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A few years ago was the first time I learned about the amazing medicinal properties of yarrow. Since then, I harvest some every year to keep around the house for first aid uses. When yarrow is in bloom during the summer, it is easy for me to run out to the garden and harvest some to use. I used to dry yarrow to use for first aid purposes year round. I found that it wasn’t as effective and trying to reconstitute dried yarrow to make a poultice was rather difficult compared to using fresh yarrow. To solve this issue and have medicinal yarrow to use year round for first aid purposes, we made a medicinal yarrow first aid salve. This salve has quickly become our family’s go-to natural remedy!
Medicinal Properties of Yarrow
Yarrow is my number one go-to natural remedy for first aid needs. It is such a versatile herb with so many different medicinal properties. It is quite easy to grow and is commonly found growing wild so it is easy to find and wild harvest. According to author Linda Kershaw in her book Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies:
“Yarrow has been used for thousands of years as a stypic-a plant that stops bleeding….The plants contain alkaloids that have been shown to reduce clotting time and have been used to suppress menstruation. They also have sedative, pain-killing, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic constituents…..Yarrow leaves have been used in washes, salves, and poultices for treating burns, boils, open sores, pimples, mosquito bites, earaches, sore eyes, and aching backs and legs.”
The first few times I used yarrow medicinally, I was amazed! It stopped bleeding in a cut, drastically reduced skin irritation from a rash, and was a miracle worker on the crazy itches from a bee sting and bug bites! According to Darcy Williamson in her book Healing Plants of the Rocky Mountains:
“Yarrow contains achilletin and achilleine that aids in blood coagulation. The fresh leaves are an effective first aid to stimulate clotting in cuts and abrasions, as well as working as an antiseptic and a local anesthetic.”
With all these amazing medicinal properties, no wonder yarrow is my number one choice for a natural first aid remedy!
Medicinal Yarrow for Rashes
We used medicinal yarrow for first aid needs several times already this summer. The day we were out harvesting yarrow last month, my husband broke out in a weird rash on his arm. We weren’t sure what caused it, but it was really itchy. We chewed up a bunch of yarrow leaves and made a poultice to put on the rash. My husband felt quick relief from the itching. A few minutes later we removed the yarrow leaves and the rash had almost gone away! I read in this herbal book that the author noticed a greater first aid benefit from yarrow when the person affected actually chewed on the yarrow leaves and swallowed the bitter juices instead of spitting them out. I have to agree that we noticed this too!
Medicinal Yarrow for Bee Stings
A few weeks ago I had the unfortunate experience of getting stung by a honeybee on my big toe. My foot started swelling and boy did it hurt!! I wasn’t at home when it happened and could hardly push the clutch in my car to drive home. Miserable! Had I been near yarrow, I would have chewed up some leaves to put on the sting.
The pain and swelling went away after a day or so. Then the weirdest thing happened. A week later my foot swelled up in that same area and began itching like crazy. I hadn’t turned our yarrow infused oil into salve yet, so I just rubbed some yarrow infused oil on the affected area. The relief was unbelievable! The medicinal properties of the yarrow soothed the red, irritated skin and made the itching go away for a several hours at a time. I applied the yarrow infused oil every couple hours for a day or two until the itching was completely gone.
Medicinal Yarrow for Bug Bites
There’s nothing worse than an itchy, pesky mosquito bite. It seems like the more you scratch ’em, the more they itch! Since I knew the yarrow oil worked wonders on my itchy foot from the bee sting, I tried it on itchy bug bites. It worked wonders on bug bites too!
Medicinal Yarrow for Cuts, Scrapes and Burns
The first time I ever harvested yarrow for medicinal purposes a couple years ago, I accidentally cut my hand when cutting yarrow. I thought it was pretty ironic it happened, considering the medicinal value of yarrow to help stop bleeding. Yarrow is known as “nature’s band-aid” for that very reason! When I cut myself, I chewed up a yarrow leaf, made a poultice, and placed it on top of the cut. After a few minutes I removed it and the bleeding had stopped! Since then, I’ve used yarrow to help stop bleeding on several cuts, scrapes and burns. I read a few years ago that it is not recommended to use yarrow on very large, deep cuts but it works great for smaller “boo boos” as Little A would say!
Making Medicinal Yarrow Infused Oil
You can use yarrow flowers and/or leaves to make an infused oil. When we were harvesting yarrow last month in the mountains, the flowers had barely started blooming. There weren’t enough for me to ethically harvest just the flowers so our infused oil is made of mainly yarrow leaves and still works wonders!
– 1 to 2 cups of freshly harvested yarrow leaves and/or flowers (If they have any moisture on them, let them dry out for a day before using)
-clean glass jar with tight fitting lid
1. Harvest fresh, dry yarrow leaves and/or flowers. Roughly chop the yarrow and pack the yarrow leaves and/or flowers into the glass jar.
2. Pour olive oil over top the yarrow until the yarrow is completely covered.
3. Place the lid on the jar and sit in a dark place like a cupboard for 3-4 weeks to infuse.
4. After the yarrow has infused into the oil, strain the yarrow through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Store the yarrow oil in a clean glass jar out of direct sunlight.
Yarrow First Aid Salve
This salve is easy to make and only requires two ingredients. This salve was the first product I made with our own rendered beeswax from honeycomb in our bee hives! This recipe can be halved or doubled depending on the quantity of salve you want to make. Just make sure you keep the same basic ratio of beeswax to oil in the recipe.
-1 cup yarrow infused olive oil
-1 ounce beeswax, shredded or broken into small pieces (before I rendered our own beeswax, I bought these low cost and easy to shred beeswax bars)
1.Place the yarrow infused oil and beeswax into a glass jar or measuring cup.
2. Put an old pot on the stove and fill with a few inches of water. This will be used to create a double boiler for the glass jar the ingredients are in. Place the glass jar or measuring cup filled with beeswax and oil into the center of the pan of water. Turn the stove on medium heat. Slowly heat until the beeswax is all melted.
3. Carefully remove the glass of hot liquid from the stove. Pour it into clean glass jars until cool and cover with tight fitting lids. I love to use these small glass canning jars which are the perfect size for homemade salves.
4. Store in a cool, dark cupboard. This should keep for at least six months to a year and then the yarrow may begin to lose some potency since it is getting old. As much as we’ve used medicinal yarrow in the last few months, I highly doubt this batch will last longer than a year!
If you have yarrow infused olive oil left after making salve, you can store it in a dark colored glass jar in a cupboard. I was given a bunch of amber glass bottles with medicine dropper tops (you can find them here) that I use to store my homemade herbal infused oils.
Here’s a list of things we use medicinal yarrow first aid salve for:
- Bee Stings
- Stop bleeding in minor cuts
- Headaches (I rub it on my temples and find some relief, although chewing fresh yarrow leaves is more effective for headache relief)
- Bug Bites
- Diaper Rash
*Before using any herbal product on yourself or others, test a small quantity to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction. I’ve read in several of my herbal books that pregnant women should not use yarrow. Please also note that I am not a doctor and I’m not giving medical advice here. What I am doing is sharing our own personal experiences with this amazing medicinal herb that grows in my gardens and grows wild in the mountains around us.*
What do you use yarrow for?