Achillea millefolium- Or otherwise known as Yarrow is an umbel shaped flowering plant that is an essential herb for the home apothecary. Here you will learn how to understand it's compounds and benefits, identify, harvest and use yarrow.
I am not a doctor, nor do I recommend herbs for ailments. The information provided is from research, and actual usage from us on our farm. Please use any herb at your own risk.
Yarrow can be grown in the garden, however there are many coloration varieties from purple, dusty pink to yellow. But only the white and yarrow is found in nature. The pinks and purples have been hybridized meaning the medicinal properties may be compromised. Interestingly yarrow (white or yellow) that is grown in the garden setting is found to have higher fat and saturated fatty acids, proteins, energy value, sugars and flavonoids, while wild yarrow has higher levels of carbohydrates, organic acids, unsaturated fatty acids, tocopherols (vitamin E) and phenolic acids (antioxidants).
When foraging for wild yarrow, you want to looks in fields, pastures, along roadways and in cities too. Yarrow is an umbel type flower and identifying this plant correctly is essential as there are some look alsikes out there. First thing to look for is the feathery leaves of the yarrow plant, they will look fern like. The flower head of yarrow can be mistaken for Queen Ann's Lace, however there is a distinct difference between the two. Queens Ann's Lace has a pinkish center to the overall umbel flower head. The petals of the flower are very small and the stem only produces a single umbel flower head, where as yarrow will have multiple umbel flower heads per one stem.
Whichever way you decide to acquire yarrow, always pick in the morning right after the morning dew has evaporated, doing this when the plants beneficial compounds are at there peak ensure the best herb for medicinal usage and storage in the apothecary.
The whole yarrow plant can be used and harvested. That means the leaves, stalks, flower heads and roots are all beneficial. That said as with most plants that are used for root harvest, and older root is more valuable. Growing yarrow in your garden will help ensure that you can obtain an older root growth 2 years and up are best. Hang yarrow upside down in a cool, dry location away from direct sun until the plant is crunchy when touched. I like to store flower heads and roots separate from the stalks and leaves.
Now for some of the benefits of yarrow.
Emmenagogue (stimulate blood flow)
Short and long term sedative and anti-anxiety (study)
As one can clearly see yarrow is not only a well researched medicinal herd it is a do all herb, lets break down some practical uses for yarrow.
As yarrow is antiseptic it can be used to treat wounds to help keep infections at bay, and as a preventative to infections. Making yarrow a great herb to add to wound ointments.
Yarrow has been used for centuries on the battle field, sprinkling yarrow onto a wound is shown to dull pain.