Never heard of yarrow, you say? You've been missing out.
Yarrow, also known as Achillea millefolium, is a flowering plant that also has medicinal uses.
I'll tell you what yarrow is, what it is used for, and how you can get started with it now.
What is yarrow?
Yarrow is a plant that can be found all over the world. In the United States, it can usually be found on the west coast and the Pacific Northwest. It is an herbaceous, perennial plant that produces small, white flowers.
This powerful little herb has been used in traditional and folk medicine for many years. It is known to have astringent, diaphoretic, stimulant, and aromatic properties.
Fun fact: The genus name Achillea is derived from the mythical Greek character Achilles, who apparently carried the plant with his army to treat battle wounds.
Another fun fact: Yarrow is thought to bring good luck in the Chinese tradition.
Yarrow is consumed by using dried or fresh leaves and flowers to make a variety of remedies. More on this later.
What does yarrow do?
Yarrow has a number of pain-relieving and health benefits.
Here are just a few:
Calms your gut
Yarrow has long been used in traditional medicine to treat gastrointestinal disorders.
Research shows that yarrow can help relax stomach muscles, therefore, cutting down on intestinal spasms.
This animal study induced intestinal contractions with acetylcholine and potassium chloride. When yarrow extract was given, the induced contractions were significantly reduced.
So, yarrow might come in handy and slow things down when you're experiencing stomach cramps or diarrhea.
Properties to fight inflammation
We're back on inflammation. You know what that's all about.
Inflammation can be systemic leading to chronic diseases like heart disease or cancer. We also know inflammation as the process by which our bodies fight infections and heal wounds.
It turns out that yarrow can help fight the inflammation that happens on irritated skin.
In this study, researchers sought to find the effectiveness of yarrow against skin inflammation.
After seven days of treatment, the oil yarrow extracts were able to restore the skin's pH and moisture as well as decrease redness.
An effective, natural remedy for skin woes? Sign me up.
Helps period pains
Okay, ladies, you know what I'm talking about with those dreaded monthly menstrual cramps.
Dysmenorrhea (a fancy name for painful periods) happens to many of us and can be quite intense.
Who wouldn't want another tool in their arsenal to fight this pain?
Interestingly, yarrow tea has been found to be effective against period pain.
In this study, female college students received yarrow tea or placebo and used it for three days during their menstrual cycle. After one and two months of treatment, the group who had the yarrow tea had significantly less pain than the placebo group.
Sounds like a better method than throwing back pain meds.
Improve symptoms in chronic illness
Chronic pain and chronic illness don't just have one symptom. They come with a myriad of symptoms that affect your overall well-being. This includes depression, anxiety, fatigue, and so on.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a good example of a condition that comes with much more than belly pain.
Yarrow can actually be helpful for symptoms of IBS to improve quality of life.
In this study, a group of people with IBS was given herbal medication including yarrow whereas the control group did not receive any intervention.
After one and three months, those who received the herbal medication reported less frequency and severity of abdominal pain, less bloating, and less depression and anxiety.
The men in the group also reported a better quality of life.
Perhaps we are getting closer to using natural herbal preparations to help treat complex syndromes like IBS.
Calm mouth sores
One common side effect (of many) from chemotherapy or radiation is oral mucositis. This is characterized by painful mouth sores, inflammation, bleeding, and pain.
As you can imagine, this can be quite debilitating for the person since they are not able to eat, drink, or even speak normally. It can even be an indication to stop cancer treatment.
There are different preparations of mouthwashes to help combat these symptoms. A mouthwash containing yarrow could be a good solution.
In a study of cancer patients with chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis, one group received a routine solution whereas the other group received the routine solution mixed with distilled yarrow. The solutions were gargled four times daily for 14 days.
In the intervention group, the severity of oral mucositis was significantly decreased at 7 and 14 days. In the control group, the severity actually worsened.
Who would've thought, right?
How to use yarrow
- promote restful sleep
- ease menstrual cramps
- help congestion symptoms from allergies or colds
- bring down fever
It can also be used topically as a salve or compress to soothe irritated skin.
A salve is a healing balm made from infused oil and beeswax. See example recipe for calendula salve here and substitute yarrow.
A compress is made simply by applying yarrow tea to a washcloth and apply to the affected area.
You can also apply yarrow directly to a wound to help stop bleeding.
Also, don't forget that our all-natural pain relief cream contains yarrow and works synergistically with MSM to help reduce inflammation and muscle pain.
What else should I know?
Yarrow is not generally considered to become toxic but the ideal dosage is not known.
Pregnant women should avoid ingesting yarrow as it is thought to stimulate the uterus.
Yarrow can cause excess sleepiness when taken internally.
If you're allergic to plants in the Aster family, like ragweed and daisies, then you might be allergic to Yarrow whether it's taken internally or externally.
Yarrow might interact with certain medications such as:
- blood thinners
- lithium (psychiatric drug)
- antacids and medications for acid reflux
Talk to your doctor if you have health conditions or take medications.
Yarrow is a powerful plant with many positive benefits. It can be used in a variety of ways to achieve its desired effect.
Go natural and get started with yarrow today.
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