Our 12th kickstarter is launching soon!
To get the earlybird goodies, click "notify me on launch" HERE.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • r ranson
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • paul wheaton
  • Greg Martin
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
gardeners:
  • Beau Davidson
  • thomas rubino
  • Edward Norton

Yarrow, the Original Soldier's Herb

 
pollinator
Posts: 707
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
234
food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2022/03/yarrow-original-soldiers-herb.html



Yarrow is one for the most storied herbs in history.  Perhaps the first legend most herbalists hear about Yarrow is that it was used by Achillies to treat soldiers wounded in battle.  This comes from the Iliad of Homer and is particularly interesting because recent scholarship has shown that Homer may have been a military physician, as well as a poet.  If so, that would lend a great deal of credibility to the use of Yarrow as being a “soldier’s herb” from very ancient, pre-literate times.  Regardless, the Latin name of Yarrow came to be Achillea millefolium, having been named for Achillies and identified by its “million segmented”, fringe-like leaves.


Dioscorides wrote of Yarrow as Stratiotes millefolius:


Stratiotes millefolius is a small little shrub twenty centimetres long (or more) with leaves similar to the feathers of a young bird, and the abnormal growths of the leaves are very short and jagged. The leaves are (most chiefly) similar in their shortness and roughness to wild cumin yet even shorter; and the tuft is thicker than this and fuller, for it has small shoots on the top on which are the tufts in the shape of dill; the flowers are small and white. It grows in somewhat rough fields and especially around the ways. This herb is excellent for an excessive discharge of blood, old and new ulcers, and for fistulas [ulcers].


Yarrow being so well known and widely used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, it found much use in the Monastic Medicine of the Middle ages and later in German Folk Medicine:  Saint Hildegard recommended yarrow applied to the eyelids for "vision darkened by tears." Yarrow is universally used by herbalists for wounds and bleeding. Saint Hildegard used it similarly and recognized its antiseptic properties for use against infected wounds. She recommended it used externally for external wounds and internally for internal bleeding. She also recommended it taken, infused in wine for fevers. Yarrow's use for staunching blood has been known since the time of the ancient Greeks, who told of it in the legend of Achilles as battlefield medicine. Saint

Hildegard's recommendation against fever shows her advanced knowledge of herbal medicine.  She also recommended Yarrow, combined with Dill, to stop nose bleeds.


Fr. Kneipp combined Yarrow with Saint John’s Wort and Linden for coughs and congestion.  His protege, “Brother Aloysius recommended Yarrow for weakness and mucus in the digestive organs, for lung complaints, internal cramps, heavy bleeding, piles, irregular menstruation, nervous complaints, insomnia, "the consequences of self abuse", back pain caused by piles, internal and external ulcers, intestinal complaints, stomach cramp, stomachache, leukorrhea, lung complaints, bleeding lungs, chills, rheumatism, fresh sores, scrofulous, sores, fistulas.”


Maria Treben wrote:


For intestinal cancer - it was a young mother of five and the doctor had given her only a few more days - I recommended compresses applied to the area of the intestines, at the same time calamus roots, which were steeped in cold water overnight one level teaspoon per cup of water;

One sip before and after each meal, and a tea made from equal proportions of stinging nettle, calendula and yarrow. At least two liters of this tea have to be sipped throughout the day. Today this woman is so much better that there is hope of a complete recovery.

A woman from Heilbronn, West Germany wrote: "bout 10 months ago, my 41 year old nephew who lives in Sacramento CA wrote in his letter that he suffers from bleeding at the colon daily and the medical diagnosis is without a doubt cancer of the colon A side opening would be necessary. I sent him your book held through God's pharmacy Swedish bitters, calamus roots, calendula, Yarrow and stinging nettle. He followed the instructions in your book. Today my nephew was able to work again. After taking the mention herbs for four days the bleeding stopped. Tiredness and loss of weight were arrested slowly.”



Sophie Hodorowicz Knab tells use of its use in Polish herbalism:


In the Middle Ages, Yarrow was grown in Poland in the garden monasteries of the Domincans and Benedictines.  Marcin of Urzedow suggests poultices of Yarrow for inflamed and pus-filled wounds.  Syreniusz suggested its use for internal bleeding, diarrhea and pain in the intestines.  He suggested that the herb is good boiled in wine and taken for “colic and biting in the stomach.. Mashed and applied to the body it will stop nose bleeds and decrease tooth pain if the root is chewed.”


