by Rosalee de la Foret
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is a beautiful and incredibly useful plant that grows practically everywhere, and is a great natural insect repellent. I tell hikers and other avid outdoors people that if they only knew one plant, yarrow should be it.
My first introduction to yarrow was quite dramatic. While out camping, a friend sliced open her hand quite deeply and it started to profusely flow with blood. After sitting her down and raising her hand above her heart, yarrow was picked fresh and place on the wound. Within seconds it stopped bleeding.
Later at the emergency room the doctor was at first annoyed with the “dirty” plant material that was place in the wound, but then amazed as he realized how deep the cut was, and how very little blood there was.
Yarrow is another magical herb that can not only stop bleeding almost instantly, but can also increase circulation when taken internally or used externally to promote blood flow in bruises or varicose veins.
Yarrow’s healing abilities have been known for an immeasurable amount of time and have even been made famous in our myths of Achilles.
For yarrow, also named Achillea, is the magic potion said to have protected Achilles so well. Also called woundwort and other similarly devised names, yarrow has been used on battlefields to heal soldiers’ wounds as far back as we have sad tales of war.
Yarrow grows outside my front door, but during the dormant season I like to keep enough dried on hand for whatever emergencies may arise. It can be powdered and sprinkled on wounds, not only to stop bleeding but also to dull pain, and as an antiseptic herb to prevent infection.
Yarrow’s abilities are not limited to wounds however. Taken internally it can open pores for cleansing and to release a fever. Yarrow is frequently used as a tea at the first sign of a cold or flu. The tincture or tea can be used for bladder infections. Yarrow is anti-microbial, astringent, anodyne, and reduces inflammation.
Last summer I was collecting yarrow leaves and flowers to make an infused oil and tincture. When I brought the stalks home I was amazed at the lack of insects on the plants. It truly is a natural insect repellent. Usually, after wildcrafting, I set the plants outside to “de-bug”. But there wasn’t a single bug there. And so I came up with this insect repellant that is not only effective but also smells great!
Yarrow Natural Insect Repellent
1. Gather enough yarrow leaves and flowers to fit snugly in a jar. Chop them up and put them in the jar.
2. Pour in vodka to the top of the jar.
3. Shake it every day for a first week.
4. Strain after 2 to 6 weeks.
4. Pour desired amount into a spray bottle and add catnip and lavender essential oils.
It's THAT simple to make a natural insect repellent!