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Cardiovascular Herbs: Yarrow for Bleeding & Flow Control

devon 9 Comments

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Yarrow for Bleeding & Flow Control

Cardiovascular Herbs: Yarrow for Bleeding & Flow Control

Devon 9 Comments

Yarrow is an incredible medicinal herb, possessing great benefit to the cardiovascular system by way of addressing bleeding & other blood-related concerns.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Energetics: dry, cool; stimulating, bitter

Therapeutic Actions: anti-inflammatory, astringent, antispasmodic, antimicrobial (bacteriostatic – Wood), diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, hepatic, hypotensive, styptic, vulnerary

To be perfectly honest, I really struggled with the idea of writing a monograph on yarrow.  Not because it isn’t an amazing medicinal herb – it is. Fabled, in fact (more on that later).  But rather, in the context of its action on the cardiovascular system – specifically on blood – I worried that our sometimes Puritanical, squeamish, and germ phobic sensibilities might divert some readers elsewhere.  In popular and some traditional/religious cultures, blood is associated with horror, fear, death, and, of course, sin.  Menses as (alleged) punishment for original sin?  The curse of Eve?

While I do not wish to engage in cultural and religious debate, I do wish for us to come to grips with the important function blood plays for our health and how yarrow can help preserve this vitality.

Yarrow for Bleeding & Flow Control

Yarrow Medicinal Benefits

Yarrow has a great many virtues. Perhaps, chief among them and particularly pertinent to today’s subject is its action on the cardiovascular system by way of blood.  It is known both as a blood mover and blood stopper.

Yarrow is specifically indicated in instances of bright red, profuse bleeding – prepared as a poultice, infusion, or powder, it is a very effective first aid for minor cuts and bad scrapes.  I infuse organic witch hazel extract with yarrow, plantain, and St. John’s wort for a wound spray.  I, personally, found it to be a real “holiday saver” when Thanksgiving preparations went all pear shaped on me after my index finger and the blade of a food processor had an unfortunate run in. This herb also appears to help break down bruising and coagulated blood due to injury.  Many sources indicate this herb for hypertensive and thrombotic conditions, as it acts to lower blood pressure by dilating peripheral vessels.

In terms of women’s health, its implications are relatively clear.  Yarrow can be helpful to attenuate a particularly heavy and/or protracted menses. It appears to be effective for regulating endometrial blood flow and restoring blood supply (as suggested by herbalist Michael Moore).  It is even indicated for post birth bleeding (although should be avoided during pregnancy).  Conversely, yarrow can encourage a delayed (not due to pregnancy) menses.  I believe this dual function of both stimulating menstruation and reducing excessive flow is due to its regulating action on endometrial blood flow.

Yarrow’s natural cooling energetics and anti-inflammatory properties make it a very effective herb for rapid onset fevers with bright red, hot skin.  It helps to stimulate increased blood flow, moving visceral heat to the extremities for cooling.  As a bitter herb with some antimicrobial properties, yarrow is also effective for digestive complaints and recovery from stomach flu or food poisoning.

Yarrow’s actions do not seem to be limited to physical condition.  From a herbal mental health standpoint, it is often suggested for addressing deep emotional wounds, those “cuts” that are deep and slow to heal.  A flower essence created with pink yarrow is said to promote good emotional boundaries and may be a specific for those in healing and hospice related vocations.

Yarrow for Bleeding & Flow Control
Mid winter yarrow

Yarrow Tradition & Folklore

Much is in a name.  Achillea rightfully calls to mind mythical Greek war hero Achilles for whom its Latin name is derived, himself immune to injury (with the exception of his fateful tendons).  It is told that Achilles treated his warriors’ wounds with this herb.  European lore and tradition associated yarrow with everlasting love – a slow growing, deep-rooted love that survives in sometimes harsh conditions. As such, it is an herb often used in wedding arrangements.

Yarrow Identification

Yarrow is a hardy perennial that tends to form dense clumps of feathery, somewhat blue-green leaves.  Foliage and flowers have an aroma that calls to mind chamomile, rosemary, and pine.  It prefers well, drained soils in sunny locations, and even thrives in relatively nutrient poor areas such as rocky outcroppings.  During the summer months, wild varieties are topped by flat-ish umbels of small, creamy white flowers sometimes blushed with just a little bit pink.  I have seen some suggestion that pink yarrow grows wild in Europe.  Cultivated varieties extend the color range to yellow, orange, dark pink, magenta and red tones, although it is the white and pink versions that are most medicinally valuable.  Leaves and flowering stalks are the parts collected and traditionally used for herbal medicine.

