YARROW (Achillea millefolium)
Parts commonly used: Leaf and flower.
Properties/energetics: Diaphoretic, diuretic, digestive bitter, carminative, astringent, anti-inflammatory, hemostatic, styptic, vulnerary, antiseptic, tonic/Warm; bitter, spicy.
Systems predominantly affected: Cardiovascular, digestive, genitourinary, skin.
Uses: Yarrow is one of our best diaphoretic herbs for helping the body deal with fevers and for tending to childhood fever diseases. The hot infusion raises the heat of the body, equalizes circulation, and produces perspiration. But this salient virtue is an aside to Yarrow’s usefulness as a tonic and first aid remedy. As such, Yarrow’s foremost uses are as an astringent, an anti-inflammatory, and an antispasmodic, as a diuretic agent for the genitourinary system, and as an astringent anti-inflammatory and bitter tonic in the gastrointestinal tract. Herbalists also use this plant for treating hypertension; this action is promoted by its vasodilating and diuretic properties, which decrease blood pressure and tone the blood vessels. Yarrow is high in volatile oils and therefore a reliable antiseptic for treating urinary system infections and mucous discharge from the bladder. Given as a cold infusion, it is helpful for stemming incontinence. It is a carminative, bitter, and astringent useful as an efficient stomach tonic and as an anti-inflammatory treatment for stomach ulcer. Taken as a warm tea, it can relieve menstrual cramping. Used historically as a uterine astringent and tonic to protect the uterus against atony, it is also a reliable male tonic to maintain prostatic and genitourinary tone and health. Powdered Yarrow used externally is an effective styptic and wound healer, especially combined with powered Horsetail. (Apply directly to a bleeding wound.)
Combinations: Combines well with Peppermint, Elder flower, and Ginger as a diaphoretic for treating colds, flu, fever, and common childhood fever diseases such as chicken pox and measles. (When feverish, drink this compound hot.) Use Yarrow as a simple or in the above-mentioned compound when fever is hot, dry, thrashy, and irritable. If the fever is hot and cranky, with muscle pain, combine with Boneset. If the upper body, head, and chest feel exceptionally hot, use with Pleurisy Root. For normalizing blood pressure, use with Hawthorn and Garlic. For cramping, use with Cramp Bark. As a digestive bitter for treating acute stomach ulcers, use with Chamomile. And with Buchu and Couch Grass, it is useful for treating chronic infection of the prostate and urinary tract. (Drink room-temperature tea.)
Affects on specific body types: This gentle, reliable remedy can be suitable for all constitutions in specific situations. As a general tonic, however, Yarrow is probably best suited for Warrior-type conditions. Its diuretic, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent urinary-tract tonic where there is a tendency for inflammation and irritation. And, finally, this plant can help normalize irritated and inflamed conditions of the digestive tract; its volatile oil contains anti-inflammatory constituents similar to those of Chamomile.
Preparations/dosage: White and pink Yarrow flowers are used medicinally; yellow flowers are ornamental. Infusion: 1 cup three times a day. Take as a hot tea hourly for feverish conditions; go to bed, put a hot water bottle to your feet, perspire, and fall off to sleep. This is one of our best medicines for treating feverish colds and flu. Tincture: 15 to 30 drops three times a day.
By James Green, Herbalist, copyright 2008
For more information please refer to James Green’s book, The Male Herbal, 2nd Edition