Yarrow: What It Is and What It’s Good For
We humans have resourcefully discovered many herbs and natural plants that provide us with real benefits, and modern science has helped us to rediscover the usefulness of these resources. Sage, rosemary, calendula--you name it, and we’ve used it for medicine! But, far too few people know of yarrow, another beneficial herb.
This flowering herb is very effective at soothing your skin, which is why yarrow is used in many of Green Goo’s best herbal remedies and topical salves.
Let’s break down everything there is to know and like about yarrow!
What Is Yarrow?
Yarrow is a type of herb that was originally native to both Europe and Asia, though it has since spread to the United States and everywhere else around the world. It has supposedly been used for thousands of years, with some historical evidence that it was enjoyed by the Greeks all the way back in the first millennium BC (specifically, Achilles – yes, that Achilles – used it in The Iliad).
You can always identify yarrow pretty easily since it has off-white and feathery-looking flowers with five petals or so on average. The flowers are usually clustered on a straight stalk, and the yarrow plant produces an aroma that’s pretty close to chamomile and pine.
Since you can find yarrow everywhere, it’s possible to collect your own supply of the plant from fields or sandy soils depending on your climate. But, you can also easily find yarrow in herbal shops, and as an ingredient in many excellent natural remedies and healing products.
How Does Yarrow Work?
People use yarrow for a variety of things, especially since every part of the plant is useful to some degree. The flower is the most commonly used part, as it contains all of the aromatic oils that are used for aromatherapy or healing. The leaves beneath the flowers are potent if you harvest them in spring and summer and can be used for their tannins. Meanwhile, the root of the yarrow plant is harvested and often chewed to offer quick temporary relief from various aches and pains.
Yarrow is often used as an astringent. An astringent is a type of compound that can cleanse the skin, dry out oil, and tighten the pores. You’ve probably heard of astringents primarily in chemical contexts, but natural astringents like yarrow do exist and can be beneficial.
Astringents can provide a plethora of benefits including:
- Reducing the appearance of large pores, which can make your skin look younger and healthier
- Improving skin tightness, which is desirable for the same reasons
- Cleaning face oil
- Cleaning irritants off the surface of skin
- Soothing irritated skin
Many astringents are used in anti-acne products for this reason. Historically, yarrow was used to stop bleeding, at least for surface level wounds – this makes sense since the astringent properties of its parts can help the skin to close up more quickly in a dire situation.
Yarrow can also alleviate irritation with its soothing properties.. People have used yarrow both for its skin benefits above and as a delicious ingredient in certain teas.
Yarrow’s Many Uses
A medicinal herb like this one has plenty of uses. Let’s go over each of them in turn.
As mentioned, yarrow provides astringent benefits and can be used for first-aid. When used in a salve, yarrow can produce great results. It helps support the body’s healing process, overall skin health, and circulatory system.
Natural ingredient-based salves like Green Goo’s First Aid Salve include yarrow and other excellent elements like calendula oil, chickweed extract, and more to help promote the body’s own healing abilities. Cuts, bruises, sunburns, blisters, and chafing are just a few of the injuries that can benefit from this salve with yarrow as an ingredient.
Dry Skin Relief
If yarrow is an astringent, how can it help you if your skin is already dry? The answer lies in why skin becomes dry in the first place.
Your skin naturally produces oil to protect its surface and prevent moisture located deeper in the dermis from evaporating due to dry air. However, if you have excessively oily skin, you might rub away this moisture by accident as you try to get rid of all that oil. Furthermore, overly oily skin can lead to acne, which is drier than average (not to mention irritable and sore).
Yarrow can help remove excess oils and promote balance in your skin’s moisture level. Yarrow is even more effective when used in conjunction with other botanical ingredients like aloe vera that moisturize, nourish, and soothe.
In a nutshell, doing this will remove the excess oil and replenish any moisture that the yarrow gets rid of to truly rebalance your skin for excellent results. You can even add in a hydrating face wash into the mix like Green Goo’s Face Wash, which has calendula-infused olive oil and vitamin E to help nourish your skin while cleaning it!
Many natural salves including Green Goo’s Skin Repair Salve will use yarrow to help improve overall skin appearance by nourishing and moisturizing the skin. Yarrow and other natural ingredients like aloe vera and helichrysum can help protect skin and work to improve scars, wrinkles, puffy eyes, sunburns, and more.
Tattoo and Sore Skin Care
Tattoos do a number on your skin, even if the resulting body art looks fantastic in the end. But during the initial healing process, you may need to apply a topical salve to the raw skin of your tattoo in order to relieve pain and soothe irritation while also helping to protect the skin and keep it moisturized.
Green Goo’s Tattoo Care Salve exemplifies what a tattoo salve should do. Yarrow’s astringent properties paired with other beneficial ingredients in this salve like calendula oil and olive oil provide your tattoo with what it needs to stay nourished and heal properly.
Cold Sore Relief
No one likes cold sores – they’re annoying and seem to last forever! Luckily, Green Goo’s Cold Sore treatment combines powerful healing herbs like yarrow, calendula oil, and sage, and St. John’s Wort to help relieve the tingling, itching, and pain associated with cold sores.
As we mentioned earlier, yarrow is often used for its astringent properties, and those properties play a particularly strong role when it comes to cold sores as yarrow helps to dry the cold sores out so they can close up. Paired with those other powerful herbs, cold sores don’t stand a chance!
Yarrow as a Tea
Aside from directly applying herbal salves to your skin or an injury, you can also benefit from yarrow by consuming it as a tea. This herbal tea is rapidly becoming more popular, although it’s been in existence for thousands of years.
When consumed in this way, there’s some evidence to suggest that yarrow can support the digestive system and help with occasional bloating and stomach upset.
Furthermore, some people report that they experience relaxation and alleviation of emotional tension when they take yarrow tea. This may be because the alkaloids present in the plant can reduce the secretion of a particular hormone that spikes whenever we experience prolonged stress.
How Do You Take Yarrow?
Yarrow is normally safe if you take it as an ingredient in food, as a properly-brewed tea, or when applied topically as an ingredient in a skincare product. You should avoid directly applying yarrow essential oil to your skin unless it is balanced by other natural ingredients and herbs as in salves and creams. When it comes to teas, limit yourself to about three cups of yarrow tea per day to avoid drowsiness.
We recommend that you do a skin patch test (i.e. only put a little bit of the oil on your skin to try it first) before making yarrow a regular part of your skin care routine. With Green Goo, you can also easily wash off any product with some warm water and a washcloth!
Are There Any Side Effects?
If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, you should not use yarrow, since it can affect your menstrual cycle. If you have a bleeding disorder or are currently taking a blood-thinning medication, you should also avoid yarrow, as it can sometimes increase the risk of bleeding paired with these conditions.
Lastly, yarrow can cause allergic reactions if you are already allergic to ragweed and related herbs. If you don’t know if you’re allergic, use yarrow only sparingly at first to gauge your body’s reaction to the plant.
When in doubt, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your primary care provider to ask any questions about adding a new product to your skincare and wellness routine.
Yarrow is one of the most versatile and effective herbal remedies on the planet. With such a long and storied history, it’s no wonder yarrow is making its way into wellness products and routines all over the globe. Add a little bit of yarrow to your tea to help calm and relax you, or use some of the salves mentioned above if you want a great natural remedy that can help with promoting your skin’s ability to heal as well as overall skin health--either way, a little bit of yarrow can go a long way!