Yarrow has other applications, too. If you’re out hiking and you cut yourself, applying the fresh leaves and flowers topically will stop bleeding and disinfect the area. If you pick the plant now, you can dry and powder it to have on hand for first aid later. And you can also brew a warming tea with the dried yarrow as a cold remedy. Herbalists say it’s good for sweating out a fever. If you make the tincture described above as an external insect repellent, you also could use it internally as an antibiotic to treat dysentery or urinary tract infections, according to herbalist Stephen Buhner.If you’re into home-brewing your own beer, yarrow is for you. It has been used as an alternative to hops as well as an adjunct, and is said to intensify intoxication. I don’t know if that’s true, but I have had the pleasure of sipping yarrow beer and can vouch for its good flavor.
The Latin name for yarrow, Achillea millefolium, refers to two of its characteristics. The word “Millefolium” means thousand-leaved. If you look at a photo of the feathery yarrow leaves, you’ll see why. Achillea is derived from Achilles, the name of the mythical Greek warrior in Homer’s “Illiad.” It’s a reference to the herb’s wound-dressing abilities on the battlefield.
But if you’re an anthropology nerd like me, then the most interesting thing to know about yarrow is that archeologists detected it inside Shanidar Cave, a 62,000-year-old Neanderthal site in northern Iraq.
*Note: Do not use yarrow during pregnancy.*
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