9.3.13

Achillea millefolium - YARROW

Names:

Common yarrow, gordaldo, nosebleed plant, old man's pepper, devil's nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier's woundwort (it was used to stop bleeding in battle but also in common life), thousand-leaf, thousand-seal. 

Planting:

Even though it can grow anywhere and anytime, it is usually planted at the beginning or spring or autumn (that is at the crossing of seasons) when the temperatures are between 18 and 25°C.

Environment:

Meadows, grasslands, open forests, bushes, cultivated land, banks....basically anywhere; from the lowest to the highest parts of land (it is obviously a very enduring plant). Just a little warning: it grows by dividing its roots and it grows rapidly ("self-insemination"). Because of this, it is recommended that you fence it up so it doesn't start growing all over the place (this is why I keep mine in a pot). 

Interesting Facts:

This is one of the eldest medicinal herbs known to man. This can be concluded thanks to the notes taken by the Greek physician Dioscorides who mentioned yarrow to be a good herb to stop bleeding or to better the healing of a wound.

There is also a myth regarding Achilles and this plant. Supposedly, when Achilles was wounded in his heel during the Trojan War, he went to the goddess Aphrodite to heal him. She washed his wound in yarrow but, despite this, he died. The plant got its name (Achillea) in praise of this hero and became famous as an escort of the wounded. Also, Acheilles was supposed to have healed his soldiers' wounds with this plant (and quite successfully if we are to believe the stories).

In the Middle Ages, it was believed that yarrow was a witch's herb (hehe). The cultivation of this herb was thought to bring love, happiness and clear vision.
It was believed that:
...putting this herb under your pillow at night cause one to have prophetic dreams.
...putting yarrow leaves on yours eyes cause you to see your future true love.

Even the Druids used yarrow in their rituals. They made amulets from it or would strew it across a threshold to keep out evil spirits (or anything evil, actually). Some even wore it around there neck as an amulet to protect themselves from hexes.

Before hop started to be used, yarrow was used to spice beers and is still used to this day to flavor vermouth and bitters. 

In China, the stems of this plant were used for divination (precisely, in I Ching which is now performed using coins but used to be performed with stems).

Attributes:

Antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory)
Antispasmodic (helps relieve cramps and spasms)
Choleretic (helps stimulate the production by the liver)
Bactericidal (prevents infections)
Astringent (draws together/constricts tissue)

Uses:

Yarrow is most commonly used in teas to aid stomach and intestinal pains, pain in the gallbladder and urinary bladder but also to help with heart and vein problems. It is less commonly used in gynecology. If you have a garden, it is worth noting that this is a plant that can really help better the quality of the herbs which surround it and, in the process, intensify their taste as well. Like nettle, it betters the building up of compost.

For the Drug:

The upper parts of the blossoming scion are best picked from June to September. They are cut using a knife to avoiding plucking out the entire plant. The leaves can be gathered all the way until autumn. When yarrow is dry, it has an aromatic smell and a bitter taste, but it can also be used as a fresh herb.

It Is Used for:

Dyspepsia (indigestion)
Emission of saliva, gastric juices and bile
A small appetite (to better it)
Convulsions of the stomach and intestines
"Female" cramps (menstrual pains, PMS - it is used in the form of a bath)
Urine (sometimes used as a diuretic)
High blood pressure
Recovering after the flu and other heavier diseases (best used in a tonic sweetened with a bit of honey)
Pains caused by rheumatism and gout
In depth cleaning of the blood
Cracked hands
Psoriasis
Diabetes
Rushes of blood to the head (dizziness, depression etc.)
Stopping nosebleeds

Preparations:

Tea:

1-2 teaspoons of the drug (2-5g) for 2-3dcl of water
It is drunk 3-4 times a day during meals.
Can be used for compresses and for cleaning wounds which are healing slowly.
Note: the whole plant can be ground, but you have to wait for it to dry completely (including the stem).

Tea Mixture:

30g yarrow greens
20g sticklewort greens
20g barberry bark
20g white horehound greens
10g common sweet flag rhizome

This mixture affects the liver, stomach, intestines and blood circulation.
The tea is made of two teaspoons of the above mixture or dried herbs (drugs). It is drunk three times a day half an hour before meals.
It can also be drunk for irregular menstruation. If this is the case, it can be drunk 3-4 times a day two days before the period is expected.

Sedentary Bath:

100g fresh herb / dried herb in 1l (liter) of water
It should sit (covered!) for 20 minutes and then be added to the bath.

Fresh Juice:

Two handfuls of the fresh herb is washed over with 100ml of water and ground well in an electric mixer.
One spoonful of filtered juice is taken four times a day, each day with meals.

Compresses:

Can be cold or warm and are put directly onto the wound. Warm compresses are made using tea and cold ones out of the juice of the herb.

Fresh Plant:

Yarrow itself can be squashed/ground and heated up and then placed directly onto the wound.

Oil:

100g dried yarrow leaves on 1l (liter) sunflower oil
Mix ingredients in a jar and cover the top with nylon foil. Put clean linen cloth at the bottom of a larger pot. Cover the jar with a clean fabric and place on the linen pieces of cloth. Pour in water until it reaches the top of the jar and heat up until water reaches a boil. Keep fire low and let this "cook" for three hours. When this time has passed, get the pot off the fire and let it all cool down. Filter the oil through gauze into smaller containers but make sure that they are opaque. Close the containers well, wrap in some sort of paper and leave in a cold and dry place.
This oil can be used when sunbathing or in case of hemorrhoids (in case of hemorrhoids, dip a clean piece of cloth in the oil and leave the cloth on the inflamed spot overnight).

Warnings:

Must not be taken by people with allergies to any member of the Asteraceae family. If used, this may lead to plant dermatitis with inflammatory skin changes. It is also not for pregnant women and wet nurses.

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