Botanical name: 

Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 11:51:53 -0700
From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>
Subject: Re: What should I do with yarrow?

>On a recent camping trip my sister cut herself rather badly slicing watermelon. The area had a lot of yarrow growing, and I remembered the description from Dian Buckman's book that yarrow was an "old wound herb," supposedly a favorite of Achilles. I picked a stalk, bruised it and told her to wrap it around her finger. The bleeding stopped almost immediately. Score one for the good guys!
>I have lots of yarrow growing in my yard at home (it even gets into the lawn!), and I was wondering if there is anything I can or should do with it. What else is it useful for? Should I pick a bunch, bundle it and dry it? Should I use it in infusions? Tincture? Should I use stems, leaves and blossoms, or just certain parts?

Some rough class notes about yarrow:

Tending the stand: This plant is a hardy perennial that is difficult to eliminate. In the lawns, if you mow Yarrow it will bloom under the lawn mower blades. These stands do not require tending. If you are at too small of a stand for your needs, keep walking and leave the rest for fallow.

Harvesting: Harvest in flower and gather the whole flowering heads. You will not hurt the plants you harvest, they will grow right back. You can also harvest the whole above ground parts including leaf, stems and flowers. This adds a bitter quality to the finished product. No special harvesting equipment needed.

Processing: Yarrow for tincture can be used fresh or dried. For oils and salves, you can use the fresh Yarrow if you wish. It does not contain much water and will not cause your oil to go rancid. For tea, dry the herb. Fresh poultice of leaf can also be used. Judge the quality of your Yarrow by its smell. For use with the I Ching, gather straight stalks.

Uses: Yarrow stops bleeding externally and internally. Externally use fresh poultice of the leaf, oil or salve. You can also treat external bleeding by taking Yarrow internally. Use two to four droppers of tincture. It is good for nosebleeds. If they are chronic, see a doctor. If all else fails, treat the symptoms by taking Yarrow everyday and lowering the dosage to as little as possible. After a while this may become ineffective, so switch to other blood coagulants like Ceanothus.

If you are bleeding internally, it is not the time for self treatment with Yarrow. Check out an emergency room with a friend. In a life or death situation in the mountains, Yarrow may be a lifesaver. Yarrow is also used for heavy menstrual bleeding. However, it is symptom treating only. I would move to different herbs for the woman's reproductive cycles. I personally know a woman who took Yarrow to stop bleeding after an abortion. Unfortunately, this bleeding was part of the healing process. Instead of passing blood she passed blood clots. This is much more difficult and more likely to promote infection. She finally had a D&C. The moral of the story is do not self treat if you do not know what's wrong.

On the outside, Yarrow, with its mild disinfecting and soothing qualities should be included in your arsenal of external herbs for general rashes and skin irritations. It may work when the others fail on certain irritations.

Yarrow is a diaphoretic; it makes you sweat. Yarrow tincture is a sauna in a bottle. This can be useful for cleaning your skin, and unclogging your pores. This can also be useful in beginning stages of colds and flus. An alterative like Oregon grape root will bring on the whole cold at the beginning stages of the cold. Yarrow, on the other hand, will only bring on a fever. This is good for possibly killing the infection by raising your temperature. The best way to use it is a hot cup of tea followed by a steamy shower, sauna, or bath, then bundle up with lots of blankets in bed for another cup of tea and a couple hours of reading a good book, or a print out of the days herblist posts. Hopefully you will sweat out the cold before it starts.

When I was a teenager, I heard that Yarrow was good for fevers. I had a fever that would not break for three days. It may have been more but it was all so dream like by that time. Every day sweat, sweat, sweat. I would wake up in the night, sheets wet, shivering cold. I took Yarrow and it felt bad inside me. It made me weak and sweat even more. Yarrow is only for certain kinds of fevers. Yarrow will raise your fever and make you sweat. This might break a stubborn dry fever. However, if the fever is a wet fever to begin with, it will only drain you of energy. Know your herb before you use it.

Yarrow is an aromatic bitter, ideal in increasing peristalsis for mild stomach indigestion, that bloated feeling, flatulence, nausea, and excessive eating of heavy foods during the holidays at your family's house. Take one dropper of tincture or cup of tea as needed. If you steep the flowers only, you will get an aromatic that tastes good and is not bitter. If you boil the flowers by mistake, or if you use the whole plant, you will have an aromatic bitter that may be stronger for stomach problems.

Yarrow is an ancient herb steeped in mythology. A sacred herb in many cultures, Yarrow stalks are used for the I Ching instead of coin.

Yarrow is also used for a variety of eruptive diseases like measles, and other skin problems.

Related plants: There are many colors of Yarrow in the ornamental garden. Though beautiful to behold, I prefer the white native species. In general, use the native species over the ornamental. The ornamental species are bred for smell or color, not usually for medicinal value.

From: "Kathy J. Wells" <Dianthius.AOL.COM>

Yarrow can be used in creams, tinctures, teas, etc. I don't recommed using it except for composting. One leaf can help speed up a wheelbarrow full of compost. It can cause Sun-sensitivity if taken internally and people with extremly sensitive skin shouldn't go near the stuff. I have some but I have to wear gloves when I'm working with it. Use it for pot-pourii, dried arrangements.

From: Henriette Kress <HeK.HETTA.PP.FI>

>Some rough class notes about yarrow:

And, any olde herbal you find, it'll list yarrow, for everything from cough to eczema -- it was the wonder herb of the period for some hundred years.

From: christopher hedley <christopher.GN.APC.ORG>

My thanks to Howie as well...

This is a Gaelic incantation used by women when picking yarrow. Source, A Englishman's Flora by Geoffrey Grigson, J M Dent and sons, London and Melbourne, pub 1955 and 1987. This is a wonderful source for folklore of british herbs.

I will pick the smooth yarrow that my figure may be sweeter,
that my lips may be warmer,
that my voice may be glader.
May my voice be like a sunbeam,
may my lips be like the juice of the strawberry.

May I be an island in the sea,
may I be a hill in the land,
may I be a star in the darktime,
may I be a staff to the weak one:

I shall wound every man,
no man shall hurt me.

Yarrow was originally used for wounds made with iron, being named for Achilles, presumably at a time when iron weapons were first being used.

The root may be chewed for toothache.

The oil extract from the flowers makes a good bath oil for strong women who have been abused by the world.

Yarrow is theoretically a cause of phototoxic rashes but I have never known it to be so in practice. The american sub-species is said to have more volatile oil and any plant high in volatile oil can be irritating if handled too much.

Yarrow protects against radiation poisoning and the flower essence made in sea water can be used during radiotherapy treatment. This is available in the California flower essence range.

Christopher Hedley