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Want to meet my very good friend Yarrow?

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is so reliable, she’s always there when I need her, she’s supportive, not demanding and she’s so very giving.

Yarrow is my favourite herb, well, one of my favourites, along with chamomile and mugwort and a whole host of others.

Why do I love her so much? And what can she do for you?

Dorothy Hall (vale Dorothy) said of yarrow in her “Book of Herbs” pub Angus & Roberston 1972, “it seems to me to typify the silent strength possessed by herbs in the healing of so many ills, pulling the warmth of the sun and the welcome rain down into the soil to change by Nature’s alchemy into natural minerals and oils in the service of man, I stand beside my yarrow clump with a feeling almost of awe. The “sacred herb” of some of the earliest cultures of man, unchanged for thousands of years, grows in my garden with the same properties now as it had then.”

And I echo her thoughts and feelings.

Mythology has it that Chiron the Centaur used yarrow to heel the ankle wound of Achilles (hence its botanical name Achillea). It’s been used by many races; Roman soldiers carried it into battle to heal their wounds and in days long gone it was known as “the Soldiers’ Herb” or “Wound-wort” as its fresh or dried powdered leaves were packed into wounds to reduce the bleeding and swelling around wounds and to allow the surrounding tissue to heal. We know it was also used by Native Americans, the Teton Dakota’s called it , tao-pi pezu’ta, which means ‘medicine for the wounded”.

I have yarrow growing in my front garden and I have bottles of its extract in my herbal dispensary. At home I have made use of its amazing capacity to staunch bleeding for various accidents that have occurred, using either the fresh leaves, or more often, the extract.

In my clinic I often mix the extract into medicines for my patients. I use it to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding, to tone weakened mucous membranes of the gastro intestinal tract. But most of all I use it as an emotionally strengthening agent for people who need a metaphorical staff to lean on – single mums who are exhausted juggling their various loads, people who are spreading themselves thin trying to keep up with many different demands.

The signs in iridology that tell me it’s needed are when I see that the patient’s nervous system is frayed and worn thin, they have no or very little reserves left to run on.

As a flower essence yarrow is used in a similar way. It’s used to stem bleeding on a subtle level rather than a physical one. It’s for those people who are easily wounded by negativity in their surroundings. Yarrow essence helps to seal and protect the aura in the same way that the herb helps seal and protect the tissues of the physical body.

So, you may well ask, all very interesting but how can I use yarrow at home?

Yarrow as a tea will help staunch a nose bleed that won’t stop. If you’re coming down with a cold, a cup of hot yarrow tea taken before going to bed, can break a stubborn cold. If drunk very hot, yarrow tea can bring down a fever.

For those of us who keep a compost bin, yarrow, like comfrey, is a great activator. It can halve the time taken for a bin of decomposing vegetation to break down and it only needs one or two of the tiny leaves to do this.

Plant some in your garden and enjoy the protection she gives you and your family.

Please note: this blog contains advice of a general nature and does not take the place of a proper consultation with a fully trained herbalist.

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