It was said that Achilles carried this herb into to battle and used it to staunch the bleeding wounds of his soldiers. I love having it in my garden and have used it several times to stop bleeding after I’ve cut my finger, either with a butcher knife or my gardening pruners. To make a spit poultice, I harvest a tender leaf, chew it to break the cell walls and release the herbal constituents, and apply it directly to the cut. I then put a bandaid over the yarrow to hold it in place. The bleeding stops fairly soon even with extremely deep cuts.
Yarrow is a perennial herb that spreads easily through roots and seeds. It blooms spring to fall here in central Texas. It has stalks with white or pale pink or pale purple clusters of flowers and leaves that resemble squirrel tails. Mom my always calls it squirrel tail and that was also the Ojibwe name for the plant. It grows easily and can often be found along roadsides. It does well in poor soil. It is carefree, so don’t fuss over it. There are several newer varieties in the nurseries that may be brighter colors.
Traditionally, yarrow has been used for herbal and folk medicine and has a history of magical and ceremonial uses around the world. It is used a lot in biodynamic farming practices. The tender leaves and flowers are used fresh if possible, or the plant can be bundled and hung up to dry for later use. Teas or tinctures are commonly used as well as spit poultices in herbal first aid medicine.
Herbal actions of the plant include many applications. It is a diaphoretic, so it is helpful to bring down fever and induce sweating without raising the body temperature. It is commonly consumed as a tea for colds, fever, flu and bronchitis. It is hypotensive, so it may help reduce high blood pressure, especially when combined with other herbs. It is really good for deep cuts and bleeding wounds because it is vulnerary, hemostatic, astringent, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory. Yarrow has a special interaction and relationship with blood. It can stop bleeding, but can also start bleeding. It can stop heavy menstrual bleeding, but as an emmenagogue, it can also start up menses that have stopped for months. It is good for uterine fibroids. Other actions include diuretic, anti-viral, digestive bitter, and hepatic. It is useful for irritated bowels, deep burns, radiation and EMF exposure. It is cooling and drying in effect, so it used in hot moist physical conditions. It is the herb of choice when there is fever and hemorrhage combined.
Yarrow is a welcome resident in Gracie’s Garden and I would encourage you to plant it in yours. You can follow Gracie’s Garden, LLC on Facebook to keep up with my products and services and visit my website: www.gracebrycemh.com .
Have a great day!
Fritchey, P. Practical Herbalism, Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Powers, 2004, Whitman Publications, Warsaw, IN
Tompkins, P. & Bird, C. Secrets of the Soil, New Solutions for Restoring our Planet, 1998, Earthpulse Press, Anchorage, AK