Letter Re: Using Wild Yarrow

The Wild Yarrow, Achillea Millefolium, also known as Milfoil, Soldiers woundwort, Nose Bleed Weed, Sanguinary, and Devil’s Nettle is a very useful medicinal herb.      

Growing Wild Yarrow: This plant makes a wonderful addendum to a domestic garden in the Spring. Although now cultivated and available everywhere in nurseries, there is still a quaint but practical feeling to include a wild species in a domestic garden for a feel of times past. Red and yellow varieties are used as ornamentals, but by far the most common variety is white. I think the colors are hybrids of the wild white species. Some cautions when planting, as Yarrow will creep through its root system and will drop seeds readily in late summer, thus becoming very prolific with time. All varieties of Yarrow have similar qualities medicinally. Choice of colors should be preferential. It is not commonly kept as a ‘Ground Cover’ and if it should get too thick, just thin it out. But Yarrow deserves a special place in everyone’s crisis/ survival garden. It’s a very special plant and should be treated like an old friend.

Yarrow is well known for its blood clotting properties (Hemostatic). It can be used when used fresh/crushed and applied as a direct poultice on a wound or laceration. It also promotes healing and new tissue growth of the damaged tissues (a Vulnerary). Yarrow is mildly antiseptic, even somewhat antibiotic by nature and can be applied directly to a wound. Herbalists in history have used Yarrow leaf rolled and inserted into the nostrils to stem bleeding from a nosebleed. Another herbalist claims when a rolled leaf of Milfoil (Yarrow) is placed in the nose it promotes bleeding to stem a severe headache and lower blood pressure. So it seems it has been used in history for both reasons. Yarrow is also an alternative blood cleanser, for example, it can be used if the initial wound was contaminated such as puncture wounds or lacerations. It may, in fact, prevent blood poisoning from a dirty laceration. Yarrow applied this way reduces pain and swelling, because it acts as an anti-inflammatory to the affected area. Yarrow is a good choice for veterinary first aid uses on animal injuries. Yarrow’s blood clotting ability is legendary throughout history. Native Americans, warriors and soldiers–dating back to the Greeks nearly 3,000 years ago–all have used Yarrow to stem blood loss from wounds and injury. Hence the name “soldier’s woundwort”. Crushed leaves in a tea can stop internal bleeding from ulcers, nasal passages, esophageal, bleeding hemorrhoids, etc.

Yarrow also contains a Digestive “Bitters” quality and is very helpful as a digestive aid, promoting bile flow and preventing Gall stones from re-occurring. It is also very soothing to the pancreas and endocrine system. It is useful in treating the common cold as it induces sweating by opening pores (diaphoresis), cleanses the blood and reduces fevers readily especially when aspirin is contraindicated or not available. Yarrow is considered a pretty safe plant and reportedly even used as a wild edible (survival food), but like anything else, take care when using it and monitor its results. When taken internally the active ingredient, Thujone Oil, produces a slight sedating and diuretic effect. Thujone relaxes smooth muscle in the body which helps prevent cramping (menstrual and abdominal). It is very healing to an inflamed liver (hepatitis and jaundice conditions) and can be used as an adjunct in liver, gall bladder tonics.

Yarrow is a good choice to include in your crisis garden next year. Its delicate presence it looks good as a backdrop growing amongst the other domestic low growing flowers. Yarrow is indispensable as a wilderness first aid plant in the wild. Know this plant, and know where to find it in the wild. – The TinMan