This month, we’re celebrating one of our favorite herbs for all-around efficacy, yarrow! Yarrow has been used by human beings for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Yarrow even borrows its scientific name from the famous Greek hero, Achilles. Achillea millefolium, which you may also know by such sassy monikers as old man’s pepper and devil’s nettle, was said to be carried into battle during the Trojan War. There, it was applied to soldiers’ wounds to support their healing. As cool as that may be, we use it for all kinds of more everyday ailments.
As in the legend of Achilles, one of yarrow’s many uses is in fact wound healing. For this, its flowers are often topically applied. It’s also used externally to treat bug bites or other skin irritation like contact dermatitis, sunburn, and eczema.
Internally, yarrow has a wide variety of uses and has been known to benefit several areas of health. As a diaphoretic, it cools the body. Using yarrow can support detoxification or help when someone has inflammation or fever. Through sweating, yarrow helps release toxins and relieve a build-up of heat.
When you think of yarrow, think of an herbal assistant who helps balance your body’s flows.
This herb is super helpful when it comes to circulating things through or out of the body. Beyond its uses as a diaphoretic, it can support the urinary tract, lymph system, and menstruation. Assisting circulation and the elimination of waste, yarrow helps keep things clean and clear.
On the flip side, it can also help reduce the flow of fluid when that is what your body needs. As we saw in its external uses, it can act as a styptic, encouraging clotting of wounds. Herbalists also use it to reduce allergies and heavy menstrual flows.
These aren’t the only ways yarrow has been used over the years. Ask an herbalist or look for it in the ingredients of some of your favorite teas and tinctures to see how it can show up for you!
How to Take Yarrow
Externally, yarrow can be used in salves, sprays, and oils, or it can be applied directly to the skin, both fresh and dried.
Internally, we recommend taking yarrow as a tincture on its own or in combination with other herbs targeted to your needs.
As always, remember to consult with professionals before adding a new herb to your wellness routine, and check it against any seasonal plant allergies you may experience.
Planting Your Own Yarrow
Not only us yarrow a beautiful plant, but it’s a hardy one, easy for even the most beginner gardener to incorporate into their landscape. This herb is great for pollinators, which means you can help the local ecosystem when you plant it. As a perennial, it will return every year, growing a few feet high. It proliferates easily, which means it’s a great option for spaces you don’t want to spend a lot of time maintaining and are happy to cover a lot of ground. Deadhead them in midsummer to enjoy a second bloom! You can find yarrow at most local nurseries like this one, depending on seasonal availability.