Yarrow is a common wildflower in the Asteraceae family. You’ll find it spread across North America, Europe, and Asia; It has long been revered for the ability to staunch bleeding, prevent infection and numb pain.
The Latin name for yarrow, Achillea millefolium has an interesting story. Achillea comes from Greek mythology. According to legend, Achilles the great Greek warrior used yarrow on the battlefield to heal soldiers wounds. Millefolium refers to the many fine leaflets on each yarrow leaf.
In the middle ages, Yarrow was used for healing, and it was also an ingredient used to flavor ale. Today, it as useful and versatile as it was in ancient times. You can use the leaves and flowers of yarrow for a wide range of herbal and even culinary preparations.
Yarrow for wound care
When used for wound care the leaves can be used to staunch the flow of blood. They can be mashed up and used as a fresh poultice or dried into a convenient powder. In addition to its ability to staunch bleeding, yarrow also contains beneficial antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that are also highly beneficial for wound care.
The easiest way to use yarrow for wound care is in the form of styptic powder, something that’s very easy to make at home. If you happen to have a food dehydrator you can have a batch of this powder made in under three hours; otherwise, it will take a few days for the leaves to become dry and brittle. When stored correctly, styptic powder is shelf stable and can last up to five years.
To make a yarrow powder, first, you’ll need to know where to look.
Most often you’ll find yarrow spread across meadows, disturbed areas, and barren lands. We are fortunate to have it growing all over our backyard.
How to identify yarrow
You can identify yarrow by its tiny white clusters of flowers and feathery fern-like leaves. Although it is less common, you’ll also find yarrow growing wild in shades of lilac and yellow.
Yarrow can be confused with Queen Anne’s Lace or wild carrot, but the flowers of yarrow are thicker, not as lacy and the clusters are not quite as umbrella-like.
Word of caution when foraging for wild plants
Learning how to use native plants is very easy, but you should approach it with caution. If you are unfamiliar with a particular plant, it is best to have them correctly identified by someone knowledgeable. Carrying a local field guide is something we highly recommend.
Persons with allergies to other members of the Asteraceae family should exercise caution with yarrow. It is best that you contact a qualified herbal practitioner before using yarrow if you are pregnant, nursing or taking medications.
Yarrow Styptic Powder Directions
- Gather a good handful of leaves from the base of the stalk. These leaves will be long and feathery. Never take more than 1/3 of the leaves from any plant, or you can kill it.
- You can spread the leaves out of a mesh screen, hang them in bundles or use a food dehydrator to dry them. Air Drying takes 2-5 days whereas the dehydrator takes only a few hours.
- Once dry, strip the stems from the feathers by gliding your hand down the stem. Discard the stems.
- Using a grinder or a mortar and pestle grind the feathers into a fine powder. You might want to wear a mask as the powder can float into the air.
- Once ground you can store it in an airtight jar. Keep in a dark, dry location, and it will last for up to five years.
How To use styptic powder
Apply a small amount of dry powder to minor cuts, bruises, scrapes, insect bites and other abrasions. You can affix a band-aid or wrap over the powder to secure it in place.
You can also use this styptic powder on pets. If you happen to be cutting nails and catch the cuticle, covering the claw with some powder should staunch the bleeding quite quickly.
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