Yarrow, or Achillea millefolium, is a flowering plant generally regarded as a weed, although possessing a relatively long medicinal history. The name is thought to derive from its use by ancient Greek soldiers to stop their wounds bleeding, and specifically by Achilles, Greece's legendary warrior. For this reason it's also called staunchweed, soldier's woundwort and nosebleed plant.
Yarrow is traditionally believed to have astringent and stimulant properties, to encourage sweating, and generally to improve condition. It contains salicylic acid, known since ancient times as an anti-inflammatory to reduce fevers and ease aches and pains; asparagine which is required for brain development and functioning, and flavonoids, which can increase saliva and stomach acid to assist digestion.
Preliminary studies on flavonoids suggest they may also be active against bacteria, fungi, viruses, microbes, allergens, oxidation and inflammations. Yarrow may also help to relieve cramps in the uterus and stomach.
Yarrow today is available as a fresh or dried herb, which can be used in teas, tinctures, essential oils or liquid extracts, as well as in tablets or capsules as a dietary supplement, but it was once eaten as a vegetable. The young leaves were cooked like spinach, or made into a soup.
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