What Is Yarrow Oil?
Yarrow oil is extracted from Achillea millefolium, a member of the Compositae plant family. This perennial herb is known throughout Europe, but also grows in Asia and North America. Yarrow can grow up to 3 feet (1 meter) high, and is distinguishable by its feathery and aromatic fern-like leaves and pink-white, dense flower heads.
Yarrow has many nicknames, such as milfoil, nosebleed, common yarrow and thousand leaf. It's also called carpenter's weed, because it's useful for helping treat wounds that you can get from a saw or a blade, and may help stop the bleeding.1
The yarrow plant can also be added to food. The young and tender fresh leaves can be finely chopped and added to soups, salads, meat dishes and stir-fried beans. The Haida people of the Queen Charlotte Islands are also known for drying butter clams on yarrow stalks, which impart a pleasant taste to the shellfish.2
Yarrow oil is extracted from the dried plant via steam distillation. When diffused, it has a sweet, herbaceous and penetrating smell. It also develops a vivid blue color when distilled, which occurs when the chemical chamazulene is released from the plant material during the heating process.
Uses of Yarrow Oil
Almost all the parts of the yarrow can be used therapeutically, either separately or together. The plant works fresh or dried and can be used in teas, poultices, steamed vapor, tinctures, oils and vinegars. However, in aromatherapy today, yarrow is most commonly used as a yarrow oil. You can use it for:
• Skin conditions such as helping to heal inflamed wounds, rashes and burns. It can also promote hair growth.
• Circulatory disorders. It also helps with cystitis, infections and menopausal problems and regulating menstruation in women.
• Digestive problems like cramps, indigestion, constipation, colic and flatulence can be relieved by yarrow oil.
Composition of Yarrow Oil
Yarrow oil's main chemical components are a-pinene, b-pinene, tricyclene, camphene, sabinene, y-terpinene, borneol acetate, limonene, 1,8-cineole, isoartemisia ketone, camphor, borneol and chamazulene.3
Benefits of Yarrow Oil
Yarrow oil has numerous healing effects, which are attributed to its anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, astringent, antispasmodic, astringent, cicatrisant, carminative, digestive, expectorant, hypotensive and tonic properties. Some of its health benefits include:4
• Promotes blood circulation, which can improve circulatory disorders such as varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
• Helps reduce inflammation in the body — It can help eliminate inflammation of any type, including those in your nasal or respiratory tract, brought on by the common cold, the digestive system (such as when you overeat spicy food) and circulatory system, which may be caused by any toxin getting into your bloodstream.
• Provides relief among those with arthritis and rheumatism — It helps prevent uric acid from accumulating in the joints and muscles.
• Helps eliminate toxins from the body through perspiration — It also helps remove excess salt and water from the body, which provides a cooling effect. It may also help with weight management, as urine is approximately 4 percent fat.
How to Make Infused Yarrow Oil
You can purchase yarrow oil online, but a homemade infusion oil is a great alternative at a lower price. Please note that infused oils are different from essential oils. Essential oils are used for fragrances and aromatherapy, and are made directly from the plant by steaming, expression or extraction of the oils.
Infused, or “fixed,” oils involve the use of an oil to extract the herbs from the plant, and are used for application to the skin. Here’s a simple method for making infused yarrow oil from Essential Survival:5
What You Will Need
- 3 to 4 ounces. dried cut/powdered yarrow leaves and flowers, or 4 to 5 ounces. fresh yarrow (you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried calendula if desired)
- 1 to 2 cups organic, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 clean pint jars with tightly fitting lid (Make sure it's dry to prevent mold growth)
- Natural wax paper and rubber band or double boiler
- Cheesecloth and fine mesh sieve
- An opaque airtight jar for storage
1. Fill at least 1/2 to 3/4 of your jar with the yarrow, and then cover with the olive oil to 1/2 inch from the top of the jar.
2. Using a clean knife or chopstick, release all the little air bubbles in the oil and to make sure all the yarrow is submerged. Remember, mold can grow in any air spaces within the jar.
3. Infuse the oil. You can:
• Put the jar in a double boiler and bring it to a low simmer for an hour (make sure to check that the oil isn't getting too hot)
• Put it in a sunny place. Make sure to cover the top of the jar with a natural wax paper, then put the lid on tightly. The wax paper will shield the oil from any harmful chemicals that may be on the inside of the lid. Leave it for two weeks, shaking the bottle occasionally.
4. Strain the oil through a sieve covered in cheesecloth and into a clean, dry jar. Squeeze out the oil from the cheesecloth. If you used fresh yarrow, cover the jar tightly after straining and let stand for a few days. Check if any water has settled in the bottom of the jar. If so, pour off the oil and discard the water, and leave it for another day.
If more water appears in the bottom, continue pouring it back and forth, discarding the water, until no more remains. If there is any water or plant material left in the oil, it will be susceptible to spoiling.
5. Store the oil in an opaque airtight jar and put in a cool dark place. It will keep for many months.
How Does Yarrow Oil Work?
Yarrow oil works best when used in vapor therapy. Simply add a few drops to a diffuser or vaporizer, or add a few drops to your handkerchief, and inhale its fragrance. Yarrow oil can also be added to your bathwater or added to a massage oil. You can also use yarrow oil for chest rubs, and combines well with hyssop, eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint oils.6
Is Yarrow Oil Safe?
Yarrow oil may have neurotoxic effects,7 so I do not advise using it for extended periods of time. If applying it topically, make sure to dilute it with a safe carrier oil. I also recommend doing a skin patch test to ensure that you do not have any allergies to this oil. Pregnant women, epileptics, and very young children should also refrain from using yarrow oil. I also recommend consulting your health care practitioner before taking this oil orally.
Side Effects of Yarrow Oil
If used in high dosages for extended periods of time, yarrow oil may result in headaches and skin irritation. Use this oil in moderation, and if you notice any adverse reactions, stop using it immediately.