Yarrow, Achillea millefollium, is a member of the sunflower family found in the wild throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It had segmented leaves (millefollium means “a thousand leaves”) and clusters of daisy-like whitish flowers.
Its genus name, Achillea, comes from a Greek myth that yarrow was given to Achilles by the centaur Chiron. Achilles painted himself with a yarrow paste to make himself invulnerable to arrows, everywhere on his body except his heel. Yarrow was found along with other medicinal herbs in the Neanderthal burial site in Iraq which dates from around 60,000 BC.
Yarrow has been used as a natural medicine for centuries. It has astringent, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Since it is natural antimicrobial properties help prevent wound infections, yarrow is often found in healing salves and ointments. A natural chemical called achilleine, present in yarrow helps stop bleeding and decreases pain.
Yarrow displays anti-inflammatory properties which makes it a great topical herb for inflammatory skin problems like eczema. Its astringent properties help strengthen skin tone and can be used for problem skin, oily skin, large pores, and wrinkles. Yarrow has also been and as a sedative to relieve anxiety or insomnia.
Herbalists have used yarrow to help alleviate the symptoms of mastitis, a breast infection that can occur when breastfeeding. Yarrow poultices may also provide healing and pain relief from sore, cracked nipples. (Of course, always check with your health practitioner before using herbal medicine to treat any infection.)