The Native Americans rate Yarrow as one of their most important herbs and with good reason, Yarrow has many uses, as you’ll soon discover!
Yarrow is related to Asters such as Echinacea, Dandelion, and Chicory, to name a few. Yarrow’s botanical name is Achillea millefolium.
All About Yarrow
The flowers are pinkish-white though there are common cultivars that are grown for their “hot” colors such as red, pink, orange, and yellow. for medicinal purposes, it’s best to stick with the white flowered plants. If you look closely at them, you’ll notice that what you thought were individual flowers are actually ray and disk flowers held together by bracts. The inflorescences have 4-9 bracts with clusters of 15-40 disk flowers and 3-u ray flowers.
Yarrow isn’t generally considered a plant you would eat so it might surprise you that this plant has vitamins A, C, E, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), inositol (B8), calcium, choline. chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, tin, and zinc.
It’s good to know that drinking the tea can provide you with a bit of nutrition though you’ll want to add more flavorful herbs to the mix since Yarrow is bitter.
Medicinally we generally use the flowers, stems, and leaves.
Yarrow is a diaphoretic, so if you drink a hot tea made with Yarrow, it will make you sweat. This can be helpful if you are running a fever and want to help lower it, as this action can help the fever to ‘break.’ It’s often combined with Elderflowers and Peppermint for a antiviral tea that helps with all things cold and flu. This is an old recipe I learned from herbalist Rosemary Gladstar.
Yarrow is great for circulatory system. He can help to lower high blood pressure by opening up the blood vessels, which also helps to increase circulation in the body. Hawthorn and Linden flowers combine well with Yarrow for this.
Yarrow is also astringent and is great for helping to contract the blood vessels and tissues, making this plant great for toning the blood vessels, to help reduce varicose veins.
As a styptic and vulnerary, Yarrow can also help to stop bleeding. I’ve often used dried and powdered Yarrow leaves as a snuff to help my son when he was younger and had a lot of bloody noses. yarrow is so effective at stopping bleeding that this plant was used during the Civil War in the United States as a wound stauncher. Because this plant is also vulnerary, Yarrow helps to heal the wounds as well. In addition, yarrow is antimicrobial, which means he kills germs, keeping wounds germ free as they heal.
Another aspect of Yarrow’s wound healing capabilities is his anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to killing germs, stopping bleeding, and healing the wound, Yarrow helps to keep inflammation at bay. While some inflammation is necessary for the healing process, too much can make the area really sore and puffy. Yarrow can help reduce that.
If yarrow tea is drank cool, it becomes a diuretic, which will increase the flow of urine, and help the body to eliminate excessive fluids. This action also helps to flush out the urinary system which can help to heal cystitis and other urinary issues.
Remember how I said Yarrow is nutritious but we don’t really eat it? That is because Yarrow is bitter tasting so most people don’t enjoy his flavor! But that bitter is an indication of another of Yarrow’s uses, to help with digestion. Bitters get our stomach juices flowing which in turn helps our digestive system to do its job when we eat.
Our liver can also benefit from Yarrow as Yarrow cleanses and tones the liver, making this herb a great liver support!
Decorative Yarrow Bouquet
This is a great way to prepare flowers for a wintertime arrangement. They will keep a very long time and bring a bit of sunshine to a wintertime landscape. It is especially nice if you can use the colored varieties of yarrow.
Fresh Yarrow flower stalks
Optional: Other flowers for drying such as strawflowers, lavender, poppy seed heads, roses, and cornflowers
Cut a bunch of yarrow stalks and flowers as close to the ground as possible.
Use a rubber band to tie the stems together.
Hang them upside down to dry. This will generally take 2-3 weeks.
Arrange them in a vase without water. You can dry and add other flowers as well such as strawflowers, lavender, poppy seed heads, roses and cornflowers.
Fun Related Yarrow Videos and Resources
Want to learn to make Yarrow Wound Powder with your kids? Check out my new Monday Making series. This week’s episode is on making Yarrow Wound Powder!https://youtu.be/rVIC3NyBB1U
Want to listen to “How Yarrow Got Her Tattered Leaves”? This story is from the Yarrow issue of Herbal Roots zine and it can be found on YouTube here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWRkMuk6oFQ
Want to learn MORE about Yarrow? Check out my eBook on this vivacious plant!