Herbal Interlude with Yarrow


Yarrow (Achillea millifolium)

Family - Asteraceae

Yarrow has a glorious history.  It’s use as old as the human race.  In fact, the plant and it’s use is so ancient that the dinosaurs may have eaten it to stay healthy.  (Although I don’t know if there’s any proof of that). 

The botanical name Achillea comes from mythological roots, as the plant given to the Roman Hero Achilles to treat wounded comrades on the battlefield.  Achilleas himself was said to be dipped into a concoction of Yarrow to protect him from all harm.  He was dipped as a child, his mother holding him by his heals.  In the famous illiade, our hero was killed with an arrow to his acchileas heal.  A soft spot still called the same today. 

The second half of the botanical name millefollium means 1000 leaves.  This, referring to the plants numerous fine feather-like leaves. 

Yarrow was one of the medicinal herbs found in the Neanderthal burial site in Iraq, which dates from around 60,000 BC and has become famous in herbal medicine as one of the earliest indications of human’s use of medicinal plants.  

During the middle ages in Europe, Yarrow was strewn on entryway floors, tied to baby cribs, and placed next to birthing mothers to off witchcraft and other agents and workings of the Devil!

Yarrow’s use is still common today.  The herb is easy to find all over the world, and as we will see has tons of amazing uses.

Common Names

Most of Yarrows common names have to do with the plants ability to stanch blood flow and heal wounds.  Yarrow is also known an Milfoil, Soldier’s Wart, Nosebleed plant, Knight’s Milfoil, Carpenter’s weed.


Yarrow is a common, perennial, wild flower native to the Northern hemisphere.  The feathery, fern-like basal leaves form low growing mats in the spring that grow upward to flower from June through September.  The flowers form loose, flat umbels made up of several individual miniature, flat daisies.  Each flower originates from a different part of a stout stem. The whole plant is between 12 and 24 inches.  Yarrow is covered with fine downy hair that makes the plant soft to the touch.

Part Used

Yarrow fever from an herbalists perspective

Whole Plant is used.  The aerial parts of the plant including the leaf and flowers are used to make tea, tinctures, medicinal oils and salves.  The root, tinctured in brandy (or any 40% alcohol) is ideal for toothaches and mouth sores.

Primary Constituents

Like most whole herbs, Yarrow has a complicated and lengthy pharmacology.  Some of its principle constituents include flavonoids, vitamin C, bitters, tannins, 8-cineol, limonene, thiophenes, alkaloids, sterols, phenolic acids, coumarins, sesquiterpine lactones (including achillin), and volatile oils (including thujone, borneal, camphor, and pinenes.

Energetically, the plant is stimulating, cooling, drying and balancing.  Overall, Yarrow works to balance heat and fire with cool and moist.  

Yarrow has a bitter taste.

Medicinal Properties

Diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, carminative, hemostatic, antispasmodic, astringent, and stomatic.

Medicinal use

Yarrow can be employed for a wide variety of common complaints, making it one of the most valuable plant remedies in the herb cupboard. 

One of the most beneficial aspects of Yarrow is that is works to balance the heat or fire in the human system with a special affinity for the blood.  Yarrow is a “smart herb”.  Cooling and anti-inflammatory when things are how and stimulating when things are stagnated or not moving.  It is useful as an antiseptic, anti-infective and anti-inflammatory agent.  Helpful both internally or externally. 

an herbal interlude with yarrow

This common little herb also seems to speed healing when a feeling of trauma is present.  The trauma can be anything from a wound taken when cutting wood, a bug or animal bite, or a more subtle form of phycological trauma.  It’s all about how it feels.  If the wound, fever, toothache or other ailment feels traumatic, yarrow will most likely be a good addition to your formula.

Fever, Cold and Flu

Yarrow is and excellent addition to a formula for fever.  As it helps bring on sweating for both cold/ shivery and Hot types of fever.  A fever is hard work on the body and mind.  This herb can help the body maintain the stamina needed for the the body to do it’s work.

Click here to read “Fever from an Herbalists Perspective” for more about how a fever benefits the body and immune system and how to work with one safely using natural strategies.

