Medicinal benefits of yarrow have been known for centuries. Its genus name, Achillea, comes from a legend that says Achilles used this herb to stop the bleeding of his wounded soldiers. Chinese believe that yarrow represents the balanced ying and yang. They used it in divination rituals to find love and manipulate dreams. It was part of the I. Ching ritual that uses 64 straight yarrow sticks to perform divinations.
Jesus also used the medicinal benefits of yarrow when giving this herb to Joseph to stop a wound from bleeding. Yarrow became one of the nine holy healing herbs that early Christian women gave in bundles to the less fortunate. It is also used in a soup to ward off evil spirits, since yarrow is believed to have magical properties. Druids sprinkled yarrow in doorways to protect against evils and used the stems to predict the weather.
What is Yarrow?
Yarrow is part of the Asteraceae family which includes sunflowers, daisies and thistles. It is closely related to chamomile and chrysanthemum. There are about 140 types of yarrow which are native to temperate regions of Europe, Asia and North America. You can grow yarrow if you live in USDA zones 3 through 9. Yarrow needs dry soil with good drainage and lots of sunlight.
This plant produces colorful flowers in shades of pink, purple, red, salmon, white, and yellow. Most species grow between two to four feet in height. Many types of yarrow are hybrids. The most popular ones have yellow and white flowers. Yarrow improves the soil quality and repels pests, so it is very beneficial to gardeners.
How to Use Yarrow?
Yarrow used to be a popular vegetable centuries ago. In the 17th century its leaves were prepared and consumed like spinach. It has a similar taste to tarragon and can be a substitute for this herb. Yarrow’s flavor is sweet and bitter at the same time. This herb is used to make infused oils and vinegars. Traditionally, it was used to make liquor, bitters and beer.
Harvest the flowers, stems and leaves when the plant blooms. Flowers are edible and they can also be steeped as a tea. Both the flowers and leaves are rich in nutrients and phytonutrients. Tea tastes bitter so place some honey or lemon to give it a better flavor. Other people combine it with ginger, echinacea, peppermint and elderflower for more digestive and respiratory benefits.
Medicinal benefits of yarrow come from the plant’s phytochemicals which include carotenoids, flavonoids and terpenes. Antioxidants isolated from yarrow include sesquiterpenoids, paulitin, isopaulitin, desacetylmatricarin, psilostachyin, luteolin, apigenin, casticin, centaureidin and artemetin. This herb can provide iron, phosphorus and sulfur from its leaves.
It is said that no herbal first aid kit is complete without yarrow. You can make an infused oil to treat wounds, bruises and muscle pain. Grind leaves and flowers and cover them with a carrier oil, one part dried plants and four parts oil. Seal the jar with a lid and store it in a dark place for a few weeks. Shake it daily and strain after a month. Use the oil as is or melt it with beeswax and essential oils to make an herbal salve.
Use dried leaves and flowers to make a tincture. Grind them and place them in a glass jar covered with 80 proof alcohol. Leave the mixture in a dark place to infuse for a month and a half to two months. This tincture can also be used as a mosquito repellent.
There is no established dose for medicinal benefits of yarrow. Daily doses of 250 to 500 milligrams are generally considered safe up when consumed in a year according to studies conducted. The amount that’s needed may change from person to person depending on the condition. It is best to follow instructions on product labels and consult with a doctor or homeopath.
Medicinal Benefits of Yarrow
Medicinal Benefits of Yarrow for women can be read in another article.
Yarrow has long been used to treat wounds since it is a natural antiseptic, which can prevent infections. Medicinal benefits of yarrow include a chemical called achelline which can stop bleeding. This facilitates coagulation of the blood, which helps the wound close faster. Studies show that yarrow powder can be sprinkled on wounds to dull pain. Yarrow oil can even heal from napalm (a flammable liquid used in wars) burns. For this reason it is known as the “herb of the military”.
Yarrow is considered the most powerful antiseptic that can be found. This herb has a natural ability to prevent wounds from getting infected. It heals external wounds and prevents internal infections because of its antimicrobial properties. Medicinal benefits of yarrow activate blood platelets in the affected area, protecting the body from bacteria.
Medicinal benefits of yarrow also help with many skin conditions such as rashes, broken skin and hemorrhoids. Anti-inflammatory properties of yarrow make it ideal to treat skin problems like eczema and calm skin inflammation. Yarrow is used by the cosmetic industry since it can remove the appearance of scars. People with acne scars can be treated with yarrow essential oil diluted in a carrier oil.
Consume it orally or use a healing ointment that contains yarrow. Yarrow tea will help the body cleanse itself from within and enhance skin cell regeneration.
Insomnia and Anxiety
Yarrow has a similar effect to diazepam (Valium), which is commonly prescribed for anxiety issues. A study found that medicinal benefits of yarrow remained effective after short term and repeated use. It works long term as well. This study looked at the anti-anxiety and sedative effects of a hydroalcoholic extract from the aerial parts of yarrow on animals.
Yarrow contains both flavonoids and sesquiterpene lactones which are useful in stopping inflammation. Medicinal benefits of yarrow been used in India, Europe and China to treat inflammation of the intestines and the female reproductive tract. Inflammation is the cause of many illnesses, even arthritis and it can occur in any organ. Preventing inflammation will provide better overall health. This herb also has astringent properties.
Cure Colds and Asthma
Traditional medicine uses the medicinal benefits of yarrow to treat the flu, fevers and colds. Yarrow tea can dilate pores and blood vessels so they remove toxins from the body through perspiration. As a diaphoretic, yarrow can help induce sweat to break a fever. This herb has antiseptic properties that can fight viruses and infections. It can also reduce inflammation and coughing.
Yarrow has calming properties that help with blood circulation and facilitate oxygen, which ease the symptoms of asthma. As a bronchodilator it helps relax the bronchi and calm the inflammatory airways.
Medicinal benefits of yarrow include its antispasmodic activity which helps alleviate gastrointestinal conditions such as flatulence, leaky gut, diarrhea and stomach cramps. This herb can help reduce muscle spasms that can cause inflammatory bowel diseases and gastrointestinal problems. Its antispasmodic benefits are probably due to the plant’s flavonoids. Yarrow is a bitter herb that can be used as a tonic to stimulate digestive juices.
High Blood Pressure
A study was done to prove that yarrow works as a hypotensive, vasodilatory and bronchodilatory agent. So it can lower high blood pressure, relax blood vessels and improve breathing. This herb helps people suffering from hypertension.
Yarrow extracts have anti tumor properties, specifically in the case of pancreatic cancer since this herb targets lipid metabolism and activates regulatory pathways which promote malignancy of the cancer.
Side Effects of Yarrow
Using medicinal benefits of yarrow could cause drowsiness and increased urination. Test first before using topically as it may cause skin irritation or dermatitis. Stop its use if you see any sign of irritation and it can make skin more sensitive to sunlight. Those allergic to plants in the Aster family, including daisies and ragweed, should not use this plant internally or externally.
Yarrow contains thujone, like wormwood, so be careful not to use large amounts of yarrow oil because it can have a narcotic effect on the brain. This herb also contains coumarin, which thins the blood. So it should not be used before surgery (it can slow blood clotting) or if using blood thinning medication. Avoid use if taking lithium, high blood pressure medication, stomach antacid medication, and any drug that causes sleepiness.
Consult your doctor before using medicinal benefits of yarrow if you are using medications or have chronic diseases. Pregnant women should not use this herb since it can bring on the menses, so it could cause miscarriage. Speak with your doctor before using this herb if breastfeeding. There is no evidence to suggest whether this herb is safe or not for children.