by applying poultices of yarrow.
The Energetics of Yarrow
When it comes to using yarrow, you can use the whole plant. Flowers, leaves, roots, all of it!
One of the first things we have to look at is the energetics of the plant. The energetics are the actions that the plant has on the body. The energetics of yarrow are aromatic and bitter as well as cooling and drying.
When using yarrow for its bitter energetic it can be used as a digestive aid. Bitters cause the release of saliva, enzymes, and gastric juices to help you properly break down your food.
If you’re using yarrow for its drying properties, you’ll most likely use the crushed leaves as a poultice on a bleeding wound as yarrow has been used for ages to stop bleeding. You can also use yarrow root to help with toothaches as it acts to draw out the infection and toxins that may be causing the toothache. These drying properties are related to yarrow’s astringent-like action which causes the tissues to tighten up, thus, helping stop bleeding and toothaches! Pretty neat huh?
Yarrow is also used at the first signs of colds, flu, and fevers due to its warming energetics. The warming that results from yarrow helps to stimulate the immune system to fight whatever the body is facing as well as allowing the body to gently heat up to the point that it starts to sweat. In this way, yarrow acts as a diaphoretic as it helps to open the skin’s pores in order to help cool the body.
How To Use Yarrow
Before I go into specific ways to use yarrow for some of the things I mentioned above, first let me talk about the forms of yarrow you may need. Most times, when you order yarrow online, you’ll get dried yarrow tops. That mean’s flowers, stems, and leaves. From here, you can place these dried tops into a coffee grinder and powder them if you need a bit of powdered yarrow one day. You don’t have to buy dried yarrow AND powdered yarrow. You may also want to order a small amount of yarrow root, just to have it on hand in case you need it.
Now if you feel up to it and you can recognize yarrow in the wild, you can always harvest your own yarrow to dry and store!
When it comes to actually putting your yarrow to use, here’s how to do it.
For colds, flu, and fevers, you can use fresh or dried yarrow as a tea to drink frequently throughout the day. Remember, yarrow is bitter, so unless you’re using it as an herbal bitter, you’ll need to add in some other good-tasting herb to mask that flavor. Peppermint is a great option!
If you want to use yarrow as a nice immune booster, mild liver cleanser, or digestive aid, you can take your fresh or dried yarrow and make a tincture with it to take daily.
If your little one gets a cut of some sort that’s bleeding quite a bit you can use yarrow to slow the bleeding. Simply take some of your dried yarrow, put it in your coffee grinder, quickly grind it into powder, and put the powder down into the cut. This helps to tighten the tissues (remember that astringent effect) and stop the bleeding. When the bleeding has stopped you can always rinse the wound out to try to get a closer look at it.
Need yarrow for a toothache? Take a piece of yarrow root and soak it in a few drops of water to re-hydrate it. Place the root next to the tooth that is hurting along the gum line and replace it every hour or so to see if this helps.
Like I said before, yarrow is one of my favorite herbs. I wouldn’t want to be caught without it!
On a side note, if you’re into beautiful, old-time music, check out this song Dowie Dens of Yarrow by Karine Polwart on YouTube. It’s a Scottish ballad, it’s about yarrow, and it’s tragically romantic!