Yarrow, scientifically known as Achillea millefolium, is a perennial herb that belongs to the Asteraceae family. Other common names are wound wort, milfoil, blood wort, old-mans-pepper, stenchgrass, staunchweed, warrior plant and thousand leaf. It has a feathery, fern-like appearance, growing one to two feet tall and up to 2 to 3 feet wide, with umbellate flowering tops. Each flowering top contains clusters of 5-petaled flowers with yellow stamens. Foliage can be blueish gray or grayish silver and the colour of the flowers can vary from plant to plant, appearing in orange, pink, red, white and yellow. Blooming from May to October, yarrow is found in a wide range of habitats across North America, Europe, and Asia. Tending to grow in disturbed areas, you can find yarrow in meadows, fields, along roadsides and hillsides, sandy slopes and dry areas.
Harvesting Yarrow is best done in the summer when they are in flower, though the root is commonly harvested in the fall. A simple way to harvest Yarrow is by using scissors to cut the stems and tieing in bunches to hang dry. Once dry, the leaves and flowers can be removed to use in teas and other medicinal purposes. Yarrow root can be harvested using a small shovel, either by digging up the whole plant or some of it. Make sure to make use of the entire Yarrow plant if digging it up whole.
For centuries, traditional medicine has utilized yarrow for its numerous medicinal properties to treat a range of ailments. According to Greek Mythology, Achilles was immersed in yarrow tea by his mother as a protective measure when he was born. She held him by the heel while doing so. However, despite this precautionary act, Achilles suffered fatal injuries on his ankle - an area that had not been exposed to the herb. It is speculated that during the Trojan Wars, Achilles used yarrow's hemostatic properties to control blood loss among his soldiers. In another part of the world, the use of yarrow sticks in China was prevalent for rejuvenating the spiritual essence of the mind during divination with the I-Ching. The herb was believed to harmonize both yin and yang energies, enabling a connection between heaven and earth. Indigenous traditions in North America used Yarrow to keep flies and mosquitos away, the tea was used to induce sweating and lower fever. They would boil the plant to purify the air, and the leaves were also crushed to make a plaster for treating wounds.
Yarrow possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which make it a beneficial herb for treating conditions like arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome that stem from inflammation. Its diaphoretic properties make it an effective herbal tea to relieve fever, particularly when consumed hot. By inducing perspiration, Yarrow helps alleviate symptoms of colds and flu. Additionally, as an immune stimulant and mild expectorant, this herb can help eliminate excess phlegm in the body. Gargling with yarrow or using it as a throat spray can aid in preventing or healing sore throats. As an aromatic herb, yarrow aids in digestion, used for bloating, flatulence, and nausea.
Yarrow is a potent wound healer that aids in minimizing inflammation and accelerating the healing of cuts, burns, or wounds. This herb has been used to treat skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis as well. Its analgesic characteristics are beneficial for pain relief, while its antiseptic and antibacterial properties prevent infections from occurring on injuries. It's an excellent addition to any first aid kit because it can help stop bleeding caused by minor cuts or injuries.
Yarrow is a valuable plant for women's health, especially in treating gynecological issues. It has proven effective in regulating menstruation and reducing menstrual cramps, particularly for those with irregular periods. This is due to the presence of chamazulene and sesquiterpene lactones, which are anti-inflammatory compounds that provide relief from discomfort related to menstrual cramps. Additionally, yarrow helps detoxify the liver by eliminating toxins more efficiently; this leads to hormonal balance and reduced symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), such as bloating, breast tenderness, and mood swings.
Packed full of nutrients such as vitamins C and A, iron, magnesium, manganese, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, chromium, cobalt, selenium, thiamine, zinc and protein, yarrow is a beneficial herb for overall health and wellness. To achieve its medicinal benefits, yarrow can be consumed in various forms; as an herbal tea, tincture, or even capsules.
Yarrow has been regarded as a trusted ally in magical and ritual practices, representing healing, balance, peace, love, protection and courage. In Ireland's folklore tradition, young girls used to adorn themselves with yarrow necklaces thinking it would safeguard them against malevolent spirits. They also placed the plant's blossoms beneath their pillows for bringing forth lucid dreams that could offer valuable insights or glimpses of their soulmate. Furthermore, Yarrow was commonly hung inside newlyweds' bedrooms as a blessing to strengthen the relationship and fruitfulness in marriage.
To provide protection, yarrow was commonly held in amulets or charm bags and used as incense for spiritual activities. This herb is particularly beneficial for empaths and healers working in energy healing because it can balance and harmonize energies. Additionally, yarrow serves as an excellent cleansing agent that purifies spaces, individuals or objects involved in rituals. If you struggle with anxiety, incorporating yarrow into your routine may help to alleviate fear while promoting courage and confidence.
Moreover, this herb facilitates the creation of emotional boundaries while establishing a strong sense of spirituality. Carry a sachet of dried yarrow flowers and leaves that have been infused with your personalized intentions. Yarrow baths can assist in mental clarity, providing increased focus and understanding. This herb has been utilized for divination practices throughout history due to its ability to heighten intuition and spiritual connections.
In conclusion, yarrow is a versatile herb that offers numerous benefits for physical and emotional health, as well as spiritual practices. Its rich nutrient profile makes it an excellent addition to one's daily routine for overall wellness. Whether consumed in tea or tincture form, placed beneath pillows or burned as incense, yarrow serves as a powerful tool for those seeking balance and harmony in their lives.
***NOT recommended during pregnancy
***NOT recommended for people with severe allergies to Asteraceae family plants.
The content provided in this article serves solely for educational purposes and is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or medical condition. In case of any health concerns about yourself, or your family or if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or currently taking any medication; it's highly recommended that you seek professional advice from a licensed healthcare practitioner.
Please note that Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration have not assessed the information presented herein.