We recently added yarrow to our medicinal garden and it’s finally blooming. It is a unique plant in that the leaves and flowers can both be used topically and internally. It’s very versatile, treating many ailments and improving health.
Yarrow is actually quite pretty and I find the pungent scent intoxicating. I love harvesting the flowers because they smell so lovely. Which I find funny because pests hate it. This plant is virtually pest free and even when I found caterpillars trying to devour the neighboring comfrey, the yarrow remained untouched. Another funny note off of that fact, yarrow attracts beneficial insects like ladybugs and those creepy parasitic wasps. If you have not seen a clip of what those things do, you need to take the time to find a video. As long as you’re not squeamish. Anyways, these beneficial insects help with the nasty little buggers you want out of your garden, so plant plenty of yarrow.
The colors I see most often in yarrow flowers that people grow in their gardens are white and pink.
The leaves are soft and feather-like in both appearance and texture. Both flowers and leaves are used for their medicinal properties. An all around, pretty plant. This herb is actually my daughter’s favorite. She will harvest them with me and sneak off with one. I have seen them stashed in her dresser from time to time.
One medicinal trait yarrow has that many other plants do not have is that it’s styptic. This means that it can stop bleeding when used as a poultice, or powder form. Seek medical attention for severe wounds, but yarrow can aid in minor wounds where it is difficult to stop bleeding. Another nice feature of this herb is that it is also antiseptic, vulnerary, and anti-inflammatory; all great properties to assist with infection prevention and healing.
When ingested, yarrow is diaphoretic, expectorant, antispasmodic, hemostatic, and analgesic.
Being diaphoretic, yarrow induces sweating. This sounds more like a nasty side effect rather than something helpful, but this can help cool the body when it’s needed, like a bad fever. Sweating–though unpleasant–is our body’s natural way of cooling off. When we’re sick, sometimes our bodies do a horrible job at this, so inducing a good sweat without wasting our body’s energy on a vigorous run can help break that fever. Yay to the gross ways our bodies adapt and regulate–homeostasis, baby!
Yarrow, much like mullein, is an expectorant. This means that yarrow can assist in getting rid of sputum (a fancy word for that lovely spit and mucus mixture you get when you’re sick and congested) in airway passages. Although I prefer using mullein for nasty coughs and colds, yarrow does help with knocking that congestion out if you’re already taking it for a fever.
Yarrow is antispasmodic, which can help with treating some cases of IBS, along with other dietary changes. An antispasmodic aids in relieving involuntarily muscle spasms, which is why this herb can help. Being that it is an antispasmodic, it can also help with menstrual cramping. Never use while pregnant though because it is a uterine stimulant. However, it is awesome to use after giving birth as it helps tone the uterus and helps with any hemorrhaging. Breastfeeding? You should be fine in lower doses. If you are your baby have an allergy to any plants in the aster family (this includes flowers like sunflowers and daisies) then just avoid it altogether.
If your goal is to use yarrow for its hemostatic properties, I do advise that you consult with a physician if it’s because you believe you have internal bleeding. I am all for natural healing and I can see yarrow’s use in something like excessive menstrual cycles, or symptoms caused by uterine fibroids. Those are chronic ailments that are not as life threatening as a head injury, or an abdominal injury from a car accident. If you ever suspect internal bleeding, seek medical attention to see the underlying cause, then go about educated treatment from there. Don’t just consume a bunch of yarrow without a diagnosis. Please. Ever. With any herb or medication.
Yarrow is technically analgesic, but it’s really for minor pains. If you’re already taking it for a fever or cold, chances are it will aid in any pain you may be feeling as long as it’s mild. There are stronger herbs out there if pain is your main concern.
So, there you have it. Yarrow in a nutshell. I could write individual blog posts, both small and large, about just the individual ways I can use this. Powder form for profuse bleeding out of small wounds, poultices for cuts and scrapes, teas for all the glories of being born female, pest control, teas for fever breaking, it is endless. This was not one of my first medicinal herbs, but it really should have been because it is amazing. I’m very excited my plant is blooming because I don’t have to buy them from an unknown source!
Do you use yarrow? Will you now that you know more about it? Let me know what you think or if you have any questions.
Want to see what herbs we have in our garden? Take a look here.