Yarrow for Bleeding & Flow Control
Photo credit Petar Milosevic via creativecommons.org

Yarrow Safety Considerations & Dosage

Yarrow is typically considered safe for use except by pregnant women and those with allergies to the Asteraceae (daisy) family. Those taking medication for blood pressure, anticoagulant therapies, or with blood clotting disorders should consult a physician before using this herb; check for contraindications with any medicines you may be on.  Although this herb is indicated for slowing and stopping bleeding, please be smart and seek immediate medical attention for serious wounds.

Yarrow tincture can be administered at the rate of 2-4mls, three times daily.  Teas and infusions can be made with 1-2 teaspoons of the herb and consumed three times daily or more for acute fever symptoms.


FDA Disclosure

I am a trained herbalist with a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, I am not, however, a doctor. Posts in this blog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before using any herbs, check for appropriate dosage, drug interactions, and contraindications. Information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. Please consult your primary care physician regarding your specific health concerns.


Yarrow, Shepherd’s Purse and Nettle Herbal Capsules for Bleeding & Flow Control

Heavy or excessive menstrual flow (as well as post-childbirth bleeding) can be difficult to deal with, while also being physically and emotionally draining.  First, I want to note that excessive menstrual flow is often associated with hormonal imbalance linked to fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometrioses, peri-menopause, and other causes; one should consult a physician for accurate diagnosis of their condition.  That said, even conventional medicine is often slow to correct hormonal imbalances and excessive flow can be incredibly persistent.  Thus, herbs like yarrow can be particularly useful for these matters.

Yarrow for Bleeding & Flow Control

Dried, encapsulated herbs are not my preferred means of administration, but they are, indeed, convenient, portable and a familiar method for most of us for taking medicine.  In this instance, the ease of carrying and taking encapsulated herbs is very appealing.  This “Flow Control” herbal blend is crafted from yarrow, shepherd’s purse, and nettle.  Yarrow is indicated for bright red blood and hemorrhage, while shepherd’s purse is for darker, oozing coagulated blood.  While nettle is not really noted for any styptic tendencies, I have included it for its mineral-laden, “blood building” qualities.  These capsules are also appropriate for instances of bruising and minor injuries.  Please note that while these herbs could theoretically address issues of internal bleeding, blood in vomit or stool can indicate a medical emergency and warrant immediate medical attention.

To create these bleeding and flow control herbal capsules, I grind these herbs to a fine powder in a coffee grinder and pack firmly into “00” capsules using this handy little contraption.  Yes, you could fill each capsule by hand, but that is quite time consuming.  By using this contraption, I can fill 24 capsules at once.

Yarrow for Bleeding & Flow Control

Interested in learning more about common medicinal plants?  Check out my new book The Backyard Herbal Apothecary!

How to Make Herbal Capsules with Yarrow

Yarrow Bleeding & Flow Control Herbal Capsules

A herbal blend to address bleeding and excessive menstrual flow, these capsules contain yarrow, shepherd's purse, and nettle.  For excessive flow concerns, take one capsule 3-5x daily, starting one week before onset of period and continue until flow has stopped.  For bleeding injuries and bruising, take one capsule 3-5x daily while bleeding or bruising is apparent.
Servings: 96 capsules, approximately

Ingredients

  • 0.4 ounce yarrow, leaf and flower dried
  • 0.3 ounce shepherd's purse dried
  • 0.3 ounce stinging nettle dried

Instructions

  • Grind herbs to a powder in a coffee grinder.  Using a capsule machine like this fill "00" capsules like these following instructions in the package.  Alternatively, fill each capsule by hand.  After either method, press each end of the capsule together to complete the closure.  Store in a cool, dark, dry place and take as indicated above.

How to Make Yarrow Herbal Capsules for Bleeding & Flow Control

References:

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Moore, M. (2011). Medicinal plants of the Pacific West. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press.

Wood, M. (2016). Earthwise herbal repertory: traditional western herbalism. Place of publication not identified: North Atlantic Books.

Grow Forage Cook Ferment.  Foraging for Yarrow: Nature’s Medicine

The Practical Herbalist. Yarrow History, Folklore, Myth, and Magic

 

 

Devon

Devon is a writer and author on subjects of holistic and sustainable living. She has a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the American College of Healthcare Sciences, and her first book, The Backyard Herbal Apothecary, was published by Page Street Publishing in Spring 2019. Devon's work outside of NittyGrittyLife.com can be seen at LearningHerbs.com, GrowForageCookFerment.com, AttainableSustainable.net, and in the magazine The Backwoods Home. Devon's second book, The Herbalist's Healing Kitchen, will be published Fall 2019.