Country women rubbed the fresh herb in their hands and applied it bleeding areas to stop the flow of blood.  The juice squeezed from the fresh leaves was applies to open sores and fresh wounds.  Boiled in white wine it was considered a medication for vaginal discharge.  A salve was made for wounds, ulcers and fistulas.  The powdered dry leaf was smoked like tobacco to cure headaches.  In the 18th century, extracts and oils made from Yarrow were sold in apothecary shops across Poland.


…It is also one of the herbs blessed on August 15th on the Feast of Our Lady of the Herbs (the Assumption).  



Igor Vilevich Zevin tells us that in Russia, Yarrow was called, “herb of a thousand leaves.  Old herbals document its use as far back as the fourteenth century, although it was probably used before that time.  During the 18th and 19th centuries Russian doctors were very familiar with the medicinal properties of Yarrow and used it to treat hemorrhage and relieve symptoms of dysentery.”  

.  

Turning to the British tradition, Gerard sates:


Yarrow is called of the Latin herbarists Millefolium: it is Dioscorides his Achilleos: in Latin, Achillea, and Achillea sideritis; which thing he may very plainly see that will compare with that description which Dioscorides hath set down: this was found out, saith Pliny in his 25th book, chap. 5, by Achilles, Chiron's disciple, which for that cause is named Achilleios: of others, Sideritis: among us, Millefolium: yet be there other Sideritides and also another Panaces heracleion whereof we will treat in another place: Apuleius setteth down divers names hereof, some of which are also found among the bastard names in Dioscorides: in Latin it is called Militaris, Supercilium veneris, Acrum, or Acorum sylvaticum: of the Frenchmen, Millefeuille: in High Dutch, Garben, Scharffgras: in Low Dutch, Geruwe: in Italian, Millefoglio: in Spanish, Milhoyas yerva: in English, Yarrow, Nosebleed, Common Yarrow, Red Yarrow, and Milfoil.


The Temperature.


           Yarrow, as Galen saith, is not unlike in temperature to the Sideritides, or Ironworts, that is to say, cleansing, and meanly cold, but it most of all bindeth.


The Virtues.


           A. The leaves of Yarrow do close up wounds, and keep them from inflammation, or fiery swelling: it stancheth blood in any part of the body, and it is likewise put into baths for women to sit in: it stoppeth the lask, and being drunk it helpeth the bloody flux.


           B. Most men say that the leaves chewed, and especially green, are a remedy for the toothache.


           C. The leaves being put into the nose, do cause it to bleed, and ease the pain of the megrim.


           D. It cureth the inward excorations of the yard of a man, coming by reason of pollutions or extreme flowing of the seed, although the issue do cause inflammation and swelling of those secret parts, and though the spermatic matter do come down in great quantity, if the juice be injected with a syringe, or the decoction. This hath been proved by a certain friend of mine, sometime a Fellow of Kings College in Cambridge, who lightly bruised the leaves of common Yarrow, with hog's grease, and applied it warm unto the privy parts, and thereby did divers times help himself, and others of his fellows, when he was a student and a single man living in Cambridge.


           E. One dram in powder of the herb given in wine, presently taketh away the pains of the colic.



Culpepper said of Yarrow:


It is under the influence of Venus. As a medicine it is drying and binding. A decoction of it boiled with white wine, is good to stop the running of the reins in men, and whites in women; restrains violent bleedings, and is excellent for the piles. A strong tea in this case should be made of the leaves, and drank plentifully; and equal parts of it, and of toad flax, should be made into a poultice with pomatum, and applied outwardly. This induces sleep, eases the pain, and lessens the bleeding. An ointment of the leaves cures wounds, and is good for inflammations, ulcers, fistulas, and all such runnings as abound with moisture.


Some writers of credit take the pains to inform us what plants cattle will not eat; they judge of this by looking at what are left in grounds, where they feed; and all such they direct to be rooted up. We have in this an instance, that more care is needful than men commonly take to shew what is and what is not valuable. Yarrow is a plant left standing always in fed pasture; for cattle will not eat its dry stalk, nor have the leaves any great virtue after this rises; but Yarrow still is useful. It should be sown on barren grass ground, and while the leaves are tender, the cows and horses will eat it heartily. Nothing is more welcome for them, and it doubles the natural produce. On cutting down the stalks as they rise, it keeps the leaf fresh and they will eat it as it grows.




