Botanical Name: Achillea millefolilum
Energetics: Harmonizing, with tendency towards cooling, drying
Major Properties: Styptic (stops bleeding), analgesic (stops pain), anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, vulnerary (heals wounds) - a very short list of yarrow's major properties!
Examples of Uses: Control bleeding (external or internal), relieve pain, break up bruising, make fevers productive, lower blood pressure
Parts Used: Upper aerial parts when at full bloom and vibrant
Dried (for teas or winter use)
Yarrow can be as useful to us as it was to Civil War soldiers who carried it into battle to staunch bleeding from wounds. Not only is it a styptic (that is, it stops bleeding), but it is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, and thus also promotes and speeds healing. To use it, simply gather some yarrow leaves, mash them up with your fingers or teeth, and hold on the wound.
Yarrow also helps restore healthy blood flow to a bruised area. Try this experiment the next time you experience a bruise: apply yarrow to half of the bruised area and see if it disappears more quickly. In addition, yarrow helps alleviate the pain associated with a wound or bruising – another great benefit when hiking.
Yarrow, along with plantain, are my go-to herbs for first aid needs. Yarrow stops bleeding very quickly. Along with plantain, it will help to close up the wounds, too. I lean toward using plantain for oozing, dirty wounds and yarrow for clean bleeds.
I make several quarts of yarrow tincture each summer for spraying on bruises - mine and my grandkids. I often tell my kids to just let my grand boys bathe in yarrow after going rollerskating! Although that would be a bit much, I do encourage adding some yarrow to the bath water and let them soak a bit.
Yarrow ointment is also great to keep in the bathroom for shaving nicks or in a shop for cuts or burns.
Yarrow is part of a tincture fever blend that I make with equal parts of yarrow, elderflower, and peppermint.
Here is a great podcast about yarrow that is well worth your time.
This brief overview merely highlights my observations. There is, of course, a great deal of information that you can find on the Internet or in books. Or better yet - get together with other herbalists and share your experiences!
Please add your own experiences so that together we can create a more comprehensive overview.
As always, if you have a chronic ailment that is not resolving itself or an acute issue, seek the attention of your physician.