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9 Comments

  • Lisa March 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    So sprinkling drops of lavender oil in a baby/toddler’s bath water is a no-no? (And by doing so “diffusing” it all over the house for everyone to be forced to breathe)

    • Devon March 12, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      If your baby is under a year, I just would caution against using essential oils. Furthermore, the heat of the bath water increases absorption, so additional caution is needed there as well — for instance, my quite fully grown husband responds well to clary sage diffused in his office for tension, but a mere three drops in a warm tub makes him feel light headed. May I suggest preparing little muslin “tea bags” or sachets of dried lavender flowers to place in your little one’s bath water? All the great benefits of lavender essential oils, but safer and FARRRRRR less expensive!!!
      As for diffusing into a room — just know your audience. That is to say, make sure nobody that will be exposed has respiratory issues that could be aggravated (rosemary and eucalyptus are notorious for causing asthma sufferers great distress) and limit the exposure — don’t continuously diffuse the essential oils.
      Hope this helps and thank you for stopping by Lisa!

  • Ellen March 12, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks for this, its been difficult to figure out what to do with my white yarrow, which I grew last season and dried. I wanted to create a poltice and apply it to my gum where I recently had a tooth extraction, but wasn’t sure if I should.

    • Devon March 12, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      I think the yarrow poultice on the extraction site will be great! A bit bitter, but very effective for reducing inflammation, bleeding, and infection! It will also increase salivation, which is extremely good for oral health!

  • Georgi November 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Hi,

    Congratulations on the nice article. I am from Bulgaria and we have a wild plant here called Achillea clypeolata which is commonly known as Yellow Yarrow. I believe it only grows on the Balkan peninsula. According to Bulgarian folk medicine, its properties are similar to those of regular Yarrow 🙂

    Best Regards,
    Georgi

  • Alexia Prochnicki June 3, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Hi,
    Thank you so much for the thorough article… I really learned a lot and am looking forward to harvesting all the white yarrow tourists that appeared in my yard this year… A couple of questions for you if you have the time:

    1) would you mix different varieties of yarrow in one preparation?
    2) have you ever used and/or made yarrow essential oil ?
    3) the scientific literature states that yarrow potentiates anti-coagulants and other blood thinners… how is this possible if it is a pro-coagulant used to stop bleeding?

    Thanks again,

    Alexia Prochnicki

    • Devon June 3, 2018 at 5:22 pm

      Thank you, Alexia. Lucky you with a yard full of yarrow! to answer your questions:
      1. I tend to use primarily the white variety of yarrow for medicinal purposes and the pink to a lesser degree. I have not mixed the two, but there is now hard and fast rule against it.
      2. I have used yarrow essential oil a bit in my studies. That being said, I only use essential oils very sparingly. It is fairly expensive and I feel like the whole herb offers so much on its own!
      3. This is a complex and complicated issue. Yarrow does contain coumarins, a which may potentiate anti-coagulants. This is largely theoretical based on constituent profile. I know seems totally contradictory – but this is a case when one has to look at the whole herb as a sum of its many constituents rather that just one. Yes, it contains coumarins, but when the whole herb is used, traditional remedies seem to have a regulating effect on the circulatory system. That being said, yarrow essential oils contains a far greater percentage of coumarins due to the distillation based extraction, so I would avoid its use if one has a greater bleeding risk or is taking anti-coagulants. If one has a bleeding disorder or is taking prescription medication they should always consult with their physician before introducing any herbs.
      I hope this helps to clear up matters!

  • Iuval February 28, 2019 at 9:42 am

    My father has a mild coagulation defect (Von Willebrandt factor disease), he is 93, and is probably bleeding in his GI system, because his hemoglobin is really low (the doctors have eliminated the possibility of hemolysis, and after transfusions, his count goes below 7 within a week). I have read conflicting reports on yarrow. Alexia above mentioned this already, and you were saying the anti-coagulant properties are theoretical, whereas the coagulant properties are empirical. He doesn’t want any invasive procedures, so I want to try yarrow (or some other herb?) What do you think? Should I try giving him yarrow extract?

    • Devon February 28, 2019 at 4:45 pm

      Without knowing further particulars of your father’s particular case, it would be unwise for me to say whether it is safe or not. Due to his age and condition, I must defer to his physician. Now that being said, if his physician gives the go ahead to try yarrow, I would suggest trying it as a tea or in infusion first, as the water based extractions are gentler. I would see how he tolerate tea before moving onto something stronger.

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    About Me

    Meet the Nitty Gritty Mama, Devon!

    I am an herbalist, farmer, cook, and forager. I get my hands dirty and am not afraid to do things the "hard way". Sharing my Nitty Gritty Life with you! Read More

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