Yarrow

Botanical name

Achillea millefolium

Common Names

Yarrow, soldier's woundwort, staunchwort, nosebleed plant

FAMILY

Compositae (Asteraceae)

Description

A flowering plant that multiples easily and could therefore become a stubborn weed.  

Part supplied

The dried flowers.

Food Use

Yarrow tastes a little like rosemary and can be used as its alternative to flavour meat dishes. Particularly suitable finely chopped with pheasant, hare, rabbit, squirrel or seafood as it can be a bit overpowering with milder game.

In Scandinavia, yarrow is called 'Field Hops' and used instead of hops to flavour beer or 'gruit ale'. The flowers and young leaves are used to make herbal teas where its antispasmodic properties help relaxation and improve wellbeing (and even, it is reputed, libido).  In Orkney 'Milfoil Tea' as it is known is taken to dispel melancholy.

Recipes

Use 1 teaspoon of dried herb to one cup of boiling water to make a tasty tea. Infuse for 5-10 minutes. Sweeten with honey or lemon to taste.

Alternatively add half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of tincture to a cup of warm water for a quick alternative to tea.

The herb can be added as a flavouring to gin, vodka and other infusions.

Medicinal Use

In herbal medicine it is often used in teas to head off colds and boost immunity, as well as to treat internal injury or bleeding. There are many common names for Yarrow but of note are those hinting at its healing properties: Woundwort, Nosebleed, Staunchwort, Bloodwort. In fact the botanical name Achillea was earned as yarrow was reportedly used to heal Achilles heel. 

In the Scottish Highlands fresh yarrow leaves were used as a pain-killing, styptic ointment for wounds and bleeding piles. This could be recreated by steeping yarrow leaves in gently heated oil, then strained and mixed with beeswax before cooling. 

In the Outer Hebrides, a leaf would be chewed to freshen the breath or to relieve a heavy period. It also contains alkamides which are pain-killing, anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant, with digestive and immune boosting properties. 

Remedy for a fever, stimulates digestion, antiseptic for the urinary tract, tones blood vessels. 

Key actions: Choleretic (increases bile), diaphoretic (induces perspiration), antibacterial, astringent, antispasmodic.

In clinic: Herbalists use this herb to treat common colds, fevers, diarrhoea, excessive bleeding and menstrual issues.    

If you are interested in the medicinal use of this herb please consult a herbalist. Herbs are generally used at medicinal strength, in blends, prescribed for each unique patient's condition.

Directions

Infusion: 1 teaspoon of herb (2 to 4 g) to a cup of cold water. Pour boiling water over the herb and leave to infuse for 5 to 10 minutes. Flavour with lemon, ginger or honey if desired. Drink 3 times a day unless otherwise told by a medical herbalist.

Tincture: Take 2 to 4 ml (1:5 tincture), 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.

Fluid extract: 1:1 Take 1 to 2 ml, 3 times a day or as directed by a practitioner.

Dried Herb: Maximum of 12 g per day may be taken as a powder or capsules.

Other Uses

Cosmetic Use

Cosmetically, yarrow tea can also be used as an astringent cleanser for oily skin, as a rinse for oily or greying hair or as a facial steam.

It is fantastic used after shaving to help heal nicks and cuts in record time! To make your aftershave astringent: cover yarrow leaves with neat vodka and leave in a sunny place for 3 weeks to produce a yarrow tincture. Combine with witch hazel, and if desired scent with a little bay and lemon oil.

Other Uses

Yarrow got its botanical name from Achilles who was reputed to have used the herb to staunch his wounds. Traditionally, Scottish children would use yarrow leaves to staunch a nose bleed!

In the Scottish Highlands fresh yarrow leaves were used as a pain-killing, styptic ointment for wounds and bleeding piles. This could be recreated by steeping yarrow leaves in gently heated oil, then strained and mixed with beeswax before cooling. 

In the Outer Hebrides, a leaf would be chewed to freshen the breath or to relieve a heavy period.  

A few leaves added to your compost pile will help to accelerate decomposition. 

Cautions

Contraindications

This herb is considered safe in food amounts. Do not take if you are allergic to this plant or other members of this plant's family (Compositae). Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children. If in doubt, please ask us or your medical herbalist.

PREGNANCY

Do not use during pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding without consulting professional advice. 

Side effects

Contact reactions are fairly common. Plant extracts cause few side effects when taken correctly but if a side effect is experienced please contact us.

Interactions with drugs

None known. 

Herbal remedies and supplements can interact with medicines. If you are taking medication please check with your medical practitioner, or call us, before taking herbs, supplements and medication together.

More Information

Yarrow is a dark green perennial plant that grows up to 60 - 80 cm high. It has feathery leaves and a slightly woolly appearance, with white flower heads arranged in flat-top clusters from May to June. Occasionally they are cream or pink. When you rub the leaves between your fingers you will smell a strong, medicinal 'rosemary' aroma. 

Yarrow grows throughout Scotland, except in very boggy sites, and is particularly fond of roadsides and grassy banks. It can be propagated by seed or root division. In the Hebrides, yarrow was used in charms to foretell the future and in China it was yarrow stalks used in the divination ritual of the I-Ching. 

Articles

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Recipes

Look in our recipes section for more uses of this herb.

Research

Read the latest PubMed research on this herb.

Add to BagAchillea millefolium - Yarrow flowers 100g £5.75
Add to BagAchillea millefolium - Yarrow flowers 500g £18.50
Add to BagAchillea millefolium - Yarrow flowers 1kg £36.75

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