Herb Profile: Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)
A naturalized perennial flower of the Aster family, this European native is a famous hit with pollinators and herbalists a like. The leaves and flowers are used, harvested from the top 6-8" of the stalk. Lacey leaves and tiny clusters of rayflowers. Some varieties have been domesticated to offer many colors, however we prefer the wild white for medicine! Our evolutionary history with this plant predates Homo sapiens - pollen of yarrow has been found in abundance in a cave previously inhabited by Neanderthals from over 60,000 years ago.
Yarrow is decidedly not a food plant, considering its strong bitter and astringent taste. It is used the world over as a first aid plant because of its antiseptic and styptic nature - it stops bleeding and kills germs, that is. It contains a volatile oil called azulene, as well as other compounds that have been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Yarrow is used either fresh or dried. Store dried yarrow in a paper bag or other container out of direct sunlight.
My favorite way to use yarrow is to tincture it. A tincture is an alcohol-based extract of an herb. I use the tincture with baking soda to brush my teeth, as an astringent pore-minimizing and acne reducing wash for my face, or on minor cuts. You can also boil the herb in water and steam your face over it to even face tone and invigorate the senses. Bonus points if you take what's left over, strain it, and add it to the bath for a full-body tonifying soak.
Rodale's Encyclopedia of Herbs
The Gift of Healing Herbs by Robin Rose Bennet
The Magic and Medicine of Plants - Reader's Digest
Our own experience!