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Yarrow| Achillea millefolium

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include Yarrow, common yarrow, Milfoil, Thousand-leaf, bellyache herb (Austria), soldiers woundwort, devils nettle

The name 'Achillea' comes from the belief that Achilles soldiers used the plant to treat their wounds. The second part of its Latin name, millefolium, derives from the finely cut leaf edges which gives the foliage its distinct feathery appearance.

Yarrow is a widespread and commonly seen perennial plant belonging to the Asteraceae or daisy family. It is a natural native of Northern Temperate areas such as Northern Europe, North America and parts of Northern Asia. It can be found in abundance in sunny hedgerows, meadows and grassland, hills and mountainsides. It thrives in poorer soils and if given too much fertility it will grow much taller but not be as potent medicinally.
 
At the beginning of its growing season, a mass of low lying feathery leaves will be seen. In my garden and its surrounding areas, the Yarrow leaves are present all through the wonter too. Coming in to summertime, it can grow up to 40cms tall on a single stem with fine feathery cut leaves in asymmetric pairs growing smaller towards the flower cluster at the top. The flowers are usually white or cream coloured but often have a rosy pink hue to them too.
 

 


Organic dried Yarrow and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The whole aerial part (everything growing above ground) can be harvested when the plant is flowering, just after the flowers open but before they begin to brown. This will vary depending on location and microclimates but will generally be from mid Summer onwards right through into early Autumn here in the UK. The fresh young Spring leaves, before the plant is near flowering can also be harvested for use in medicine.
Lay out the flowering stalks on a tray or hang in loosely packed bunches to dry thoroughly before storing in an airtight container away from heat and light.
The fresh leaves are often used in wound healing etc. but the dried whole above ground plant is just as good for internal medicine.

 Fresh Spring leaves can also be added to salads and other meals in small garnish like amounts, they have a pleasant flavour.

Poultices can be made from the dried or fresh herb - either crush the fresh leaves and apply direct to body part or brew a strong tea and wash the area with it. For the full effects on internal organs such as the uterus, have a sitz bath using strong yarrow tea (a good handful in a muslin bag for example) every day.

Organic dried Yarrow and tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.


therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

First things first, Yarrow is a strong styptic, that is it slows the flow of blood from wounds both external and internal. This makes it a great 'first aid' herb, especially for deep wounds, to help staunch bleeding from wounds, disinfect and speed up the skin healing process. Yarrow is particularly good on deep cuts described as 'down to the bone'. Its useful for any kind of haemorrhage especially when there is fever present. It can make an excellent healing poultice or tea for injuries involving sprains, twists, knocks, concussions etc, where it can improve circulation, ease inflammation and relieve pain. It is a classic old remedy for nosebleeds, sip a cup of Yarrow tea slowly to help stop the bleed.
 
Interestingly, it is also an excellent herb for breaking down and dissolving blood clots so can also be used effectively for thrombosis, congealed and stagnated blood, to speed up the healing of deep bruises and bleeding beneath the skin. These seemingly contradictory actions explain why Yarrow is a first choice herb for any problems relating to circulation generally. Its actions on the blood vessels makes it very useful in formulas for high blood pressure. It can also be useful in the prevention and treatment of both ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke. Angina also. It also stimulates production of fresh blood cells in the bone marrow so can make a very reviving and fortifying remedy throughout chronic illness and when recovering from a long haul heath condition. Yarrow herb could be added in with other herbs for anaemia. It can also help to drain escaped blood from an aneurysm back into the blood vessels.
 
In traditional folk medicine, Yarrow is said to regulate bodily fluids which can explain its wide ranging health benefits including on the urinary system, circulatory system, respiratory system and digestion. It is regarded as a strong 'blood purifier' (improves all elimination channels) and all round cure-all.
 
Secondly, Yarrow has a significant anti-inflammatory action with very wide ranging health applications and makes a valuable addition to many herbal formulas.
 
Sprains, strains, pulled muscles, repetitive strain injury etc. can all be helped with regular use of yarrow.
 
Its strong astringency also helps to dry out tissues, can be used for sore, spongy or infected gums and mouthwashes for mouth ulcers and soreness, sore throat and tonsillitis.
 
This action on blood flow makes yarrow valuable when the menstrual flow is very strong and needs reducing. This can happen around menopause time or with conditions like fibroids. My favourite formula for symptomatic relief from heavy menstrual bleeding contains equal parts of Yarrow, Ladys mantle and Shepherds purse. It is also considered an excellent tonic for the entire pelvic area and all its reproductive tissues, easing vaginal discharges, toning the uterine tissues and connective tissues when out of place or prolapsed. Yarrow can also help to slow blood flow and heal tissues after giving birth, use a sitz bath if at all possible for for this purpose. Yarrow could also be part of a formula (with herbs like Chamomile and/or Black Haw and Cramp Bark) to help ease the pain and discomfort of menstrual cramps. Again paradoxically, Yarrow is very good at bringing on menstruation, here it acts as a menstrual regulator to help by breaking up congestion or stagnation in the womb in order for it to be released properly. It is known to help promote regular periods where they are sporadic or absent.
 