Mrs. Grieve tells us that the folk history of Yarrow had negative connotations among some cultures:


Its specific name, millefolium, is derived from the many segments of its foliage, hence also its popular name, Milfoil and Thousand Weed. Another popular name for it is Nosebleed, from its property of stanching bleeding of the nose, though another reason given for this name is that the leaf, being rolled up and applied to the nostrils, causes a bleeding from the nose, more or less copious, which will thus afford relief to headache. Parkinson tells us that 'if it be put into the nose, assuredly it will stay the bleeding of it' - so it seems to act either way.


It was one of the herbs dedicated to the Evil One, in earlier days, being sometimes known as Devil's Nettle, Devil's Plaything, Bad Man's Plaything, and was used for divination in spells.


Yarrow, in the eastern counties, is termed Yarroway, and there is a curious mode of divination with its serrated leaf, with which the inside of the nose is tickled while the following lines are spoken. If the operation causes the nose to bleed, it is a certain omen of success:


'Yarroway, Yarroway, bear a white blow,

If my love love me, my nose will bleed now.'

An ounce of Yarrow sewed up in flannel and placed under the pillow before going to bed, having repeated the following words, brought a vision of the future husband or wife:

'Thou pretty herb of Venus' tree,

Thy true name it is Yarrow;

Now who my bosom friend must be,

Pray tell thou me to-morrow.'

---(Halliwell's Popular Rhymes, etc.)


It has been employed as snuff, and is also called Old Man's Pepper, on account of the pungency of its foliage. Both flowers and leaves have a bitterish, astringent, pungent taste.

In the seventeenth century it was an ingredient of salads.


---Parts Used---The whole plant, stems, leaves and flowers, collected in the wild state, in August, when in flower.


---Constituents---A dark green, volatile oil, a peculiar principle, achillein, and achilleic acid, which is said to be identical with aconitic acid, also resin, tannin, gum and earthy ash, consisting of nitrates, phosphates and chlorides of potash and lime.


---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diaphoretic, astringent, tonic, stimulant and mild aromatic.


Yarrow Tea is a good remedy for severe colds, being most useful in the commencement of fevers, and in cases of obstructed perspiration. The infusion is made with 1 OZ. of dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water, drunk warm, in wineglassful doses. It may be sweetened with sugar, honey or treacle, adding a little Cayenne Pepper, and to each dose a teaspoonful of Composition Essence. It opens the pores freely and purifies the blood, and is recommended in the early stages of children's colds, and in measles and other eruptive diseases.


A decoction of the whole plant is employed for bleeding piles, and is good for kidney disorders. It has the reputation also of being a preventative of baldness, if the head be washed with it.


---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. An ointment made by the Highlanders of Scotland of the fresh herb is good for piles, and is also considered good against the scab in sheep.


An essential oil has been extracted from the flowers, but is not now used.


Linnaeus recommended the bruised herb, fresh, as an excellent vulnerary and styptic. It is employed in Norway for the cure of rheumatism, and the fresh leaves chewed are said to cure toothache.


In Sweden it is called 'Field Hop' and has been used in the manufacture of beer. Linnaeus considered beer thus brewed more intoxicating than when hops were used.


John K’Eogh tells us that Yarrow was used in Ireland for a number of complaints:


It has a very dry astringent nature.  Drinking a decoction stops dysentery, and excessive menstrual and other flows.  If bruised and applied to wounds, it stops bleeding and prevents inflammations and swelling.  A dram of it pulverized and taken in a glass of white wine is a perfect remedy for the colic.  Nothing is more effectual against the piles (hemorrhoids) either taken inwardly or applied outwardly.  If applied to the pit of the stomach in a plaster with grated nutmeg, it is beneficial for fevers.


Clover Leaf Farms Herbal Encyclopedia states that Yarrow had more mystical use in pre-Christian Ireland and much use among tribes in the Americas:


Druids used it to divine seasonal changes, and the Chinese used it to foretell the future.


The Aztecs used the plant in poultices for sores. They made teas to cure coughs, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. It was also one of the herbs used to increase contractions during childbirth; and, when taken in large doses, it is used as a purge after overeating.


The Aztec name (tlalquequetzal) includes the suffix for the earth (tla) and for plumes (quetzal”), referring to its feathery leaves.


Yarrow was used by many tribes, including the Cheyenne, Menominee, Lakota, Assiniboin, Gros Ventre, and Okanagan to treat catarrh, coughs, colds, and fever effectively. At times, the use of an herb may seem contradictory, and such is the case with yarrow. The Iroquois drank a tea made from the root to treat diarrhea, while the Okanagan combined the root with other herbs to treat constipation. Many tribes have used yarrow topically in compresses to treat bleeding, as washes for such skin irritations as burns, eczema, hives, and poison ivy, as well as for poultices to treat wounds.


