Yarrow, Achillea millefolium
volatile oils, tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, salicylic acid, coumarins, sequiterpene lactones
anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antirheumatic, astringent, antispasmodic, antiseptic, carminative, diuretic, expectorant, hypotensive, tonic, digestive bitter, hemostatic, diaphoretic
Allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family. High doses may turn urine dark brown. Some sources say to avoid during pregnancy as it is used to stimulate menses. You can learn more via my article Herbs During Pregnancy: What Not To Take or Use When You’re Pregnant.
Yarrow is traditionally used for fevers, colds, flu’s, congestion, and to treat measles. In the kidneys, it is said to assist with stones or infection. It is a digestive bitter and can help relieve cramps, gas, and diarrhea.
Because of it’s ability to stop bleeding, it is used for excessive menstruation and postpartum bleeding. Yet at the same time it has been used to bring on menses acting as a normalizer. It is also used for endometriosis and to stop nosebleeds.
I have used yarrow as an infusion with mullein with good results after pulling muscles in my back. Historically yarrow was used for depression and fear. Yarrow was said to be used by Achilles to treat wounded soldiers, hence the Latin name Achillea.
The powdered herb is used as a styptic to stop bleeding. Traditionally a salve is made and used for bruises, cleaning wounds, and varicose veins. It is a great astringent, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory herb to use topically or via an herbal suppository for hemorrhoids. As an herbal oil it can be great topically to increase circulation or break up stagnation.
Usual Preparation and Dosage:
Tincture: 2-4 ml of a 1:5 in 25% alcohol three times a day.
BHC: 2-4 g dried herb
Commission E: 4.5 g dried herb, 3 teaspoons pressed juice, or 3 g fresh flowers daily.
Some sources say that it should not be used longer than 4 weeks at a time.
Growing and Wildcrafting Yarrow:
Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar has created a very nice video that discusses Yarrow, including how to grow and harvest it and use it as a styptic powder.
In this video Meagan from Growing Up Herbal helps us to identify Yarrow in the wild.
How to Make a Yarrow Infusion
Sometimes the simplest herbal recipes can be the best medicine. Since yarrow is commonly used at the first sign of a cold or with a fever I will share a recipe for a yarrow infusion. Making an herbal infusion is very easy.
1-2 tsp aerial portions dried yarrow
8 ounces boiling water
Place your herb in a mug or in a teabag, then pour boiling water over it and cover. It is important to cover herbs that are high in volatile oils to prevent the oils from evaporating. Allow the herbs to steep for 10-15 minutes.
Because yarrow can be bitter, a small amount of honey can help sweeten it. You can also include a pinch of dried peppermint for flavor and medicinal benefits.
Enjoying yarrow hot can cause diaphoresis and reduction of fever, and should be taken in small hourly doses. Drinking it cold is said to work well as a digestive aid and for the kidneys. Remember that it is always important to adjust dosages for children.
The Earthwise Herbal, Matthew Wood M.Sc.(Herbal Medicine), RH
Medical Herbalism, David Hoffman FNIMH, AHG
Back To Eden, Jethro Kloss, revised edition 1988