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Shortread Health

Hackney Herbal: The wonders of Yarrow


Words by Alicja McCarthy

Photos by Jake Kenny

The perfect herb for plant hunters

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a great foraging herb. One of the lesser-known wildflowers, it is a natural first aider and healer of flu symptoms. Nat Mady tells us all about this wild herb and why it is a best friend to those prone to accidents. 

“Yarrow helps to stem blood-flow by accelerating blood clotting. I’ve used it on small cuts and grazes by simply rubbing the wound with the leaves and flowers.”

Achilles' secret weapon

Greek mythology has it that Yarrow was the great Achilles’ secret weapon. Legends vary but it is said that he painted himself head to toe with a potion of ground up yarrow stalks, leaves and flowers before commencing battle. This ritual had victorious results on numerous occasions, the one time he missed a bit, right on his heel, he was shot in the ankle and killed. 

Our advice, never commence battle without yarrow!

Get harvesting in July

July is a good month to start foraging Yarrow. It grows in grassy areas and can be found around housing developments, any green open spaces and roadsides. Identifying it is quite simple and because it grows in abundance, it is sometimes easier to find than a plaster. The plant is quite sturdy and can grow quite tall; its flowers grow daintily in clusters with little creamy white petals. The herb can keep flowering well into late autumn, so harvesting and drying is a good option for the cold and flu season.

Fighting flu with yarrow

The wildflower alleviates colds and flu symptoms as it has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Hackney Herbal produce teas for such ailments and suggest a blend of yarrow, sage, thyme, echinacea and peppermint to nip pesky colds in the bud. Bathing young infants in this tonic also works as it is less powerful when diluted and absorbed through very young skin. Yarrow is quite literally everyone’s best friend for those feeling under the weather or a little clumsy. And best of all, it’s free!