Yarrow for Healing
Yarrow is an all-purpose herb that is most effective in fighting colds, flu, fever, and hemorrhaging. It is a versatile herb that I deem most important in an herbalists arsenal. It can be prepared in a variety of ways including as an ointment, an infusion, a tincture or even used raw. A member of the sunflower family, this plant is most commonly used as a vulnerary. Because of its history as a plant used for healing wounds, yarrow is sometimes called nosebleed, woundwort, or even Soldiers Milfoil. Yarrow can be found all across the United States and is often found on hills and mountains. It can also be easily cultivated in nearly any climate. Interestingly enough, the generic name of this plant is Achillea–which probably stems from the ancient story of Achilles. It has been said that he used this plant to stop up the wounds of his soldiers.
“These plants contain alkaloids that have been shown to reduce clotting time. . . . They also have sedative, pain-killing, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic constituents. . . . Yarrow leaves have been used in washes, salves and poultices for treating burns, boils, open sore and aching backs and legs. The tea has been taken as a tonic and as a treatment for colds and fevers, because it stimulates sweating and lowers blood pressure.
–From Linda Kershaw’s book, Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Rockies
Yarrow plant can easily be identified by its fine, fernlike leaves. The flowers are snow-white and flat-topped, although pink and yellow varieties can be found in many nurseries. Yarrow typically begins to flower in late May and will continue through September. Yarrow can easily be distinguished from carrot and hemlock by the fact that Yarrow flowers start from different places on the stem. Many times there are separate flower clusters that are found at a lower level than the main flower cluster that springs from the central stock.
The flower clusters can be used fresh or dried to effectively stop bleeding from cuts and scrapes. What I do is take a small bunch of the fresh flowers and lightly rinse them in cool running water to remove any dirt or debris as well as any loose flowers. Then I place the flowers firmly on the cut or scrape. They should not be used to stop bleeding in deep cuts. Even in shallow cuts, care must be taken to clean the cut completely because the cut will clot up so effectively that any debris left can become trapped in the cut. It is sometimes helpful on cuts to wrap the freshly washed leaves in cheesecloth to prevent any bits of the flower from sticking in the cut as it clots. I have used it most effectively to stop razor cuts from careless shaving and once even used it to help stop a nosebleed one of my daughters had.
The Yarrow root is amazing at treating sore teeth and gums. Dig up the fresh root, rinse it off and then chew it. You will be delighted at how much it reduces the pain. You can also make a fresh yarrow root tincture for later use or for use where the plant isn’t readily available.
To make an effective tea for the treatment of cold, flu, or fevers you simply take 2.5 ounces by weight of the fresh yarrow leaves and flowers ( or 1 ounce of dried yarrow) and bring to a near boil in 2 cups of water. When the yarrow has been at a near boil for 10 minutes, you can strain the plant material out and drink the tea. You can drink it hot or cold. It is most effective in treating colds and fevers. The tea can also be used as a wash for the external treatment of eczema.
Yarrow should not be used by women who are pregnant, by anyone who exhibits allergies to it, or by men who are worried about sperm count.
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