We put a lot of research into the herbs we planted in our field, and while we trust that research, we haven’t personally experienced every benefit of every herb for ourselves. Yarrow aka Achillea millefolium was one such herb, until recently, that is.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t give yarrow much credit. Sure, it’s pretty enough, with its tall, feathery stalks, and cute, pink flowers (ours are pink but apparently they’re more often near white), but I thought it smelled funny, and didn’t seem particularly interesting.
Let me tell you just how WRONG I was. After researching it myself (admittedly my mom, Dr. Diane did all the research before), I learned that yarrow has a bunch of cool nicknames, including Soldier’s Woundwort, Old Man’s Pepper, Herbal Militaris, Nosebleed, Devil’s Nettle, and Thousand Leaf. Each name has its own unique story of course, but I’ll try to keep things short.
Even its latin name has a cool story behind it. Supposedly, Achilles had a strong affinity for yarrow, after being shown its many uses by Chiron the Centaur. He supposedly used yarrow on wounded soldiers on the battlefield to staunch bleeding, and help heal the wounds quickly. Even if he didn’t, Spartan warrior use of the herb is indeed documented, which is pretty neat.
Probably the neatest thing about yarrow is its ability to control bloodflow. While it’s mostly known for stopping bleeding, as written in the history books, and thus the name “Nosebleed”, it can also improve circulation and bloodflow, including helping to heal bruises and reduce inflammation. Yarrow is even suggested to reduce varicose veins, as it disperses the blood congestion and tones the walls of the veins. Indeed, it is also said to help with menstrual cramps and painful periods – more on that later.
There are even more wonderful things about yarrow, like how its antispasmodic properties aid the gut in digestion, and how it can normalize the acid production in your gut, but I’ll leave that stuff for you to research on your own so I can finally get to the point of my story.
A few weeks ago, I got whacked in the face by a horse. It was an accident, but it sucked, and resulted in 3 stitches along my eyebrow, as well as a very sore and swollen brow bone. The even more unfortunate part was that I had to leave for a wedding in Nova Scotia the next day. Had I not been traveling, I would have immediately tried our herbal products, but polysporin, tylenol and advil were the name of the game until I came back.
By day 5, about 50% of the swelling had subsided, but the bruising was moving down from my browbone, to all around my eye. As you can see in the pictures, it was all colours of the rainbow; red, yellow, blue, purple, probably a little green in there if you look close enough haha. I’ve had a black eye before, and the last time it lasted almost 3 weeks, going very, very dark under my eye for a while.
Monday morning after my trip, my mom gave me some calendula oil for the stitches, and yarrow hydrosol for the bruising, and I will admit to thinking “what the heck can rubbing what basically looks like water all over my eye really do?” The answer is, apparently, a lot.
I applied the calendula to the wound and yarrow hydrosol around my eye three times a day for four days, and I was shocked by the results. By Friday, no one could see the bruising unless I closed my eyelid to show them what little was left of it. Now, I’ve been putting both yarrow and and then calendula oil on what is left of the wound, and it’s coming along nicely. Yarrow also has analgesic effects, so that’s an added bonus!
So then today, I started getting my monthly cramps and was about to get pretty cranky about it. Then I thought “heck, if yarrow actually does what it says on the outside of my body… maybe it works on the inside too.” So I mixed half a dropper of yarrow hydrosol with a glass of water, drank it, and I swear I haven’t had cramps for the rest of the day. No advil needed here!
I must say, I’m pretty impressed by this handy little herb. I had some yarrow hanging to dry in my apartment, so I’ve now stripped it so I can make tea over the winter. It’s mixed it with some goldenrod which will help with congestion and flu-fighting. I’ve got a new crush, and its name is Yarrow.