Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and its Uses

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Found: Plentiful everywhere, growing in fields, by roadsides, and in meadows and pastures.

Identifying: Flowering from May until October, the yarrow’s aromatic blossoms are white to pale purplish-pink and are umbrella shaped with a flat top.  The stem feels rough and is angular, with the leaves ranging in size from 3 – 4 inches long, 1 inch wide.  The leaves look feathery, and the plant as a whole has a rather hairy appearance. 

Parts Used: Leaves, stems, flowers.

Medicinal Uses: A great vulnerary – stops wounds from bleeding.  (Named for Achilles, who as legend has it, used yarrow poultices to help stop bleeding in his wounded soldiers). Tea great for severe colds, flu, fevers, and upper respiratory infections, anorexia, indigestion, gastric inflammations, and internal bleeding. Purifies blood and opens the pores. Bleeding hemorrhoids, kidney disorders. Clears heat and toxins, nitrogenous waste products in particular, which are removed through the urine.  Bitter tonic good for stimulating weak appetite; also good for general debility and convalescence.  Regulates blood flow; anti-inflammatory (contains over 100 anti-inflammatory compounds); relieves arthritis and rheumatism pain.  Good for menstrual irregularities such as painful menses, delayed menstruation, and painful, heavy periods.  Relieves spasms and inflammation; sometimes helpful with irritable bowel syndrome, colic, intestinal and uterine cramps.  Chew the root for toothache relief.  

Preparation:  Can be drunk as a tea (1 cup 2 – 3 times daily) or taken as a tincture (10 – 30 drops 2 – 3 times daily).  

Allergic Reactions/Warnings:  Shouldn’t be used by pregnant and nursing moms.  Some herbalists suggest that people allergic to plants in the aster family shouldn’t use yarrow.  May cause dermatitis. Shouldn’t be taken internally for long periods of time or in large doses, as it contains thujone, a toxic compound.

Note: These posts are not meant to be a medical guide but an overview.  Consulting an herbal specialist is always recommended.

3 thoughts on “Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and its Uses

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  2. Did you also know that Yarrow is a great compost accelerator? Just a few leaves will help the decomposition immensely. I have a big clump by my compost and snip off some of the leaves everytime I’m adding stuff. I think it may have something to do with its copper content, not sure, just know it works :) Lady bugs really like the flowers and they help keep the aphids at bay in the garden. So it is a very good plant to have around :) A bit invasive but nothing near as annoying as a mint plant run amuck 😉

    Herbal tea:

    2 tsp fresh Yarrow leaf & flower / 1 tsp dried leaf & flower 1 cup boiling water

    Place the herb in a container with a lid. Pour the boiling water (just off the boil) over the herb. Cover and stand for 5 minutes, then strain. Just use the leaves or flower parts. Add some honey to taste and enjoy.

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