Woundwort: the generic name for yarrow, achillea, was granted this herb in honor of the Greek warrior-god, Achilles, who used this herb to stop the bleeding wounds of his soldiers after using the leaves successfully on himself. It has been used extensively since Achilles’ time to stop bleeding in battle wounds and has earned the folk names: soldier’s woundwart, knight milfoil, staunchweed, and herbe militaris. Yarrow is also used for the treatment of colds and flues.

Yarrow roots have been used by many Indian tribes as a local anesthetic. Scrubbed and crushed to a pulp, this medicinal mash is applied to wounds to dull the pain.
Washes made from boiled leaves and stems are also considered effective for bathing injuries. Yarrow acts as a coagulant to help stop bleeding. A healing paste can also be made by crushing the entire plant. The leaves are an aide in treating rashes, bites, inflammations, infections…you name it. A tea made from the leaves is boiled and drunk for a variety of ailments.

Yarrow is a powerful herb with many uses. An ointment for wounds made by blending the leaves with lard provides an old fashioned antiseptic/anesthetic salve. Yarrow has also been relied on as a contraceptive–don’t go there. We have better options these days.

Native Americans shared their vast storehouse of knowledge regarding herbal treatments with early colonists who used these remedies in combination with those lauded cures they brought with them from the British Isles and Europe.

*Common wild yarrow is the white variety pictured above.

Several of my favorite medicinal herbal/plant books are: Field Guide To Medicinal Wild Plants by Bradford Angier, published back in the 1970's and given to me by my beloved late grandmother. Mr. Angier's work is brilliant and so useful. And, A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve, a two volume in-depth resource published in the early 20th century, so it's not really very modern, but excellent.

I used woundwart/yarrow in American historical romance Enemy of the King and light paranormal/historical Daughter of the Wind.

For more on my work please visit: www.bethtrissel.com


  1. Beth Caudill // September 7, 2009 at 2:11 PM  

    Great post, Beth. I used Yarrow in a healing paste I used for my next story coming out. My werewolf healer made her own paste out of a couple of different things.

  2. Beth Trissel // September 7, 2009 at 2:38 PM  

    Thanks. I've used it too. Great stuff.

  3. Mary Ricksen // September 7, 2009 at 3:06 PM  

    I wouldn't mind some of that. You could add other stuff to make it smell nice? What else would you put in a paste of yarrow and lard?

  4. Scarlet Pumpernickel // September 7, 2009 at 3:44 PM  

    Isn't it amazing all the natural cures that our Native American forebearers used? My grandmother was 1/4 Creek. She taught me to make teething beads for my babies. They worked wonders!

  5. Beth Trissel // September 7, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

    I guess I'd add some ground up leaves & berries from the spicebush if I were out gleaning for something to sweeten my woundwort balm. Or mix in some sassafras, also has curative properties. Both trees and shrubs are commonly found in the Eastern Woodlands. That's if we're using wild plants. Cultivated lavender can't be beat for sweetness.

  6. Toni V.S. // September 7, 2009 at 5:18 PM  

    I've seen this herb many times during my Georgia backroads wanderings but always thought it was wild carrot. Thanks for setting me straight!

  7. Beth Caudill // September 7, 2009 at 8:44 PM  

    In my story, I mixed it will Aloe, Purple Coneflower and added lavender for scent. I made it up from the different properties I found in a Herb book that I thought would make a good healing paste to put on wounds.

  8. Beth Trissel // September 7, 2009 at 10:10 PM  

    Sounds good to me, Beth. :)

  9. Mary Marvella // September 7, 2009 at 10:29 PM  

    Fascinating, as usual! You know a lot about that stuff!

  10. Beth Trissel // September 8, 2009 at 7:45 AM  

    Thanks Mary. I love studying herbal lore and medicinal uses of herbs and native plants. Very useful stuff too. I also grow a lot of herbs but want to expand my collection.

  11. Helen Hardt // September 8, 2009 at 11:50 AM  

    Herbs are so interesting. Thanks for sharing, Beth!

  12. Pamela Varnado // September 8, 2009 at 11:58 AM  

    It's amazing how nature has everything we need to care for ourselves, and without the nasty side effects.

  13. Judy // September 8, 2009 at 1:45 PM  

    How interesting, Beth. I love learning about uses of different plants...

  14. Barbara Monajem // September 8, 2009 at 11:56 PM  

    Thank you, Beth! I have used yarrow as a tea, but I didn't know it had so many other uses.

  15. Joanne // September 11, 2009 at 8:41 PM  

    Interesting post, Beth. I referenced some poisonous herbs the Romany used in my Tudor era books. In my research, I was afraid the internet police might come after me, as some herbs were quite poisonous!