Better late than never!
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is yet another extraordinary plant ally and arguably one of the most broadly useful in the medicinal sense. It can be found growing as a cultivated herb in the garden and as a roadside "weed", it's ability to thrive in challenging conditions no doubt contributing to the host of medicinal properties it contains!
Read on for more about this incredible herb!
Achillea millefolium is native to most of the Northern Hemisphere and once established in a spot will typically continue to grow year after year. "The leaves are alternate, 3-5 inches long, with many leaflets on each side of the midrib (1- pinnately lobed); and these are further divided into smaller leaflets, giving them a delicate, fernlike, lacy appearance. Flower heads are arranged in large, compact clusters at the top of the stem, each cluster consisting of 1 or more flower heads. The flower head has 20-25... ray flowers and similarly colored disk flowers."* Though the Common White Yarrow is the true native variety, we now see Achillea blooming in a rainbow of colors from deep orange-reds to pale lilac. This wonderful plant can be somewhat invasive so be aware if you have some on your property. It's medicinal actions include: Anti-hemorrhagic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, astringent carminative, diaphoretic, hemostatic, hypotensive, peripheral vasodilator, bitter tonic, hepatic, choleretic, emmenagogue, diuretic, vulnerary, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic.
Method and Dosage:
How: tea, tincture, infused oil, topical salve/cream, poultice, fomentation, extract/succus
Tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 to 2 teaspoons of flowers and infuse for 10 to 15 minutes.
Tincture: 1 to 4 ml, three times a day depending on the condition.
Oil: Apply topically as needed. See recipe for homemade yarrow oil below.
Topically: Yarrow's excellent anti-inflammatory, astringent and styptic qualities make it quite useful for topical applications. For minor wounds and bleeding, a poultice of the fresh leaf can be applied to the affected area. It makes a very effective toner for oily hair and skin as well.
Basic Yarrow Oil
Very effective on its own or you can blend with another medicinal infused oil (like calendula or meadowsweet to amplify its healing properties!
Work with the cycles of the sun and moon to enhance your oils energetic potency!
- Place desired amount of yarrow aerials in a clean, dry glass jar (mason, kerr or ball jars work nicely. Pour enough olive oil so the bulk of the yarrow tops are covered by about 1 inch of oil.
- Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid (you can place wax paper between the jar and the lid for a tighter fit if needed) and give it a good shake. Place the jar near a warm sunny window to infuse. Give the jar a good shake when you walk by it every day. Some medicine makers prefer to place the jar in a paper bag in the windowsill as they feel it helps preserve the chemical constituents from UV light....this is a perfectly fine option to go with if you choose.
- It should take about 4-6 weeks to reach full strength. Open occasionally to smell your oil to make sure there is no molding or rancidity. Strain out the herbs using cheesecloth/muslin and pour the oil in a clean, glass jar. Store in a cool, dark cabinet until needed.
Double-Boiler/Crock Pot Method
- Place desired amount of yarrow in a clean, dry glass jar (mason, kerr or ball jars work nicely. Pour enough olive oil so the bulk of the yarrow is covered by about 1 inch of oil.
- Cover the jar with a tight fitting lid (you can place wax paper between the jar and the lid for a tighter fit if needed) and give it a good shake.
- If you have a double-boiler, use that in place of the crock pot. Otherwise, place a kitchen towel in the bottom of your crockpot and place your jar inside. Add enough water to the crock pot to cover about half the jar and set to the lowest setting for 2-6 hours. Check frequently.
- Strain out the oil using cheesecloth/muslin and pour the oil in a clean, glass jar. Store in a cool, dark cabinet until needed.
Bugs At Bay Floor Cleanser
Back in the long, long ago, folks used to mix bug-repellent herbs with the rushes they placed on their floors. Think of this mopping tea as the modern day version!
Equal parts Yarrow, California Bay Leaf and/or Rosemary leaves
*Fresh or Dried is fine
1 quart water
Essentially, you are making a very strong tea of your herbs and using it to mop your clean floors. Allow floors to dry and enjoy you bug-free home!
Penne Aglio Olio with Yarrow:
by Alan Bergo, The Forager Chef
- 8 oz dried penne, finest quality available
- 4 tbsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper, or more depending on how much you like spicy food
- a large handful of fresh yarrow, leaves picked from the stem and chopped to yield 2 tsp
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 4 anchovy filets in oil, rinsed and chopped (optional)
- Parmesan for serving (optional)
- Make a pile of the yarrow and crushed red pepper flakes, then mince them together finely.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and season it with salt until the water tastes like the sea. Add the penne and cook until al dente, the time of which may vary depending on the brand of pasta you use. High quality Italian dried pasta will take longer to cook than something like Creamette.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the garlic in the pan with the oils and chopped anchovy on low heat until the garlic is fragrant and lightly browned. Do not allow the garlic to burn. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl it for a minute to cool the pan so that the wine doesn’t explode grease all over your face. Add the wine to the pan.
- When the pasta is done, drain and add to the pan. Toss the pasta to coat with the oil and cook for a minute to evaporate any raw wine flavor.
- To finish the dish, add the yarrow-chilli mixture and toss just to heat through. Transfer the pasta to each of 4 bowls, garnish with some parmesan and an extra drizzle of extra virgin oil if desired, then serve immediately with a big green salad.