Ready to learn something new about yarrow?
It's one of our favorite herbs and for good reason. Let's talk about a few of its incredible uses.
What Is Yarrow?
Yarrow (or Achillea millefolium) is a perennial herb with finely divided, feathery leaves. Its flowering tops are umbellate shaped, five-petaled, and have yellow stamens clustered in a long stalk.
It is classified into the same family as dandelions, sunflowers, marigolds, and daisies.
Although native to Western Asia and Europe, yarrow’s increasing use in herbal medicine has made it widespread in most mild to warm regions.
Which Parts of Yarrow Are Used?
One of the fascinating things about yarrow is that all of its parts are useful. The entire plant has therapeutic benefits, and each of its components plays specific roles when used as an herbal remedy.
For instance, the flower, gathered when fully open and not turning brown or yellowish, is the most commonly used part of the plant. The flowers contain a higher level of aromatic oils whose uses we’ll discuss shortly.
The leaves, on the other hand, have a higher concentration of tannins. Conveniently, these leaves can be harvested at any time of the year, though anecdotal evidence suggests that the leaves' potency is higher during spring and early summer.
Yarrow root also has crucial medicinal value. It contains compounds that primarily work to alleviate pain. The roots are best harvested in the fall and is a go-to herbal remedy for toothaches.
Our Top 6 Favorite Ways To Use Yarrow
Since each part of the plant works a little differently, yarrow can help manage several different wellness issues.
Here are our personal favorite yarrow uses.
Yarrow Benefits for Skin
There’s evidence that yarrow can induce skin regeneration where old skin is replaced by new skin. With that in mind, we feel the skin benefits of yarrow have been unfairly underestimated.
Even though research has been done on this feature as widely as its other benefits, you rarely see yarrow mentioned among the best skincare herbs, and that’s a shame.
In a study entitled Surface rejuvenating effect of Achillea millefolium extract, they performed clinical trials on 83 women and found that topical application of 2% yarrow extract cream (twice daily) significantly improved overall skin appearance, enhanced the renewal of the skin, and reduced pores and wrinkles.
In another 2017 study that involved 23 participants with skin irritation, they applied dissolved yarrow extract in sunflower and olive oil to irritated skin twice daily for 7 days.
The formulation worked well to moisturize skin, restore its pH status to normal, and reduce any associated redness. Note that this study used yarrow extract and not essential oil made from yarrow.
Yarrow Encourages Relaxation
Yarrow relaxes capillaries, which is one of the mechanisms by which it improves blood flow. By relaxing the blood vessels, yarrow also relaxes the skin. The overall effect is that it encourages the movement of blood vessels closer to the skin.
This phenomenon encourages sweating because the closer the blood vessels are to the skin, the more heat is lost to the environment. In this way, yarrow produces a chain reaction that ends in lowering body temperature and thereby encouraging relaxation.
Yarrow Can Improve Digestion
Perhaps one of the reasons why yarrow is beneficial for digestion is due to its high choline content. Choline is what the body uses to make acetylcholine - the primary neurotransmitter for the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion.
Therefore, yarrow drives cholinergic activity in the body. One of the cholinergic activities is to boost digestion and increase the assimilation of digested nutrients into the body through the blood vessels that line the gut.
In a study involving mice, researchers found out that yarrow extract could increase the motility of the stomach and improve gastric emptying.
The extract was also noted to activate the muscles of the stomach.
Generally, the leading cause of indigestion is reduced gut motility. But since yarrow extract increases gut motility, it is one of the best herbs to treat and/or prevent indigestion.
There’s also evidence that yarrow improves bile flow in rats and makes it easier to digest fats.
Yarrow Speeds Up the Wound Healing Process
Studies have shown that yarrow can facilitate the healing of wounds, mucous membranes, and connective tissue. One clinical trial involved 100 women who had undergone an episiotomy – the surgical procedure that helps ease delivery in childbirth.
For these women, it was found that using an ointment of 5% yarrow applied twice daily for 10 days significantly improved the healing process and also alleviated the associated pain, swelling, and redness.
In most circumstances, the wound healing process is determined by the production of collagen and increased skin regeneration so that old and/or dead skin can be replaced by new skin.
In one study on rabbits, it was found that yarrow extract accelerated wound healing by increasing the production of collagen and skin regeneration.
Yarrow Boosts Blood Circulation
The benefits of yarrow for blood circulation have been utilized since antiquity, though the mechanism by which such benefits occurred was still not understood.
But with the advancement of science and research, studies have shown that yarrow extract activates platelets - or the structures in the blood that prevents blood loss when you suffer an injury.
Besides activating platelets, yarrow also works to break down clots. It acts as a natural blood thinner that can decongest veins and reverse the complications of sluggish blood flow.
Yarrow Can Help Relieve Stress and Improve Mood
Yarrow contains alkaloids and flavonoids that improve mood and alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. These flavonoids and alkaloids are present in significant amounts in yarrow tea.
In chronic stress, the body produces a lot of cortisol, which keeps you in a constant state of “fight or flight” - and as a result - a state of nervousness.
Studies have demonstrated that alkaloids in yarrow tea can reduce cortisol's secretion and help manage stress.
However, studies that support the claim that yarrow helps alleviate stress and improve mood have been done on rats. Nonetheless, frequent users of yarrow regularly report reduced stress levels.
Now that you know the many benefits and uses of yarrow, you might want to learn how to incorporate it into your weekly routine.
Here are some ideas...
How to Make Yarrow Tea
To make yarrow tea, you will need yarrow flowers or leaves:
- Boil water
- For every 1 cup of water, add two teaspoons of dried yarrow
- Let the mixture infuse for between 5 and 30 minutes (the longer you wait, the stronger it will be)
- Strain and enjoy while still warm
How to Make Yarrow Tincture
Making a yarrow tincture by yourself is relatively straightforward. You can do this by infusing dried or fresh yarrow leaves and flowers into alcohol.
- For every one part of chopped yarrow, mix with two parts of high proof alcohol.
- Alternatively, you can mix 1 part of dried yarrow with 5 parts of liquor such as vodka
- After mixing, cover and let the mixture infuse in a dark area for 2 to 8 weeks
- Shake the mixture every day
- Once sufficient time has elapsed, strain the mixture and store the product in dark glass bottles
Yarrow is a highly sought-after herb. It has several health benefits, and it's relatively easy to use. But just like every other product with therapeutic benefits, you should consult with a professional before use.
We personally love it for its digestive benefits. It can settle a sour stomach like few other herbs can. That’s why we use it in our Organic Digestive Blend. If you struggle with tummy troubles, hop over here and check it out.