By Heather Harris, Contributing Writer
Herb Profile: Yarrow
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.) is an important medicinal plant with different pharmaceutical uses, both internally as well as externally. This easy to grow herb can be prepared in a variety of ways, and for a variety of uses, making it a fast favorite in any herbal medicine cabinet!
Growing yarrow for yourself is easy, as it only requires partial sunlight, along with good drainage. You can plant this in an old plastic kiddie pool for best results, as the yarrow roots will spread quickly and can overtake a garden area. Another option is to plant it in a large flower pot and allow it to “live” on your patio or balcony. It’s pretty white flowers will make a beautiful landscape addition. When you are ready to harvest–anytime from June through September normally–simply cut the flower head about 1 inch from the soil. Gather leaves and blooms at the same time. Carefully rinse, tie together at the ends with a string and hang upside down to dry.
Yarrow has been used for centuries to treat various diseases including malaria, hepatitis and jaundice, and is commonly prescribed to treat liver disorders. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory agent and is a hepatoprotective herb.
Hepatoprotection or antihepatotoxicity is the ability to prevent damage to the liver. This damage is known as hepatotoxicity.
Other uses for yarrow commonly are for the treatment of:
high blood pressure
It’s easy to see why you need to have this important herb in your natural “medicine” cabinet!
Ways to Prepare
I like to use it in teas, by mixing 1/4 cup of the fresh herbs or 6 ounces of the dried herbs in 8 ounces of boiling water. This is very soothing when you have the flu or other colds. Yarrow also blends well with peppermint, rose hips and lemon balm for this purpose.
Known to help stop bleeding, you can apply the fresh leaves and blossoms to a clean, open cut. You want to make sure the cut is clean due to yarrow’s ability to help the skin heal faster, and you don’t want to have dirt in a closed wound. To apply the dried herb on cuts and scrapes, I make it into a salve first. You will need:
6 ounces dried yarrow (blossoms and leaves)
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 T. beeswax
5 drops lavender essential oil (optional-but great for helping to heal and has anti-bacterial properties)
Add the dried yarrow to the oil in an oven safe dish and allow to infuse in a 200 degree oven for 2 hours. Remove the infused oil, and strain out the plant matter. Since it has oils in it, place the used plant matter in the garbage. Add the beeswax and return to the warm oven to allow the beeswax to melt. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then add the essential oil Once completely melted, pour into containers. You can reuse old mint tins, or small glass jars.
To use yarrow as a tincture, which is great for varicose veins, you will need:
1/4 cup dried yarrow flowers
2 cups vodka
Pour vodka over flowers and allow to steep for 3-5 weeks. Strain herbs and compost. Soak a gauze pad in tincture and place directly on veins to help assist in shrinking. 3-5 drops of tincture can be used for indigestion, but only for SHORT periods of time. Overuse may put a strain on your liver, or may cause sensitivity to sunlight in some individuals. NOT for use by pregnant women.