Monday, February 27, 2012


Yarrow is certainly becoming my favorite medicinal herb this winter though basil has to remain my all around favorite.  This pretty plant has saved me lots of pain and money in the last 6 months.
Not from my yard, but a picture of yarrow
Yarrow is one of those “wildflower” type plants you probably have seen growing in a field.  In our woods we have some growing wild and I have some in our flower areas as well.  It comes up like a weed.

Last year I gathered some to dry and some to make a tincture after reading that it could be used to ward off colds and such, similar to  Echinacea.   I also have Echinacea but I’m not willing yet to dig my root (which is better for medicinal use) as I love the flower and have yet to get a clump of it growing to the point of wanting to divide it.  Plus for me anyway, commercial Echinacea has never (at least in recent years) done the trick.

To dry the Yarrow I found the best way was to cut off the flower and fern like leafs and place them in dry paper bag for a few weeks to dry them out.  I left the bags on top of my hutch in the dining room of my house.  Once the plan was all dry I simply pulled off all the flowers and leafs and discarded any woody stem material.

For my first batch of Yarrow tincture I actually used fresh plants.  To make any tincture you use these same basic steps and can use dry or fresh herbs.  First tear up your Yarrow into small pieces and fill a mason jar with as much herb as you want to tincture (not more than ¾ full.)  Pour vodka over the herbs making sure that all the herbs are covered by at least an inch.  You can also use glycerin or apple cider but it will not be as strong and I have never tried this.  Now comes the easy part, just let it set and soak in the herb for at least 3 weeks.  Give it a shake every day or two and add more vodka if it is being absorbed and herb is exposed above the liquid line.  Strain after 3 weeks or longer.   I think I’ve only left them them 4-5 weeks but you can even leave longer.  Once you have the tincture strained you can bottle it or put it into another jar and store in a cool dark place.  

We like to store at least the portion we’re going to be using in nice glass bottles with droppers.   This makes it easy to add to your tea or juice when you need to take it.  If I make a large quantity I’ll store the rest either in a jar or larger bottle and refill my dropper container as necessary.  We order our bottles from Specialty Bottle Company.  Many people chose the brown ones but I just love the blue color so I went for those. 

The day before Thanksgiving I had an ear infection coming and of course being the holiday there was no way I could get to the Doctor till 5 days later on Monday.  Last summer I had an ear infection (first one since I was a kid as far as I recall) and I did end up having to go to the doctor and needed 3 courses of antibiotics to clear it up.   This made a perfect opportunity to try my Yarrow tincture.
I took two droppers from Wednesday to Friday morning and night and my ear infection was gone!  I was amazed!  

Of course there are many resources out there for making tinctures and using herbs medicinally.  Bulk Herb Store has some great resources online including many free U-tube videos on how to make various things.  I also order most things I don't grow from them and have found them reasonable.  Here is one of their videos showing how to make a tincture, in this case a "cramp" tincture.  They also have two "making herbs simple" video's that are helpful for beginners.  You can download them (for fee) or purchase the DVD. 

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