Yarrow grows to about 3 feet tall in fields and along the road and has lacy leaves that look much like feathers, and pretty white flower clusters. The wild yarrow is more potent than the garden variety. It has astringent properties that contract flesh and it was used by Achilles, who found that it beautifully knit together the sword wounds of his troops on the battlefield and was an antibacterial that helped with pain, inflammation, and swelling. It has wonderful properties that make it a medicine chest in itself. It has many uses that may seem complicated to us so it is worth studying this balancing, many-faceted herb.
It is very bitter although when it is crushed it has a pleasant smell. The fresh plant contains thujone which is also found in absinthe and which makes you feel drunk and euphoric, and might even cause hallucinations if you have too much, so be careful. This thujone dissipates when dried so it might be better to use dried cut yarrow in tinctures and teas. The thujone also dissolves when it is steeped in hot water.
Edible parts: Leaves and Flowers (Aerial parts). Only the flowers, buds, and leaves (aerials) are used to eat or in a tea. The leaves and flowers of Yarrow are used to make remedies. Although the leaves are bitter, they can be eaten raw or cooked; young leaves mixed in with a salad are used. Yarrow leaves are also used as a hop substitute for flavoring and as a preservative for beer.
Yarrow is used for fever, common cold, hay fever, to improve menstruation, to stop dysentery, diarrhea, to improve appetite, to assist gastrointestinal (GI) tract discomfort, and to induce sweating. It stops bleeding externally and internally. When you get a wound, it helps balance bleeding and helps form a scab. The powdered dry herb or the fresh herb poultice stops bleeding from deep cuts and wounds almost immediately. Yarrow’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties make it a perfect first aid remedy. A yarrow tea bath or topical application with the ointment or oil can be useful for rheumatic joints and varicose veins. It makes a wonderful facial steam that improves complexion.
The anti-inflammatory, cooling and anti-infectious properties are available in the Yarrow essential oil. The oil is massaged into the forehead or the neck for headaches. 2-3 drops of yarrow essential oil per ounce of St. John’s Wort oil is a wonderful remedy for sunburn. Yarrow oil is used in salves or lotions to apply to the skin to soothe acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
Yarrow is a bitter herb that stimulates digestion and treats poor appetite due to low digestive secretions and general inflammation. Yarrow brings blood to the surface of the body, thereby inducing sweating. It may lower blood pressure. Yarrow fights infection, stimulates sweating and lowers fever. Yarrow might be used as a remedy to for asthma attacks through thinning the blood and increasing blood flow to the lungs. Some people chew the fresh leaves to relieve toothache.
Yarrow might remedy hemorrhage during childbirth. It assists to stem the flow of blood and prevent painful clots. It is often used in a sitz bath after birth to cool and heal tissue. It is helpful to stimulate the function of the uterine tissue and tones and cools down inflammation.
The whole plant can be used externally as a poultice, salve, balm, soap or shampoo