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Natural Beauty with Yarrow

Janice Cox, Author Natural Beauty from the Garden

Yarrow is a popular perennial herb plant that can be found in many gardens, mine included.  It is known as a powerful “healing” herb.  It is also a fantastic landscape plant, culinary ingredient and can be a key ingredient in anti-aging and healing body care products. 

I have my yarrow planted along my driveway.  I call it my “protector” plant as it keeps deer and rabbits out of my yard.  They do not like the scent or bitter tasting leaves.  It also helps as a ground cover keeping weeds out and my yard in bloom.  Yarrow comes in a wide range of colors from creamy white to dark red.  It is also will attract birds and pollinators to your yard helping all of your plants bloom and produce more. 

Yarrow has anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory properties.  It is cooling, soothing, and healing when used in skin care products.  A simple tea or infusion of fresh flowers and leaves makes a calming product for troubled skin, insect bits or a bad sunburn.  Simply apply to your skin using a spray bottle or cotton pad. Yarrow in the bath is especially refreshing and will also boost your circulation.  The most popular use of yarrow is as a key ingredient in healing skin balms and lotions.  Yarrow leaves are powerful and have been used to stop bleeding in cuts and scrapes and also help the healing process.  Legend has it that Achilles the great warrior used yarrow leaves to heal his soldiers wounds after battle.  This may also be the reason the plant genus is called “Achille” 

Yarrow can also be used in the kitchen when making bitters, teas, salads, and salts.  You can infuse just about everything from oils, butters, honey and vinegar with the bitter peppery leaves and adding a bit of citrus or sugar will help enhance yarrows strong flavor.  You only need a few leaves as the taste can be overpowering to dishes.  Also when infusing in oils always use dried yarrow so you do not introduce any extra moisture, which can spoil your product. 

Yarrow is an especially beautiful dried flower and dries very quickly and easily.  Pick bunches not larger than a quarter in diameter and let them air dry in vases or hanging from drying racks.  If you are seed saving you may want to dry your bunches in paper sacks to help with collection and keep them clean (not dust or bugs). 

Here are a few recipes for you to try at home: 

Yarrow Cucumber Cleanser 

Cucumber is naturally cleansing and calming to your skin.  When you combine it with fresh yarrow flowers you have a mild cleanser that can be used in place of soap for all skin types.  

Yield: 4 ounces 

1 whole cucumber 

1 Tablespoon fresh yarrow flowers and leaves or 1 /2 Tablespoon dried 

1 /2 cup water 

1 teaspoon honey 

In a blender of food processor combine all ingredients and process on high until you have a well blended mixture.  To use: Massage into your skin and let sit for a few seconds up to a minute.  Then rinse with warm water followed by cool water rinse and pat your skin dry.  Store any leftover cleanser in the refridgerator. 

Yarrow Bath Salts 

Yarrow makes a relaxing bath.  Fill a muslin tea bag with fresh flower heads and some leaves and toss in your tub as it fills or wrap inside a cotton wash cloth and use as a “scrub” sack in the shower.  Combined with popular bath minerals it makes for a soothing soak that will also boost your circulation. 

1 Tablespoon fresh yarrow leaves and flowers 

1 /2 cup epsom salts 

1 /2 cup baking soda 

1 /4 cup sea salt 

Yield: 10 ounces 

Mix together all ingredients and spoon into a cotton sack or onto a cotton wash cloth and secure with a rubber band.  To use: Toss in a warm tub.  Soak for 20 minutes. 

Yarrow Flower Salt 

Making herbal salt is a simple process with benefits.  Yarrow  supports digestion and also helps reduce bloating.  You can create a simple salt that can be used in cooking.  Just use care as a little bit will go a long way.  Yarrow adds a sweet bitter flavor to the salt. 

1 Tablespoon Sea Salt 

1 /2 Tablespoon fresh yarrow flowers 

Grind together the yarrow and salt  until fine and spread on a clean tray or cookie sheet to dry.  You may also use dried yarrow and skip the drying step. To use:  Use as a finishing salt on your dishes. 

For more recipes featuring yarrow and other useful plants check out my books. Also The International Herb Association has an “Herb of the Year” book featuring Yarrow this year. You can order on their website.


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