Yarrow has long been used as a medicinal plant. It’s also known as Soldiers Wort and Knight’s Milfoil. Achilles was said to use Yarrow to staunch the wounds of his soldiers and so the plant is also known as Achillea millefolium.
Highlanders use Yarrow in an ointment for wounds and in the treatment of sheep scabs and they also consider Yarrow tea a good defense against depression. The Swedish use it in making beer instead of hops—supposedly making the beer more intoxicating. I imagine it would be an acquired taste if you were used to hop beers.
Medicinally, Yarrow is an antiseptic and fights bacteria and has antispasmodic properties. In addition to its antispasmodic activity, the herb contains salicylic acid (a compound like the active ingredient in aspirin) and a volatile oil with anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful to relieve pain associated with gynecologic conditions, digestive disorders, and other conditions. Taken daily, yarrow preparations can relieve symptoms of menstrual cycle and uterine disorders, such as cramps and endometriosis. Yarrow has a drying effect and can be used as a decongestant. Sinus infections and coughs with sputum production may be improved by yarrow, especially when mixed with equal parts goldenseal.
Most make a tea with either an ounce of dried ground leaves in a pint of boiled water, or dropping loose dried leaves into a pint of boiling water and let it steep at least five minutes. It’s better if you allow it to steep ten to fifteen minutes as it makes a stronger tea. Some add ingredients such as goldenseal, a dash of cayenne pepper, or slippery Elm Bark. It may be sweetened with sugar or honey.
One of the things to keep in mind for any medicinal herb—it is a medicine. Long before drug manufacturers were able to synthesize medicines herbs were used as the basis of pharmaceutical medicines prescribed by doctors and came with directions as to the dose and frequency of use. Yarrow tea is a great tea and good for you but take care not to drink more than three cups in a day.
Yarrow also makes your garden healthy. It's considered an especially useful companion plant as it repels some insect pests while attracting good, predatory insects. It attracts predatory wasps, which drink the nectar and then uses insect pests as food for their larvae. It also attracts ladybugs and hoverflies.
Yarrow improves soil quality. The leaves are good fertilizer and a beneficial additive for compost. It is good for improving the health of sick plants when grown nearby.
Aside from being a beautiful addition to your garden to satisfy your artistic eye, Yarrow improves the health of human and plant life. Pretty good deal.
- What about you? Have you any Yarrow growing wild and pretty or cultivated near you?
- Ever drank Yarrow Tea?