Yarrow has many uses that are both internal and external. It is used throughout the northern hemisphere, from the Americas to Europe, Russia and China. The Latin name of Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, comes from the hero of Greek mythology Achilles.
Internally, Yarrow is a classic remedy for helping the body deal with fever by promoting sweating. Yarrows characteristic bitter taste is helpful to the digestive system, stimulating the production of digestive juices and liver activity.
Yarrow helps tone the blood vessels, lessening the tendency to bruise easily. It has both anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxing actions which make this herb helpful for menstrual cramps and stomach cramps. It is helpful in treating bacterial infections that are specific to the urinary tract. For these uses, it is more effective if used fresh.
Used externally, Yarrow aids in wound healing, reducing inflammation and controlling infection. Another use is reflected in its old English name nosebleed plant, as Yarrow will initiate the clotting of blood from wounds and so will often stop bleeding. A pinch of chewed leaf or powder can be placed inside the nose to stop a nosebleed. All in all this makes it a great remedy for cuts and scrapes.
Yarrow can be taken internally as fresh leaves and flowers, but both are very bitter. It is traditionally used in herbal medicine as a tea or a tincture, and externally as fresh chewed leaves or as a powder.