Fever, colds and flu and all similar feverish conditions like measles, chicken pox etc can all be helped with Yarrow tea. It promotes sweating which helps lower body temperature safely and encourages the free movement of all fluids, stagnant fluids are always implicated in poor health. It has been used in the past asacsubstitute for quinine. Yarrow is sometimes described as bringing heat out of the body to the surface so is considered a cooling remedy. It also induces calm during the fever, often leading to a deep restful sleep.
People with ruddy complexions, bluish tinges to their nose or cheeks and blood stagnation or recurring fevers could particularly benefit from Yarrow. Its ability to indiuce sweating can also be useful to cool the body in cases of heatsroke.
 
Yarrow is an excellent digestive or 'bitter tonic'. It tones the mucous membrane lining of the entire digestive tract. It is useful in cases of diverticulitis, colitis, dysentery, diarrhoea, indigestion, nausea and it helps to improve a poor appetite. It protects the liver from the harmful effects of various toxins as well as helping hepatitis B & C and jaundice.
It can help with cramping or spasm in the digestive tract and its bitter components stimulate the pancreas and can help in diabetes and all the circulatory problems that arise from the condition.
Helps to both prevent and heal gastric and peptic ulcers. Yarrows astringency makes it useful in the treatment of hernias.
 
Yarrow essential oil has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitical properties. It has been shown to be effective against the Babesia parasite. It also has a long historical use in herbal formulas against malaria. The fresh leaves, when rubbed in to the skin, also make an effective insect repellant.
 
High blood pressure can be helped as part of a herbal formula as Yarrow relaxes the blood vessel walls and acts as a vasodilator, allowing more blood to flow through the vessels with reduced resistance. This is how Yarrow can also help with chilblains and poor circulation disorders such as Raynauds disease, varicose veins and haemorrhoids.
 
Yarrow helps to protect the eyes from damage caused by the chemotherapy agent Cisplatin.
 
Its astringency can help with bladder infections and cystitis. It also forms a part of many formulas to help with urinary incontinence and bed wetting as well as prostate problems resulting in increased frequency of urination. It is also known to help with improving kidney function and eliminating excess fluids held in the body, water retention, oedema.
 
Yarrow may also be useful in neurodegenerative such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis and the associated complications. Link to an extract detailing yarrow effects on MS sufferers here. A tea can be used as a wash over painful areas as in neuritis and nerve pain. It can be added to a poultice or warm compress to alleviate back pain and to help resolve spinal injuries.
 
It can also help alleviate dizziness and headache when 1-2 cups of tea are sipped throughout the day.
 
Yarrow has a good reputation for rheumatism and arthritis too. Take up to 4 cups daily, as hot as you take it to induce a mild sweat and to get the fluids moving healthily.
 
Yarrow can also be used to help ease anxiety and induce calm, alleviating restlessness. Drink up to 3 cups of tea daily and add to baths too.
 
Steaming the face with Yarrow infused water is said to improve the complexion and reduce wrinkles.
 
It is also a potent antioxidant.
 
Cysts and abscesses can be treated with Yarrow as part of a wider herbal formula.
 
The root can also be used in wound treatments, Native Americans chewed the fresh root for bleeding.
 
The volatile oils and bitter components are excellent for the respiratory system. It has been used in pneumonia, pleurisy, tuberculosis and in coughs of all kinds, especially if the cough brings up blood. It also works to clear catarrh from the system, in all organs such as the lungs and kidneys/bladder.
 
A strong tea made from the leaves and flowers can be used asa wash or poultice to the scalp to prevent hairloss.
 
Chewing fresh leaves is said to help alleviate tooth ache pain.
 
 
 
 
 


 


dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

* Avoid use during pregnancy.

* Contact dermatitis may occur in sensitive individuals, avoid use of herb in this case.

* Yarrow use may also cause photosensitivity in some - the skin becomes reactive upon exposure to sunlight. Stop taking immediately if this occurs.

Adult 

Tincture: Up to 5 mls up to 3 times daily

Dried herb in tea form:  1/2 - 1 teaspoon of dried herb per cup, infuse for 15 minutes. Up to 3 cups daily

 

Children

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.
 
Child watering plants

 

 

 

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