Wow!  Where did May go?  I didn’t even get an Herb of the Month for May posted!  Well, spring marches on and so do the herbs.   This month’s Herb of the Month is Yarrow – maybe I can make up May’s Herb of the Month in January when I have more time 🙂

Yarrow is also known as “Woundwort” and has been used since Roman times to stop bleeding in wounds.  The Latin name, Achillea millefolium, comes from the story of Achilles, who is said to have treated his soldier’s wounds during the Trojan War with Yarrow.  “Millefolium” means “thousand leaves” and describes their feathery look.

Yarrow is one of the tinctures I keep in my “medicine bag.”  It is so versatile that it could very well be the ONE tincture I would take with me everywhere.  From insect repellent to immune stimulant to digestive aid, it can be a medicine chest in and of itself.


The tinctures I carry in my "medicine bag" or "first-aid kit"

The tinctures I carry in my “medicine bag” or “first-aid kit”

Susan Weed extols the virtues of Yarrow and specifies that the white variety makes the best medicine.  She tinctures the entire top third of the plant for six weeks in vodka (we do the same except use Everclear and R.O. water for three months.)

Yarrow is known as a wound healer.  We learned from Susan Weed that it also prevents infection, killing both staph and strep bacteria.  She uses it as a spray for a sore throat and to relieve the pain of a toothache (others mention chewing a fresh leaf for tooth pain.)  She says it can also be used as a spray on the face, neck and back to treat acne.

Yarrow is considered an antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory and is used to treat inflammation and pain in connective tissue.  It also increases circulation which increases its healing action.

Women can treat menstrual problems with Yarrow.  In large doses, it stimulates the uterus and should be avoided during pregnancy.  It is known as a menstrual system regulator and is used to bring on delayed menses.

The flowers are infused in a “tea” to ease upper respiratory phlegm and to treat a cold or the flu.  The flowers are also used in a steam for hay fever and mild asthma.

Besides Yarrow’s medicinal uses for humans, it is “medicinal” for other plants growing nearby.  Yarrow is thought to increase the flavor and fragrance of other plants.  If you compost, try adding a single, fresh leaf chopped into small pieces to your compost pile to speed up the decomposition time.

Yarrow is easy to grow and very hardy.  It is one of first perennials to “green up” in the spring and will produce a few lingering blooms in late October.

Late Yarrow blossom - October 24, 2012

Late Yarrow blossom – October 24, 2012