Yarrow is best taken as a hot tea or tincture in hot water for cold/ shivery fevers or to promote sweating.  Small frequent doses work best.  For children consider 1 ml (10-20 drops) of the tincture in hot, sweetened water.  For adults the dose is up to 60 drops of the tincture in hot water, sweetened or not.  Both children and adults may take yarrow every 1 to 2 hours.

Traditionally, Yarrow is combined with herbs like lemon balm, mint and elder at the fist stages of a cold or flu.  And is often suggested for viral or eruptive kinds of diseases such as chicken pox and shingles.

To make a tea, use 1 tablespoon of the herb in 16 oz of boiling water.  Steep for 10 to 20 minutes. Drink about 4 oz every 2 hours until perspiration starts.  Then continue every 4 to 6 hours until the fever has run its course.

Yarrow tea taken at room temperature.

Yarrow tea or tincture taken hot will stimulate sweating and stimulate the immune system as described above.

When taken at room temperature, the tea has a mild laxative effect that stimulates digestion and works as a diuretic and disinfectant.  It is useful for treating urinary infections, cystitis, and urinary incontinence.  Yarrow seems to cool and sooth almost any kind of inflammation.  Making it useful for in all sorts of situations where pain, inflammation and heat are at the heart of the problem. 

Wound Healer

Its cooling, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent properties make this herb a powerful wound healer.  Use yarrow fresh in the field, as a tea, tincture, oil or salve to stop bleeding, decrease inflammation, pain, and prevent infection and speed healing.  When used on minor cuts, scrapes and insect bites, it almost has a numbing effect. 

Digestive aid and anti-inflammatory

Yarrow’s bitter taste is useful as both a stimulant and anti-inflammatory for the digestive system.  Use the tea cold or the tincture when the tongue is red with cracks down the middle.  This will get bile and pancreatic juices flowing and is helpful for lack of appetite, colic, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and mild polyps. 

Reproductive Tonic

Used as a reproductive tonic, Yarrow balances the blood flow in the pelvic area, working to both staunch heavy bleeding and stimulate bleeding when it’s slow and scanty. Use it as a tea, tincture or compress when there is congestion resulting in dark clotted blood and period pains or spotting between periods.  Use it as a tea, tincture or as a douche for vaginal infections.

Yarrow can be used alone or mixed with Shepard’s purse to check internal hemorrhage or excess external bleeding.

Essential Oil

The essential oil is a dark blue color resembling that of Roman Chamomile.  Like its relative, Yarrow essential oil is contains over 50% azulene, making it very useful in skin care products to reduce inflammation, minimize varicose veins and minimize scar tissue.  Use the root soaked in Brandy for one of the best toothache relief agents one can find. 

Interactions and Counter-indications

Yarrow is contra-indicated when pregnant.  Pregnant women should not take yarrow, because its ability to relax the smooth muscle of the uterus could cause miscarriage.

Because yarrow may increase the production of stomach acid, it can interfere with both over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

Product Suggestions

Wonderment Gardens

Wonderment Gardens LLC

At Wonderment Gardens we take great pride in our high quality, small batch herbal products.  Every product is made with the best wild crafted, organic and/or garden grown ingredients possible.  Then each is made with love, and integrity.  We hope you like them.  

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Yarrow | University of Maryland Medical Center

Rose, Jeanne, 375 Essential oils and hydrosols, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley Ca, 1999

Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, revised and expanded edition, Santa Fe, NM; Museum of New Mexico Press, 2003

Tierra, Michael, The Way of Herbs, Pocket Books, NY, NY : 1980

Greive, Mrs. M, A Modern Herbal Voume II, Dover Publications inc, 1981

20 thoughts on “Herbal Interlude with Yarrow”

    1. Thank you. This information comes from years of working with Yarrow. Blessings to you. Hope you enjoy the other posts as well

  1. Useful information. Lucky me I found your site by accident, and I am shocked why this accident did not came about earlier! I bookmarked it. Rosalinde Conway Christye

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you find the site useful. It’s a relatively new site as I really just started the blog in November.

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