The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Plant Profile: Yarrow

Botanical Name:
Achillea millefolium, A. lanulosa 
There is an ongoing discussion whether these species are the same.
A. millefolium is more commonly used.
Named after Achilles the warrior, the plant has a long tradition of stopping external bleeding.
Millefolium refer to the alternate leafed ‘thousand leaves’ of the foliage.
Blooms from May through September in the American Southwest.
Sedona Herbal medicine

Common Names:
Yarrow, Woundwort, Plumajillo

Southwest Habitat:
5,000’ – 8,000’ in forest, meadow and riparian habitats. Resilient to many types of soil and climate, widespread and abundant

Energy & Tastes:
Yarrow is primarily bitter with some astringency.
Its volatile oil content gives it a diffusive effect
It is cooling and drying

The flower has sesquiterpenes
The leaves are higher in tannins

Preferred Method of Preparation:
Topically as a fresh poultice, wash or salve
Internally as a tea or tincture

Herbal Actions:
Relaxing diaphoretic
Digestive Bitter
Circulatory Stimulant

Therapeutic Uses:
Achillea is known as a polycrest herb – a plant that has many therapeutic uses. This makes the plant extremely useful but also challenging to truly ‘know’ it.

-First Aid – used as a fresh poultice, Yarrow stops bleeding and helps prevent infection from cuts, scrapes, wounds and nosebleeds. The poultice is also useful to stop itching from bug bites and poison ivy.

-Internal bleeding – the tea or tincture is taken internally to stop internal bleeding, especially an excess or prolonged menstrual flow or post partum bleeding. It is best used 1:1 with a fresh tincture of Shepherd’s Purse for this purpose. This should not be used in emergency-911-ER type bleeding.

-Digestive Bitter – although not my first choice for this category, yarrow’s bitter flavor works in a formula to stimulate the digestive system

-Drink as hot tea for a relaxing diaphoretic. Combined with peppermint leaves and elder flower, this infusion promotes a healthy fever response. A classic herb triplet for fevers.

-Improves Circulation – yarrow has a relaxing effect on the blood vessels. This allows more blood to flow to the surface, thus its use as a diaphoretic. The relaxing of the vessels also gives this plant its potential  to lower blood pressure. The vaso-dilation allows blood to flow more freely, improving overall circulation and benefiting varicose veins.

-Bladder infection – it is useful in a formula for bladder infections as it is astringent, mildly antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and diuretic (if drunk as a cold tea)

-Anti-inflammatory – the soothing, cooling and healing actions of the sesquiterpene compounds in the volatile oil works to reduce inflammation both topically and internally.

-Yarrow is a diuretic if drunk as a cold or cool infusion

Herbal Combos:
Use w/fresh tincture of Capsella bursa-pastoris for internal bleeding
Use w/peppermint leaves and elder flowers for a relaxing diaphoretic effect with fevers
Use w/hawthorn as a cardiovascular tonic

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although the Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.


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