Yarrow (Ya Luo)
Botanical Name: Achillea millefollum
Yarrow has often been used in divination and spells. It is a powerfully protective herb and famous for helping to heal wounds and treat influenza. It has a long tradition in European, Native American and Chinese medicine. Yarrow helps treat toothaches, fevers, digestive issues, ulcers, lowers blood pressure and much, much more.
Below is an overview of Yarrow, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Yarrow.
Western Name: Yarrow
Also Known As: Little Feather, Herbal Militaris, Nosebleed Plant, Old Man’s Pepper, Devils Nettle, Thousand-leaf
Organs/Systems: Small Intestines, Uterus, Kidneys, Endocrine System
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Diaphoretic, Astringing, Tonic, Stimulant, Mild Aromatic, Diuretic, Anelgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Catarrh, Vulinary.
Pin Yin: Ya Luo
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Spleen, Lungs, Kidney
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Moves Qi and Blood: angina, chest pain, shortness of breath, abdominal cramping, headaches, vertigo, palpitations, varicose veins, hemorrhoids. Reduces Inflammation/Resolves Dampness: bladder infections, urinary stones, frequent urination, spermatorrhea, leucorrhea. Heals Wounds/Stops Bleeding: wounds, cuts. Tonifies Qi/Releases to the Exterior: measles, chickenpox, flu, colds, fevers.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaves, Flowering Tops, Roots
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Astringing, Pungent
Caution: In rare cases it can cause severe allergic skin reactions and increase skin photosensitivity. This is especially true if the skin is wet or during contact with cut grass and yarrow together.
History/Folklore: The plant’s genus name, “Achillea,” is derived from Achilles who carried it into battles. A Greek myth says that Achilles would paint himself everywhere but his heals, with a tincture of yarrow to make himself invulnerable to arrows.
Yarrow is also said to grow around the grave of Confucius. It is said the most effective way to cast the I Ching is by using yarrow straws, as the stems are good for divining the future. An old Chinese proverb asserts that yarrow has the ability to brighten the eyes and promote intelligence. Yarrow and tortoiseshells are both considered good luck in Chinese traditions. Where yarrow grows in the mountains no tigers, wolves or poisonous plants will be found on the trails.
The Cherokee, Iroquois and Mohegan Native Americans used yarrow as a digestive aid and to treat a variety of types of swellings.
Homer tells the story of the centaur Chiron, a healer who conveyed herbal secrets to human students and is credited with teaching Achilles how to use yarrow on the battle field to both heal wounds and for its magical healing properties. When used by the goddess Aphrodite the plant becomes a loving herb used in love potions and to heal emotional wounds of the heart.
Western Europe associated yarrow with both the goddess and the demon. As a witching herb, it was used to summon the devil or drive him away. Yarrow was often found in Saxon amulets for protection. These functions are believed to be the root of the plant’s common names, “Devil Plaything,” “Bad Man’s Plaything” or “Devils Nettle.”
Put yarrow under your pillow and you will dream of your own true love. If you dream of cabbages, which have a similar scent, then there will be death or other serious misfortune striking. If you hang dried yarrow over a wedding bed you ensure lasting love, or at least seven years will be happy!
Yarrow both stops and helps promote bleeding. The flowers are mildly stimulating and have even been used as snuff. It is mainly used to treat colds and influenza. As yarrow is believed to be an anti-allergenic, it aids the treatment of hay fever and other grass and pollen related allergies.
The aerial part is said to be best for treating phlegmy conditions. As a bitter digestive, yarrow encourages the flow of bile.
Yarrow has been planted to prevent soil erosion. Especially as it is a drought resistant plant. Prior to mono-culture farming yarrow was always allowed to grow in fields as its roots grow deep and the leaves are rich in minerals, so it helped prevent mineral deficiencies in other species and plants that grew nearby and ingested it. It is a popular companion plant, repelling bad insects while attracting good predatory ones and improving soil quality. It also attracts ladybugs and hoverflies. It is thought to be a good fertilizer and is good for composting. Yarrow directly improves the health of nearby sickly plants. Starlings and other cavity nesting birds use yarrow to line their nests. Studies show this helps inhibits growth parasites.
Isoveleric acid, Salicylic acid, Aspargin, Steroids, Flavonoids, Bitters, Tannins, Coumarins, Achilleic acid (said to be identical to Aconitic acid), Gum and Earthy Ash, Nitrates, Phosphates, Chlorides of Potash and Lime.
The shape of yarrow’s leaves gives the plant one of its names, “Little Feather.” The name “Herbal Militaris” comes from the plant’s ability to stop blood flowing from wounds caused in battle.
Flowers Most Beneficial
Yarrow’s flowering tops are the most medicinally active part of the plant.
Yarrow tea is excellent for treating severe colds.
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