I will always have an affinity for yarrow because it was one of the first plants, I was able to successfully locate and identify in the wild. Some of you gifted plant peeps would say that is not a big deal because Yarrow can be seen grown about everywhere throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Before I started my studies in herbalism, I never gave this white flower growing in a ditch a second look but now, I appreciate this magnificent plant for all its benefits.
I remember when I first identified Yarrow in Alaska of all places. I try and travel to Alaska at least once a year in the summer to experience the Alaskan bush and mine for “my precious,” gold. This last visit was a much unique experience because I was six months into my first medicinal herbal wildcrafting and remedy course. I came somewhat prepared as I forgot to bring my field guides, but I was able to locate a general guide for the area and I still had my Materia Medica journal I started.
I have been reading and studying herbs, but there is something about venturing into the woods and finding them, especially in an “un-touched” area as the Alaskan Bush. The very first time I ever ventured there I was amazed with the Alpine tundra’s vegetation. Depending on the time of year, you can find so many types of mushrooms and low growing shrubs, and of course birch, spruce, and aspen trees. Along the rocky paths and fields, yarrow and fireweed are a plenty. Yarrow’s feathery leaves with the domed shaped cluster of white (or Pink) flowers are identifiable but the spicy antiseptic aroma (similar to sage) is another tell- tale sign of this hardy perennial. I know I had to be extra careful, because water and poison hemlock look similar and can be deadly.
Native Americans used tea made from common yarrow to relieve ear-, tooth-, and headaches; as an eyewash; to reduce swelling; and as a tonic or stimulant. During the Civil War, common yarrow was widely used to treat wounds and became known as "soldiers' woundwort." (Alexsoff) Yarrow has been known as a “wound healer” and has fever reducing properties. It’s known as a woman’s tonic because of the benefits it provides to post-partum recovery after childbirth. This is due to the uterine relaxant effects which makes it possible for this herb to ease menstrual cramps.
Yarrow Tincture extracts are a known bitter that increases salivation which helps with digestion. If you have issues with sluggish digestion, taking yarrow tincture with water before meals can help support proper digestion. Some people will even chew fresh yarrow leaf or root to relieve toothaches because it has salicylic acid, which is one of the active ingredients of aspirin.
Next summer I am anticipating more yarrow in my apothecary garden to take advantage of the roots. I was only able to tincture the leaf and flowers this season in a yarrow tincture and infused oil. There is a limited batch if this tincture so check it out!
Akkol, Esra Küpeli et al. “Evaluation of the Wound Healing Potential of Achillea biebersteinii Afan. (Asteraceae) by In Vivo Excision and Incision Models.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM vol. 2011 (2011): 474026. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep039
Aleksoff, Keith C. 1999. Achillea millefolium. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/achmil/all.html [2021, November 28].