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The Materia Medica Of Yarrow

Names & Personality: Yarrow, like Venus, is a beautiful flower of many names. Also known as achillea, bloodwort, carpenter’s weed, devil’s nettle, nosebleed, old man’s pepper, staunch weed, thousand-leaf, woundwort, field hop, little feather, warrior plant, and Ya Luo (among other names). Among the flowering plants, yarrow is a strong and resilient one. She tolerates drought & commonly appears in inhospitable disturbed sites. Foliage, however, looks delicate and ferny. Her bloom time is long and flowers attract good bugs while repelling the bad.

Botanical Family: Asteraceae/Aster

Parts Used: Flowers, leaves, and root

Preparations: Teas, salves, tinctures, decoctions, beer, salad, and essence.

Harvest In: On a midsummer day in August if you are a witch. Otherwise, you may pick between June & September. Be sure to hang the bundle up in an upside down manner.

Home: Growing on all continents, except for the Artics. She is native to Europe, Asia, & Africa. There is controversy on whether she is in fact native to North America as well or if she is an immigrated plant. Found in open glad land, wastelands, & yards, she is content in most conditions.

Indications: You have a cut, wound, blood gushing, heavy periods, severe colds, fever. You have digestive issues & hemorrhoids or an involuntary bladder. Absence of period in women. Finally, if you are out of hops & jonsin’ a beer, you might need to harvest some good ole staunch weed.

Cultural Use & Folklore: Natives of the Americas also use(d) yarrow to stop bleeding in cuts and wounds and to soothe burns. In American ethnobotany, the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Mohegan tribes use yarrow as a digestive aid and to treat a variety of types and cases of swellings. The Ojibwa knew the plant as “squirrel’s tail” for the shape of the leaves that appear in spring before the flower stalk emerges and Natives sometimes used it to revive a patient from a coma due to its strong aroma.

According to ancient and ever present Chinese beliefs, yarrow is a magical plant that improves your vision, your intellect, & protects you from danger in the wild. It was also believed by the Chinese to balance yin and yang and facilitate the meeting of heaven and earth. In this time, the stalks were used for divining rods when it was necessary to find water or for proper Feng Shui positioning.

Yarrow is a timeworn wound healer and has many magical associations amongst many cultures. Greek soldiers believed their hero, Achilles, to have discovered its powers by way of his comrade Chiron. Others say his mother anointed him in a yarrow bath that would bless and protect him, covering all but his ankles. Later he would die from an arrow struck to his achilles, in a field with no yarrow in reach.

Medicinal Uses: I tend to think yarrow is a two spirited herb because on one occasion she is hot and the next she is cold. You see, she has both contradictory and complementary effects on the body; in particular regulating the flow of blood to and from the surface, and thinning and thickening the blood. The way she dances through the body amuses me. A nose bleed may be induced when inserted into the nostril, but aside from her mischief she can be quite the operator. From relieving headaches to waking folks out of comas with her aromatic essence. She has done wonders for the crown in her time, an ally to the nervous system with her antispasmodic properties.

Featured in the TKO Tea (hyperlink to tea) she helps soothe period pain by regulating blood flow and thickness. Women have long revered yarrow because of its ability to induce menstruation. When in a cold cup of tea she helps with digestion and elimination of ulcers, hemorrhoids, and UTI’s . But be careful with Ms. Bloodwort, if youse got a blood clot, she’s bound to make it worse being a natural blood coagulant and all.

Our relationship: I was in north Minneapolis when I first met her. I was walking down 44th near Penn. I cut my hand on the corner store door and had no cloth but my clothes. I remember learning about yarrow in class but all I could imagine was a silhouette filled with actions and few traits. There were many houses on the street with flower beds, and I saw a lot of white flowers so I googled verified. To my surprise, intuition had guided me straight to it. With it before me I chewed up its small ferny and feathery green leaves, white clustered flowers, and applied it to my cut. The bleeding stopped almost instantaneously.

Since then, I have made light liquor tinctures with her flowers, leaves, and stems. During the George Floyd protests (June 2020), I made dozens of warrior salves for my neighborhood ninjas. Gracing my tea blends; she tastes sweet, aromatic, and rich with a bitter and astringent finish.

Warning/Disclaimer: Consult with your doctor and an herbal professional before using herbs internally. It is important that you innerstand your body, the herb, and its effects on your body before using any herb. Pregnant & Nursing Mothers take precautions, not considered safe to ingest. Do not take it for an extended time, this is a short term treatment herb.


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