Here I sit, sipping on a cup of yarrow tea sweetened with honey. Why have I plucked the flowers and leaves from the flower beds in my yard for this steamy drink? Because I have a red, inflamed throat, of course!
I have yarrow growing in my backyard. It can be identified by the dome-shaped clusters of white, daisy-like flowerettes. It is a member of the aster/composite family (Asteraceae). Each individual flower has a visible middle and individual petal groupings. They bloom from April through October. While the most common color is white, ornamental varieties can be orange, red, pink, and yellow. It can grow to about three feet high. The leaves are the real dead giveaway of the identity of yarrow. They are feather-like in appearance. The roots are more like runners, as opposed to tubers.
Yarrow grows in the northern hemisphere in America, as well as Europe and Asia. It is a common resident of sunny open areas and edges of woodlands. Of course, it’s many varieties are sold as ornamental perennials at nurseries and big box garden centers.
The Greek warriors Achilles was said to have been dipped in yarrow steeped in water by his mother for protection. It was carried by the soldiers in Achilles’ army. Historical texts state it was stuffed into wounds. It was said to be used to staunch the bleeding and promote clotting. It has been known under many names, including “nosebleed.” Midwives have historically used yarrow to jump start a period and, conversely, ease heavy bleeding. It is thought to both break up coagulation and activate platelets. Many herbalists refer to it as a regulator of the blood.
Many herbal texts list teas made from the flowers, leaves and Arial parts (that means everything above the ground) for encouraging sweating and purifying the body. This would be why I’m sipping on it for my sore, inflamed throat. A popular blend for respiratory complaints is yarrow with mint and/or elderberry. Janice Schofield has suggested lying the plant on the hot rocks in a sauna while sipping a tea made from the plant. This sweating occurs because yarrow encourages the blood to circulate closer to the surface of the skin.
Bitter herbs encourage the secretion of digestive liquids. Yarrow is one such bitter herb. It provides the bitter flavor to vermouth and is sometimes used as a hops substitute in the brewing of beer. The digestive tract may also benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to increase circulation. The assorted flavonoid and alkaloid compounds are known to alleviate many digestive complaints. Animal studies allude to its benefit in fighting spasms, inflammation and other IBS like symptoms, as well as it having some promise in protecting against stomach acid and exhibited anti-ulcer qualities.
It is said to protect the skin when in excessive sun and/or wind. One suggested way to take advantage of this is by “tenting” a towel over one’s head over a steam bath of yarrow in boiling hot water.
Many herbs are thought to support the emotions. Yarrow is no different. There is some preliminary research to suggest yarrow may be helpful for eliminating anxiety and depression. While much more research is needed to confirm this, some writings suggest it to be helpful for eliminating what I refer to as the “F-You” attitude. It is said to be of use to lighten the mood in its form as a tea, a flower essence, and an essential oil.
Properties of Yarrow: Alterative, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, antiviral, aromatic, astringent, bitter, coagulent, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenegogue, febrifuge, hypotensive, lymphatic, nervine, parasympatholytic, stimulant, stomachic, styptic, tonic, uterine and vulnerary
**Yarrow is not for everyone. Those who have ragweed allergies or allergies to other daisy-like plants may want to steer clear of yarrow. Also, it is not suggested to utilize this plant internally if you are using medications that thin the blood.
Some of my favorite Yarrow products
In this video, Lori gives just a little information about Yarrow. This is NOT a comprehensive video on the plant, Read More
We all see the bright yellow blooms every spring. The fuzzy globes of golden sunshine lawn care companies would have you believe are the bane of every American household. Yes – I am referring to dandelions. Dandelions are the first flower picked by small children for their mothers and an early food source for bees. However there is a lot more to know about this plant than just that.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) have a rich history of being a food source for not just animals, but humans, too. According to legend, Theseus ate a dandelion salad after killing the Minotaur. It was consumed by the Romans, Gauls, Greeks, and the Celts. It was not uncommon for seeds of this plant to be included in the garden staples brought along by early settlers. It is no surprise why it was so popular. Today we know it is very nutritious. Dandelion greens (leaves) are an excellent source of vitamins K, C, A and smaller amounts of vitamin E, assorted B vitamins, and folate. They contain an impressive amount of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These contents may help to build healthy bones and muscles. Dandelion greens can be eaten both raw or cooked. Take care where you gather your dandelions. It is not suggested to gather those that have been sprayed with chemical herbicides nor those found along heavily polluted roads (think car exhaust – yuck).
Many names have been hung on dandelion over the years. Piss-a-lint, Piss-the-bed and other names hint at its historical use as a diuretic. Many sources, both traditional and modern medical refer to dandelion as being able to rid the body of excess fluids. Susan Weed writes about dandelion with great love in her herbals. As with any diuretic, consult with a medical professional before mixing with prescription medications.
Small, but promising, studies show dandelion may have protective effect on the liver when exposed to toxic substances. Although these are small studies in animals, they offer great promise for future research. Also needing more research is the small evidence that dandelion may help reduce the amount of fat stored in the liver. The presence of chologenic acid is thought to increase metabolism in mice. Mouse metabolism is different than that of humans so more research is needed to investigate the possibility of this effect in humans. However, there is no doubt in the high antioxidant content of dandelion. The high levels of vitamins A and C along with betacarotene and polypehnols present in dandelion provide protection from oxidative stress and tissue damage in a cellular level from free radicals.
Dandelion root contains fiber, called inulin, considered to be a prebiotic. It supplies a proper environment for healthy, beneficial bacteria to grow. Consuming dandelion may stimulate colon contractions, thereby reducing constipation.
There are many great Nature’s Sunshine Products containing dandelion. Feel free to click under the image that might interest you to learn more about the product.
This is just a quick video about dandelion. It, by no means, covers everything about this great plant. I hope Read More
In March of 2021, I offered a chair yoga based stretch class via Zoom. I recorded a session and decided Read More