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Yarrow in your Garden and your Medicine Chest

By Jess Lewis-Peltier
January 13, 2011
File under: Gardening, Herbs, Natural Remedies


Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a sacred healing herb with many medicinal uses that is a snap to grow in your home herbal garden. Yarrow has a rich history and was first noted in Greek mythology when providing Trojan soldiers relief from wounds on the battlefield. Primarily a blood tonic, Yarrow is effective in treating ailments ranging from nosebleeds to headaches, as well as vascular and menstrual issues and even baldness.

In the garden, Yarrow is an excellent companion plant because it keeps harmful insects at bay while attracting beneficial ones, such as bees, providing a rich source of nectar. Yarrow is also a superb addition to your compost pile, speeding decomposition. This hardy herb is extremely drought tolerant, loves well-drained soil, prefers a sunny western location in your garden and is best grown in a container as it spreads quickly and could soon take over.

Yarrow is also called Milfoil and Carpenter’s Weed and is as diverse as it is prolific, which makes it an extremely sustainable choice for your medicinal herb garden. Using rare or hard to find herbs often does not justify the environmental impact. Buy locally or grow your own whenever possible.

In your herb arsenal, Yarrow can be used topically to stop bleeding from skin abrasions, cuts and scrapes and is effective almost immediately. Combine Yarrow with Calendula and Arnica for a hard-to-beat topical healing salve for skin eruptions and bruises.

As a tea or chest rub, Yarrow is great for feverish colds and flu symptoms. It is also helpful for toothaches, cramps and as a kidney tonic. Varicose veins do not respond to many natural treatments, however the blood purifying properties of Yarrow are an exception, making this herb very effective for reducing the appearance of those little spidery veins.

The tea or a strong decoction (The resultant fluid obtained by mashing herbal materials and then boiling in water) is used for digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crone’s Disease and is anecdotally noted to ease bleeding from Barrett’s Esophagus.

Jess’s favorite multipurpose purifying tonic with Yarrow:

1 teaspoon Yarrow (flowers/leaves)
1 teaspoon Peppermint (leaves)
1 teaspoon Parsely (leaves)
1 teaspoon Burdock (root)
2 cups hot water

Combine and steep all ingredients in hot water for at least 10 minutes or as long as overnight. Drink warm if you need to move the blood. Drink chilled if you are experiencing feverish symptoms or excess bleeding.

Caution: Yarrow’s look-alike is water hemlock (aka poison hemlock) so if you are wild crafting, be confident in your identification or contact a specialist in your area. Prolonged use can cause skin rashes and sensitivity to sunlight so proper care and respect for this medicinal herb should be used.

Properties: antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, stimulant vasodilator and vulnerary.

Also known as: Milfoil, Old Man’s Pepper, Soldier’s Woundwort, Nose Bleed, Carpenter’s Weed, Bloodwort, Staunchweed, sanguinary.

Jess Lewis-Peltier, ‘The Holistic Yogini’ is a naturopath, biochemist, herbalist and yoga teacher living in southern California. Facebook Jess and follow her on Twitter.

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