The Cheyenne called the plant “i ha i se e yo” meaning cough medicine. The Osage name is “wetsaoindse egon” or rattlesnake’s tail-like. The Lakota called it cedar weed (xante canxlogan) and wound medicine (taopi pexuta), while the Winnebago’s name referred to the appearance of the leaf — “hank-sintsh” or woodchuck’s tail.


The Cheyenne used the plant to stimulate sweating, to break a fever, and to alleviate cold symptoms. The Blackfeet made a tea and used it as a diuretic or rubbed on afflicted parts of the skin. The Lakotas used it to treat wounds, while the Crows chewed and held it in the mouth to cure a toothache. The Crows also made poultices from the crushed leaves for burns, boils, or open sores. They added goose fat to make a salve. The Assiniboins and Gros Ventres used a tea to treat colds and stomach complaints while poultices were applied to wounds. The Winnebagos placed a wad of leaves in the ear to cure earaches.



The use of Yarrow as a soldier’s herb continued well through the American Revolution and the Civil War.  It was even carried by soldiers in World War I.  King’s Medical Dispensatory of 1898 tells us its official use in medicine:


Chemical Composition.—Yarrow contains a reddish-brown, active, bitter principle called achillein (C20H38N2O15), discovered by Zanon, in 1846 (Liebig's Annalen), and shown by Von Planta (1870) to be alkaloidal and identical with the achilleine of Achillea moschata. Zanon also found an acid which he named achilleic acid, and which was subsequently (1857) shown by Hlasiwetz to be aconitic acid. A small portion of a volatile oil, dark-green in color, may be obtained from yarrow by distillation with water. Milfoil also contains potassium and calcium salts, resin, gum, and tannin.


Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Yarrow possesses slightly astringent properties, and is tonic, alterative and diuretic, in infusion. Its use in chronic diseases of the urinary apparatus, is especially recommended by Prof. J. M. Scudder. It exerts a tonic influence upon the venous system, as well as upon mucous membranes. It has been efficacious in sore throat, hemoptysis, hematuria and other forms of hemorrhage where the bleeding is small in amount, incontinence of urine, diabetes, hemorrhoids with bloody or mucoid discharges, and dysentery; also in amenorrhoea, flatulency and spasmodic diseases, and in the form of injection in leucorrhoea with relaxed vaginal walls. Prof. T. V. Morrow made much use of an infusion of this herb in dysentery. Given in half-drachm doses of the saturated tincture, or 20-drop doses of specific achillea, it will be found one of our best agents for the relief of menorrhagia.


The active principle, Achillein, has been employed in France and other portions of Southern Europe, as a substitute for quinine in the treatment of intermittent fevers. It has also been employed by French physicians to restore arrested lochial discharges.


Ɣ Of infusion (℥i to Aqua Oj), 1 to 2 fluid ounces; specific achillea, 5 to 30 drops; volatile oil, 5 to 20 drops. All preparations of achillea are rendered more pleasant to the taste by the addition of a few drops of oil of anise.


Specific Indications and Uses.—To relieve urinary irritation, strangury, urinary suppression; relieves irritation in incipient Bright's disease, capillary relaxation, leucorrhoea with relaxed and irritated vaginal walls, hematuria, gastric and intestinal atony, atonic amenorrhoea, menorrhagia.


Although no longer officially used in modern, “allopathic” medicine, Yarrow is still considered essential in herbal apothecaries.  Plants for A Future lists its modern use:


Yarrow has a high reputation and is widely employed in herbal medicine, administered both internally and externally. It is used in the treatment of a very wide range of disorders but is particularly valuable for treating wounds, stopping the flow of blood, treating colds, fevers, kidney diseases, menstrual pain etc. The whole plant is used, both fresh and dried, and is best harvested when in flower. Some caution should be exercised in the use of this herb since large or frequent doses taken over a long period may be potentially harmful, causing allergic rashes and making the skin more sensitive to sunlight. The herb combines well with Sambucus nigra flowers (Elder) and Mentha x piperita vulgaris (Peppermint) for treating colds and influenza. The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, mildly aromatic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, odontalgic, stimulant, bitter tonic, vasodilator and vulnerary. It also contains the anti-inflammatory agent azulene, though the content of this varies even between plants in the same habitat. The herb is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be dried for later use. The fresh leaf can be applied direct to an aching tooth in order to relieve the pain.


