Yarrow Uses
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: No Name Given
Posted on: March 6, 1999

What is the herb yarrow used for?

Yarrow is a fascinating herb with many uses. We think that this herb ought to be appreciated and used more.

Yarrow is a hardy perennial found growing throughout the temperate regions of the world. Typically it is found growing in meadows, along roads and embankments, along railroad tracks, and other areas. It prefers sun, but it will tolerate partial shade, and it can grow in most soils from clay to sand. The common "milfoil" variety, Achillea millifolium, has attractive many-divided leaves and white flowers arranged in flat corymbs 5-10 cm across.

Medicinally, yarrow has many properties and many uses. Here is what John Lust says in his "The Herb Book" (available from Richters):

"Antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, hemostatic, tonic. Milfoil tea has a long history of use for lack of appetite, stomach cramps, flatulence, gastritis, enteritis, gallbladder and liver problems, and internal hemorrhage, particularly in the lungs. It appears to be especially effective in stimulating the flow of bile. Fresh milfoil juice acts as a general tonic and prophylactic by building up the blood. At the same time, it is good for various forms of internal bleeding, as evidenced by nosebleed, coughing or spitting blood, rectal or hemorrhoidal bleeding, bloody urine, and excessive menstrual flow. It can also be taken internally or used as a douche for leucorrhea. The decoction makes a good wash for all kinds of wounds and sores, for chapped hands, and (as may be needed) for sore nipples. CAUTION: Extended use of milfoil may make the skin sensitive to light."

Yarrow is considered a general fortifier of the body, helping to build up the body’s natural resistance to disease. It is useful for combatting colds, fevers and flu. It is also valuable for treating wounds, and is excellent for cosmetics and for beautifying the skin.

In addition, yarrow, especially the Achillea millifolium species, is a valuable forage plant for livestock. In Europe, yarrow is commonly seeded out in pasture lands. It makes a very good forage crop because it requires little care and is very hardy.

Yarrow is also a very good herb for turf. The finely divided leaves are both attractive and pleasant to the touch, and we are starting to see adventuresome gardeners and landscapers using yarrow as a replacement for grass. It does not need to be cut as often; does not dry out and turn brown in the middle of summer; and can tolerant sun and partial shade very well.

And finally, yarrow shows promise as a potent mosquito repellent. A study in Scandinavia showed that alcoholic extracts of the herb were almost as effective in repelling mosquitoes as commercial DEET preparations.

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