Botanical Name: Achillea millefolium
Common Name: Yarrow
Energetics: drying, clearing, cooling
Primary Constituents: lactones, flavanoids, linalool
Actions: anti-bacterial, antiseptic, aromatic bitter, diaphoretic, hemostatic, astringent, styptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anticoagulant
Field ID and Growing Habits:
Perennial herb, varieties of which grow in North America, Europe, and Asia. Millifolium refers to the appearance of many soft tiny leaves stemming from a single artery, though in fact they are single feathery leaves growing from the stalk. Long stem, leaves growing from the single stalk, and many small usually white, sometimes pink, flowers in a flat-topped umbel, clustered at the top of the plant in bloom. Rhizomatous and often spreads by colonial rhizome matting. Prefers sunny meadows and poor soil.
For bites of any kind, to prevent infection, soak the area in hot (not burning) strong yarrow tea, as a part of repetitive acute treatment. This helps improve blood flow, clears and prevents infection, and is a mild anti-inflammatory as well. Yarrow has an anti-septic action toward any open wound, and in skin infections such a staph. Especially good for any time the skin is broken in an unclean way, such as bites, rips, and tears. Internally, it is helpful in clearing respiratory viruses (not allergies), and is anti-infective to prevent secondary bacterial infections. It gently stimulates adaptive immunity for combating colds and flus. Historically known as a fever breaker, it is diaphoretic, promoting sweating and the release of toxins. It is hemostatic and stirs up stagnant blood (decreases capillary congestion), while having a cooling, flowing effect. It can also have a purifying and slightly thinning effect on the blood, with an astringent quality, and is often used for hemorrhaging. It is used as a vascular tonic to help build and strengthen the blood vessels. It has also been know to assist in many gynecological complaints, particularly in relation to the blood. Used during labor, childbirth, and shortly thereafter to decrease excessive bleeding. As an aromatic bitter, it can be used as a digestive aid.
Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings:
The constituent B-iso-thujone, soluble in alcohol, can cause intestinal discomfort. Not used in the early stages of pregnancy. As with anything, some people are allergic, particularly to the pollen.
Plant Parts Used:
Leaves, flower, and sometimes root. Stalks are not dangerous but do not contain many medicinal compounds as do other parts.
Medicinal Preparations and Dosage:
Yarrow extracts well in all menstruums- alcohol, vinegar, glycerin, honey, water, oil. Used both externally and internally.
In Asia, the stalks are traditionally used as divination sticks when throwing the I-ching.
The genus name Achilles comes from the myth of Achilles. His mother held him by the heel as an infant and dipped him in yarrow tea to protect him. Thus, his only weak point was the heel by which she’d held him. He used yarrow too in the Trojan wars, to staunch the bleeding of his injured soldiers.
Herbal Healing for Women, Rosemary Gladstar
Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth, Sharol Tilgner
Book of Herbal Wisdom, Matthew Wood
Herbal First Aid Course, 7Song