Summer is in full swing! Everyone is enjoying the sunshine, is out camping, hiking, fishing, and all the other amazing activities we have in our beautiful state. This time of year there is a plant that grows all over Alaska. It packs a powerful punch and is an amazing tool to have in your herbal repertoire. That plant is called yarrow.
Yarrow is known by the Latin name of Achillea millefolium. Another common name for this plant is Queen Anne’s Lace. Let me tell you about many of the ways this plant can be a benefit to you this summer.
One of the more popular healing properties yarrow is known for is its styptic ability. Styptic means that yarrow helps to stop bleeding. This herb is also anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, and a sedative. It is perfect for cuts, scrapes, bruises, and sores. This herb can be used externally by chopping up, grinding down, or even chewing up and then placing it on the affected area. If needed this herb can be eaten (although quite bitter) to help bleeding issues internally as well as digestive discomforts.
With it being summer in Alaska, can you say MOSQUITOS? Yarrow is also a great insect repellent. Take the plant, break it down through grinding, chopping, or again, even chewing, and then rub the natural oils and juice inside the plant over your skin. If you rely on this as your sole repellent, reapply often. If those sneaky buggers do manage to bite you, you can use yarrow for the irritation, especially if you have an inflammatory reaction to bug bites.
Yarrow also makes a beautiful tea and is excellent for colds, flu, virus, and fevers. Use 1-2 tsp. of fresh or dried yarrow and steep in freshly boiled water for 10-15 minutes. It helps the body to perspire and regulates body temperature. Yarrow is my “go to” if one of my children has a fever. If you are making this tea for a child, use 1/2 tsp. of yarrow per 8-12 oz. of water. Weaker teas are more effective for little bodies. Yarrow tea is also a very effective remedy for burns. Make the tea as normal, put in the fridge or freezer to cool, then you can use organic cotton balls to apply to burned skin. If it is a large area, you can dip strips of clean cotton cloth in the tea and wrap the affected area.
Both the leaves and the flowers can be used when harvesting this plant. The best time to harvest is late spring and early summer when the plant is still young and tender. However, it can be harvested anytime and used very effectively. Make sure you harvest in areas that have not been sprayed with chemicals or near roadways. Also, when wild harvesting, make sure you use healthy and sustainable harvesting methods. Do not harvest all of the plant in one area. It is also helpful to make notes when you come across a good harvesting area with a plentiful supply of great quality herbs for future reference.