Among the most amazing attributes of Yarrow to me, though, it the sheer toughness and resilience of the plant.  While in ideal conditions, Yarrow may grow up to 3 feet tall, there is a patch in my yard in an area I mowed for several years. At first, I regretted mowing it because I assumed it would kill the useful herb.  But, the yarrow adapted.  It simply grew shorter and sideways!  The more I cut it, the more it grew.  The “soldier’s herb” simply soldiered on.along with the plantain, dandelion, bugle and selfheal… all herbs that are useful for wounds.  It was somewhat of a “doctrine of signatures” revelation - that God shows us the useful plants by their characteristics.





Author: Judson Carroll.  Judson Carroll is an Herbalist from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His weekly articles may be read at http://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/

His weekly podcast may be heard at: www.spreaker.com/show/southern-appalachian-herbs


He offers free, weekly herb classes: https://rumble.com/c/c-618325



His New Book is The Encyclopedia of Bitter Medicinal Herbs:






Read about The Encyclopedia of Bitter Medicinal Herbs
southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2022/03/the-encyclopedia-of-bitter-medicina.html


Available for purchase on Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B09V3WCJM5

His other works include:
Christian Medicine, History and Practice: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2022/01/christian-herbal-medicine-history-and.html

Available for purchase on Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B09P7RNCTB
Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People by Judson Carroll

You can read about and purchase Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People here: southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/10/herbal-medicine-for-preppers.html

Also available on Amazon: Herbal Medicine for Preppers, Homesteaders and Permaculture People: Carroll, Judson: 9798491252923: Amazon.com: Books

Look Up: The Medicinal Trees of the American South, An Herbalist's Guide: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/06/paypal-safer-easier-way-to-pay-online.html

The Herbs and Weeds of Fr. Johannes Künzle: https://southernappalachianherbs.blogspot.com/2021/05/announcing-new-book-herbs-and-weeds-of.html





Disclaimer


The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. Nothing on this site has been evaluated or approved by the FDA. I am not a doctor. The US government does not recognize the practice of herbal medicine and their is no governing body regulating herbalists. Therefore, I'm just a guy who studies herbs. I am not offering any advice. I won't even claim that anything I write is accurate or true! I can tell you what herbs have "traditionally been used for." I can tell you my own experience and if I believe an herb helped me. I cannot, nor would I tell you to do the same. If you use any herb I, or anyone else, mentions you are treating yourself. You take full responsibility for your health. Humans are individuals and no two are identical. What works for me may not work for you. You may have an allergy, sensitivity or underlying condition that no one else shares and you don't even know about. Be careful with your health. By continuing to read my blog you agree to be responsible for yourself, do your own research, make your own choices and not to blame me for anything, ever.
 
Posts: 7
Location: everywhere and nowhere
1
forest garden books medical herbs
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
thank you for this lovely post. <3
in ayurveda yarrow is suggested for reducing any 'heat' in the body, inflammation, fevers, as well as drying up excess phlegm and moisture. it's really magical.
 
Judson Carroll
pollinator
Posts: 707
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
234
food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Kailee Williamson wrote:thank you for this lovely post. <3
in ayurveda yarrow is suggested for reducing any 'heat' in the body, inflammation, fevers, as well as drying up excess phlegm and moisture. it's really magical.



I tis certainly good for fevers and phlegm - no doubt!
 
pollinator
Posts: 433
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 7b
93
dog forest garden fish fungi trees hunting books food preservation building wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Very nice. I just remembered I bought yarrow seeds last year and never planted them!

Also, thanks for posting about your book. Right up my alley.
 
Judson Carroll
pollinator
Posts: 707
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
234
food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Dan Fish wrote:Very nice. I just remembered I bought yarrow seeds last year and never planted them!

Also, thanks for posting about your book. Right up my alley.



Always my pleasure - thanks!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1103
Location: NW California, 1500-1800ft,
308
2
hugelkultur dog forest garden solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great post! I’ve used a yarrow poultice on wounds in the backcountry, along with an onion skin over the top, with good results. It’s also a great tea for colds and aching joints in my experience.
 
Judson Carroll
pollinator
Posts: 707
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
234
food preservation cooking medical herbs writing homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Ben Zumeta wrote:Great post! I’ve used a yarrow poultice on wounds in the backcountry, along with an onion skin over the top, with good results. It’s also a great tea for colds and aching joints in my experience.



Excellent testimony - always good to hear real life experience!
 
Nothing up my sleeve ... and ... presto! A tiny ad:
Work Trade for the 2023 Garden Master Course
https://permies.com/wiki/190487/permaculture-projects/Work-Trade-Garden-Master
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic