Today was the yarrow harvest!! Every year I always get so jazzed when I see those tiny yellow, red, pink, or white flowers emerging- although to be fair, I do get this excited about lots of other emerging plants this time of year (I am an herbalist after all). A generous friend allowed me to harvest a large patch in their yard. We gathered flowing tops and stalks separately. I will tincture the flowers and the leaves off the stalks I will dry for later use in salve and tea. We tasted as we went: bitter, sweet, earth-y salty, lemony, licorice-like, with a hint of mint. We were all smiles and a few burps and gurgles from our woken-up digestive tracts because of yarrows stimulating digestive qualities, which I will expand upon later in this post.
Yarrow is said to be the warrior's plant. It was historically used in battle because of its incredible ability to staunch bleeding, which makes it a friend of gardeners, parents, and warriors alike. The leaves are traditionally used as a poultice (fresh or dried plant material applied directly to the wound) and taken as a tincture to stop internal bleeding. Yarrow also has anti-microbial properties.
The story goes that Achilles' mother Hera dipped him in a tea of yarrow whilst holding his heal; hence his lack of super powers in that one pesky little spot. She should have dunked him from both ends.
When I first learned of this plant its energetics were described to me as a “shield” from other people’s bad energy. Now, for the non-hippy woo woo-er’s out there I am talking about the all-too-pervasive bad mood or heavy event that leaves you feeling heavy by being in the presence of someone experiencing it. Yarrow might be used to help you deflect your significant other’s bad mood or to “protect” your emotional energy from a friend that is particularly draining. But all of this defensive language while describing yarrow has me battle fatigued- because, well, I don’t want to be on the defense all the time nor do I think that I am constantly under psychic attack and need an all encompassing steel shield to make my way through the day. Yes, sometimes clients' or friends' moods rub off on me but I don’t want to constantly be ready and waiting for an energetic ambush. So, as I pondered this and continued to explore yarrow I began to see that it made me feel more myself, more powerful, and more vibrant, and as such less worried about other people’s harmful emotions. I now feel that Yarrow may be more of an inhibitor of a bright and sunny outlook, which will inevitably keep one from feeling drained by others' less-than-sunny moods.
The flowers of yarrow are a strong diaphoretic (induce sweating) and febrifuge (reduce fever) and are utilized as a warm tea. It is particularly useful for stagnation of the blood as a tincture or salve for bruises and wounds.
So, if someone has a rapid pulse that indicates heat or a bluish tint to their skin, especially in their lower limbs, yarrow helps to stimulate better circulation and decrease the pooling of blood. If the tongue has a bluish or purple red tint then I would also recommend yarrow, as it helps to lower blood pressure through vasodilation and tightens and tones venous tissue. All of this along with anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties can be attributed to its flavonoid content.
Not only is yarrow good for the blood and circulatory system, but because of the bitter taste it is also incredibly useful for the digestive system. Bitter things tighten and tone the digestive system and stimulate bile (cholagogue). Yarrow as a cold tea is specifically indicated for the digestive system and it is useful in conditions where blood might be found in the digestive system, such as Crohn's Disease, Colitis, IBS, and Ulcerative Colitis. Yarrow is also good for general conditions of the stomach, such as tummy aches and generalized sluggish digestion.
If you found this article useful but don't know where to begin, please consider a consultation- email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to learn more about herbal medicine please feel free to subscribe to my email newsletter or RSS feed, and/or share this article on social media.