All About Yarrow: The Herb of the Month for January 2016
Yarrow is an incredible herb that offers benefits to many body systems and organs. It’s gentle enough to be used with children and is very easy to grow, too! Learn more about yarrow with this herbal monograph.
A few summers ago, I made the mistake of emptying an entire packet of yarrow seeds in a 4×3 foot garden plot near my house. I was working to establish a new herb garden and had read about yarrow’s many benefits, especially for the respiratory system during cold and flu season.
It didn’t take long for yarrow to show up. And show up. And continue to show up, bursting out of the boundaries of the garden bed and sprawling all over the surrounding yard.
Today I have more yarrow growing and spreading than I need, but really, I don’t mind. This plant has so many uses that I’m thrilled to have such an abundant supply growing in our yard!
Come learn more about this impressive herb and you might decide to scatter some yarrow seeds in your own yard soon.
Yarrow leaves and stems are a rich green color. The stems are tough and sturdy and will grow to about 30 inches. The leaves are about 4 inches long, deeply divided, and resemble ferns or even feathers. On top of the stems, from the middle of the summer until early in the fall, grow flat clusters of white or yellow flowers up to 4 inches in diameter.
The aerial parts of yarrow may all be used, including leaves, stems, and flowers, though it is common for purchased yarrow to include only flowers.
Actions in the Body
- Yarrow is a gentle antipyretic herb, meaning that it can help reduce a fever.
- It is a bitter herb, stimulating the digestive system and promoting a healthy appetite.
- It offers antimicrobial properties, making it a beneficial herb for times of sickness.
- Yarrow is a vulnerary herb, promoting the healing of wounds.
- As a hepatic herb, it helps to strengthen the liver.
Yarrow is often prepared as an herbal infusion with 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb steeped in 1 cup of freshly boiled water for about 15 minutes. This tea can be taken 3 times a day or more frequently for fevers.
For ease of dosing, it can also be prepared as a tincture or other extract at the ratio of one part dried herb to 5 parts liquid menstruum (or solvent), typically grain alcohol or glycerine for a non-alcoholic version. This tincture can then be taken with 15 drops per every 40 pounds of body weight three times a day.
Yarrow is a suitable herb to consider for healing salves intended for cut skin. The dried herb can be infused in warm oil for 3-4 hours, then strained. The resulting oil can then be thickened with beeswax to form an ointment or salve.
Yarrow should be used with caution or avoided for anyone with an allergy to the Asteraceae (daisy) family. Some sources also call for caution during pregnancy, but this is not uniform among herbal experts.
Were you familiar with any of yarrow’s many benefits?
Fritchey, Philip. Practical Herbalism. Whitman Publications, Warsaw, Indiana. 2004. (found here).
Hawkins, Jessie. Botanical Medicine in the Home. Vintage Remedies, Franklin, Tennessee. 2013. (found here).
Hoffman, David. Medicinal Herbalism. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont. 2003. (found here).
My two favorite sources for herbs that I don’t grow myself are Mountain Rose Herbs and Bulk Herb Store.
I am so excited to learn more about yarrow. We love it. My husband suffers from frequent sore throats some get to the point that his throat bleeds. We make a tea out of yarrow and mint and it cures it almost every time. Such an awesome herb and so easy to find. We pick a ton of it before winter hits and put it in the freezer. We were told freezing it instead of drying it preserves more of its benefits. Any thoughts on that?
Hi Abby! One of my sources says that when used as a urinary tract antiseptic, its more potent fresh. In most cases, for most herbs, dried herbs under a year old that have been stored away from heat and light will be very effective and offer many benefits. I suppose if you have room in your freezer and you know this works well for him, though, no reason to switch to dried!
And yes, yarrow is really incredible. One of my research papers for my Family Herbalist certification was on yarrow and I was absolutely stunned by the amount of research and solid evidence pointing to yarrow’s many benefits. It was fascinating!