While washing dishes a few nights ago I accidentally bounced my best Rachel Ray knife off my index finger. Since my hands were warm from the dishwater, the cut bled like I’d just opened the valve to Old Faithful. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Like all cooks busy hacking and chopping, I’ve nicked myself before. So after a few colorful and creative words, I reached for the bottle of powdered yarrow I keep handy on my spice rack and liberally poured the powder on the wound. The bleeding stopped within 3 minutes. I know because I timed it. No kidding.
Yarrow, or Achillea millefolium, also goes by the suggestive monikers Soldier’s Woundwort , Bloodwort and Staunchweed. Yarrow’s stunning ability to stop the flow of blood is a result of volatile oils that include linalool, camphor, sabinene, and chamazulene, sesquiterpene lctones, flavanoids, alkaloids including achilleine, polyacetylenes, triterpenes, salicylic acid, coumarins, and tannins. They make this plant an often under appreciated but valuable herb for wounds, and one I think ought to be within reach of the cutting board in the kitchen, or at least be a part of every family’s first aid kit.
WARNING! Graphic cut finger photo below! Avert your eyes if you don’t want to see it. My finger is just fine now, by the way, but I wanted to show how dramatically and quickly yarrow stops bleeding.
I keep a little bottle of powdered yarrow above the stove handy on the herb/spice rack for just such slicing and dicing occasions, because to be honest, I have done it before. A few years ago I cut the very tip of my little finger off and that’s when I had a sincere occasion to witness yarrow’s blood staunching, antibacterial and healing properties. I found the little piece of severed skin and by the time I hauled it and my finger to the emergency room, the wound wasn’t even bleeding, so they sent me right home. I kept powdered yarrow on it under a mound of padded bandages for the next three weeks and it grew right over. I wouldn’t recommend taking such dramatic measures to witness the wonders of yarrow’s magic tricks. But it’s a handy trick when it’s needed.
This is three minutes after I applied the yarrow. Impressive, huh?
Yarrow is also antibacterial so I just put a bandage on my finger and went on about my business.
This is two days later.
Frankly, the yarrow plant is not so beautiful from a distance. But if you look closely, it has sweet little blossoms and lacy little leaves extending from its spindly stalk. The little white flowers form an umbrella shaped cluster and the above-ground parts are harvested for use medicinally. The plant can be invasive if its spreading root system is not corralled into a pot or confined to a dedicated part of the garden. But I’m willing to go to the effort to restrain its roving nature because of its stunning medicinal benefits.
Yarrow is worth having around. You never know when you might be chopping broccoli and your husband, viewing the evening news will shout “watch this!” from the other room and your attention will be diverted but your knife will still be chopping.