Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Survival Foraging: Yarrow, A Medicinal Essential

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)

The Yarrow plant has an interesting history. The name Achillea is quoted in many texts as having come from the the battle of Troy where Achilles used it as a potent wound healer to stop the bleeding of his soldiers. The yellow stems were used by Druids to divine seasonal weather and the Chinese used them for fortune telling. Today it's value is mostly for treating colds and urinary infections.

 Identifying The Plant

Yarrow is most identifiable by it's feathery, fern-like leaves. The stems typically have a wooliness to them as well. The whole plant is very fragrant and infusions taste a little like drinking perfume. It blooms in May and throughout the summer, producing a flat-top of flowers. It grows in meadow areas throughout the northern hemisphere with it's population increasing density in the west.

Eating Yarrow

Due to it's bitter, fragrant flavor it is not generally eaten.

Medicinally

Flowers, harvested during the summer and autumn, can be made into an infusion* and drank for respiratory distress or it can be used as an astringent for eczema. A steam inhalant* of the flowers can be used for hay-fever or mild asthma. Essential oil* made from the flowers can be used to massage inflamed joints. This works best if you dilute the oil (put 5-10 drops into 25ml St. John's wort oil).

The leaves, harvested throughout the season, can be inserted into the nose to stop nosebleeds but this can also start a nosebleed as well so use caution. They can also be used in a poultice* once they are washed to treat fresh wounds.

The aerial parts, harvested during flowering, can be used in an infusion* to reduce fevers or as a digestive assistant. A tincture* can be used for urinary disorders or menstrual problems. It is also prescribed for cardiovascular complaints. A compress* can be used to sooth varicose veins.

Warning: 

On some occasions yarrow has been know to cause skin irritation to those with sensitive skin. Also large, prolonged doses should be avoided in general but especially in pregnant women because it stimulates the uterus.

Interesting Uses:

Use one small leaf to speed up your compost's breakdown time.

Yarrow helps to increase other plants' disease defenses.

Use it to increase the medicinal properties of other herbs.

Use it to help with a hangover: a mix of yarrow and elderflower tea will help get rid of pesky toxins making you feel awful.

Use it to get rid of oily skin:

Preparation definitions

*Tincture - Process of steeping the dried or fresh herbs in a 25% mixture of alcohol and water. Can be stored for up to two years.
*Poultice - The whole plant is steeped and then applied in a compress to the affected area of skin. Should be prepared fresh with each application.
*Infusion - Preparation similar to making traditional tea where the leaves or flowers are put to steep in boiled water. Should be made fresh for each dose.
*Steam Inhalant - place 1-2 tbsp dried herb in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Lean over bowl with towel over head and inhale for as long as possible or mixture cools. Try not to go into cold for thirty minutes afterward. Should be made fresh for each dose.
*Essential Oil - most essential oils can be purchased at a natural food store. To make your own, put 250g of dried herbs or 750g of fresh herbs into 500ml of sunflower oil into a bowl. Place this bowl over a pot of boiling water for about three hours. Then pour into jelly bag or cheesecloth fitted to a wine press and strain mixture into a container. Pour this mixture into a clean, airtight storage bottle.
*Compress - a cloth soaked in infusion

Attention Use At Your Own Risk

I am not medically trained in anyway. I am simply a student. I read and experiment with ancient herbal techniques. I am simply passing on the knowledge I have gained from studding many texts on the subject and I am in no way responsible for anything you do with this information. For a listing on the books that I have compiled knowledge from visit: http://www.authorsarafhathaway.com/#!saras-survival-stuff/c1mzf

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Sara F. Hathaway
Sara F. Hathaway is the author of the The Changing Earth Series: Day After Disaster and Without Land. She also hosts The Changing Earth Podcast which blends her fictional stories with educational survival tips. Sara grew up in the country where she developed a profound interest in the natural world around her. After graduating with honors from The California State University of Sacramento with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, she launched into a career in business management. In her fictional novels her research and experience with survival techniques and forgotten life-sustaining methods of the generations past come to the forefront in a action packed adventures. She has used her background in business management to pave new roads for fictional authors to follow and she delights in helping other achieve the same success. She currently lives with her husband and two sons in California where she is at work on the sequel to her first two novels. For more information and a free copy of “The Go-Bag Essentials” featuring everything you need to have to leave your home in a disaster visit: www.authorsarafhathaway.com
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