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Plant Profile: Yarrow

Plant Profile- Yarrow, Achillea millefolium

From ancient battle fields to the mystics of China and witches of Europe, yarrow has been revered for it’s magical and healing influences across time and continents. Yarrow is a particularly resilient plant, finding herself rooted in rocky outcrops at sea level to steep and dry scree fields at high alpine and places in between. I cannot think of another plant that has such a wide and diverse ability to adapt and thrive in such different environments. It speaks to an intrinsic understanding of adaptability and what it means to create a home to root ourselves in throughout different terrains. Though the foundational constituents that make up the medicine of yarrow virtually stay the same, the medicine of the yarrow growing by the sea is different then the medicine of the yarrow growing at high alpine in both the quality of constituents it is harboring as well as it’s energetic influence. Environmental stress brings out different constituents within a plant as concentrations of volatile oils and various secondary metabolites are coerced by a necessity to adapt under certain stresses. This process makes the plant more resilient and medicinal then the same plant that has been growing in more pampered environments.

Garden Care & Harvest: Yarrow thrives in well draining, rocky and poor soils. It is one of those plants that finds the means to thrive in diverse environments but is typically more at home in sites that would be stressing to other plants and indeed develops more potent medicinal actions in these environments. Once established, yarrow thrives on neglect. The yarrow plant is extremely drought tolerant and it’s abundant foliage acts as a living mulch to protect it’s root systems from the high impact of full sun. It’s lovely growth of lush green foliage and abundant and pretty white flowers provides a pleasing visual addition to any garden scape. Harvest of leaves can be done at any time when they are vivacious, flowers should be harvested in full to be used fresh or dry in a cool, well ventilated area.

Parts Used: Ariel parts, in flower

Planetary Ruler: Venus

Element: Water (cool preparations) Fire (hot preparations)

Preparations: Infused oil, salve, dried/ fresh tea, poultice, compress, tincture, yoni steam.

Physical Medicine: Yarrow has a profound influence on the blood and it’s ability to flow unobstructed throughout the body. Draining, moving and clearing in nature, it is considered a prime remedy for wound care, conditions of stagnation in blood, high blood pressure, internal/ external hemorrhaging and the menses. The temperature in which you imbibe this herb along with the areal parts used, transforms the way in which this herb interacts with the body through it’s affinities for different systems.

As yarrow aids in moving blood through vasodilation and toning of the blood vessels, she is a valuable remedy for reducing high blood pressure, edema and promoting flow in circulatory disorders. As she works on moving blood and releasing heat, yarrow becomes a remedy for damp rheumatic and arthritic complaints which have a strong root in stagnancy of blood flow. It’s toning quality to muscle and blood vessels make it a valuable herb to turn to in cases of varicose veins to reinstate much needed structure into the capillaries. Yarrow is a valuable first aid plant to know as it’s ability to quickly staunch wounds and arrest internal and external bleeding is profound. The leaves of this plant are typically used for this purpose as a vulnerary and should also be called upon for bruises, sprains and general joint pain. External preparations of a poultices, compress and infused oil are particularly helpful for topical applications, where as internally a tea or tincture preparation would be most useful.

Women find a sincere ally in Yarrow no matter what stage of life that she finds herself in. From the years of menstruation to menopause she exerts her influence upon the uterus and womb with grace and harmonious movement. The amphoteric nature of yarrow enables her to exert both a sedating and stimulating effect on the uterus and is a valuable herb to turn to when uterine congestion and hormonal imbalances are apparent. For the menopausal women, yarrow is particularly helpful when addressing night sweats and the overall physical and spiritual transformations that occurs within this potent cycle of a women's life. For the menstruating and child bearing women, Yarrow has long been used to prevent excess bleeding during the menstrual cycle and child birth as well as stimulating delayed or absent menstrual cycles. Its anti-inflammatory and anti spasmodic properties make it a valuable herb to ease menstrual cramps and uterine tension and instate regular ease and flow within the waxing and waning of the cycles.

Yarrow flowers can be utilized when one is under the influence of colds, flus and fevers. It’s warming diaphoretic and blood moving qualities aids in breaking fevers and respiratory complaints while it’s soothing influence as an antispasmodic eases the effects of tension and rigidity that accompanies states of fever. Paring yarrow with elder flower and peppermint is a classic and useful formulation through a hot infusion during these times to soothe and support the body.

Taken as a cold tea beverage yarrow’s focus changes to decisive support for the digestion system. As a bitter tonic, this cooling beverage primes the digestive organs to ease digestive upset and promote long term digestive health. Yarrow as a bitter strengthens the digestive system through it’s foundational support of the liver and gallbladder and there ability to produce and regulate essential digestive functions and excretion of metabolic waste. Taken tonically and in acute situations of digestive disorders, yarrow tones the mucosal lining of the digestive system and provides long term support in cases of IBS and chronic diarrhea.

Spiritual Medicine: Symbolically speaking, we can turn to Yarrow to find her resilience and adaptability within ourselves. The different environments we root ourselves in bring out different attributes of strength and medicine through the struggle and nourishment that particular terrains provide.Yarrow eases us into this state through greater connection with our environment and to our own inner strength as she welcomes us back home into our most resilient selves to bring out what is necessary to allow us to not only adapt, but to thrive in socio and environmental circumstances. An ally for those that tend to run towards hot headed thinking and emotions and are prone to overworking themselves to the point of utter exhaustion and burnout, she cools us down to help us find the balance in action and rest. From this place, we can birth our most passionate and heartfelt inklings into the world in a potent and harmonious way.

Yarrow is a humble and unassuming plant, inviting her into our garden and home apothecary is a rewarding and potent way to connect with her medicine and spirit to bring healing and wholeness into our lives. May this portal help you connect a little deeper with this lovely plant and open new pathways to experience her medicine first hand.

in connecting with yarrow,


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