Foraging,  Immune Support

Yarrow, the Mighty Fever Reducer!

(Achillea millefolium)


Yarrow seems like the princess of the spring prairies. Standing erect and tall with her beautiful white blooms that look like spots of lace in a field of wildflowers. With all this beauty, you also get brains because yarrow is an amazing herbal powerhouse full of important healing properties.  

Yarrow starts blooming in north Texas in late April. It has beautiful wispy, delicate, feathery leaves that make it very distinct from all the other “fern” leaf looking plants that bloom at the same time (such as Spreading Hedgeparsley, pictured below). Everything above the ground can be harvested from the plant. You can dry the stalks and use the stems, leaves, and flowers in teas or tinctures. They dry well in a dehydrator, in the sun or you can hang them upside down and tie the stems and dry them in bunches. 

Yarrow comes in many colors but for medicinal use, the wild yarrow with white blossoms has the strongest constituents for healing, though any color may be used. 

Yarrow is a diaphoretic, meaning it has the ability to induce sweating. This is beneficial in cases of colds, flu, inflammation, and fevers. When administered hot, yarrow raises the body temperature, equalizing the circulation and producing a “sweat”.  Historically, sweat lodges and bathhouses popularized this idea and they had great success in bringing healing to many people just by inducing perspiration. Another winning combination is to combine yarrow with elderberry and peppermint in a tea for colds and flu-type symptoms. 

I have used yarrow successfully with my own family for years. At the first sign of a cold, I start administering hot yarrow tea that I make with boiling distilled water. After several glasses of yarrow, their circulation increases, they start sweating, their fever rises, and within a few hours or overnight the fever “breaks”.  Of course, we don’t use any over-the-counter fever-reducing drugs with this method because it would be counterproductive. We’ll go into fevers on a deeper level in a later blog post. 

Another way to use yarrow is for healing cuts and wounds. Yarrow will stop bleeding when the leaves are crushed or chewed and applied directly to the wound as a poultice. Our family enjoys hiking and my son is a rock climber and loves to climb outdoors, so we have put this method to practice on many occasions. If your family is like mine, this is a great plant to make sure your family knows how to identify and use properly for all of their outdoor explorations. This method is so ancient that In Greek mythology there is a plant mentioned that was used to heal wounds. Botanists and historians agree that they believe yarrow is the “wound healer” mentioned in Homer’s Iliad that Achilles used to heal wounds.

(Left) Yarrow (Right) Spreading Hedgeparsley

One of my favorite ways to use this plant is for a hair rinse to reverse grey hair. Since I don’t dye my hair, this is my secret weapon (well, not a secret anymore). I make yarrow into a strong infusion and use it as a rinse after I wash my hair. If you’re starting to see gray hairs, then start this now as a preventative. If you already have a lot of grey hair then it will take more effort and could take up to a year of applying it 2-3 times a week. We’ll go into this further in another post as there are also ways to highlight your hair with plants. Preventing rather than reversing issues is always an easier path but reversing problems is doable with perseverance. 

So, now that you have been introduced to this prairie princess, grab an identification book, go on a walk and see if you can find her. I hope you enjoy adding yarrow into your daily life as much as I do. 

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