Last week I shared an herbal monograph for yarrow, one of my favorite little garden plants. The pollinators love it and so do I! I grow more of it each year, it seems, and I can only imagine that that will continue to be true.
One of things I mentioned in the yarrow monograph was that yarrow has astringent qualities that make it very useful for helping to stop bleeding or weepy skin issues. There are a few ways that you can use yarrow to do this. You can make a poultice with the fresh plant or dried plant material. You can use a strong decoction as a wash or compress. I have even had success with using the hydrosol for minor wounds. But one of the most popular traditional ways to use yarrow to help stop bleeding is to make a styptic powder that can be applied directly to the wound.
I keep a tin of yarrow styptic powder in my first aid kit, but if I can use whole leaves instead, I do prefer them. They’re easier to apply and remove from injured skin and they are often more readily available. Sometimes I’m away from my garden, though, and that’s when the powder can be especially useful.
To make the powder, you’ll need to dry some freshly picked yarrow leaves and flowers. Try to harvest them in late spring when they’re looking especially vibrant and happy. Rinse them clean, then allow them to dry in a clean spot with good air flow. Once completely dry, use a mortar and pestle to grind the leaves into a fine powder. Remove any of the tough, fibrous parts of the stem that remain by sifting the plant material through a fine mesh sieve like a kitchen strainer or tea ball. You can also use a coffee grinder that has been set aside for use only with herbs to grind the leaves more quickly, but I love the intention and texture that using a mortar and pestle gives me!
Once the leaves are powdered, they can be stored in a clean tin or jar and labeled. You can also mix in powdered lavender buds or rose or calendula petals to help soothe the skin even more, but yarrow powder will be quite effective on its own if you don’t have anything else on hand.
To use the powder, dab a bit onto a rinsed clean wound and cover the area with a clean cloth. It’s best to wash the yarrow powder off as soon as possible because, as you can imagine, small particles and wounds are not the best of friends. But in the moment, powdered yarrow can be very helpful, especially when you’re between the field and a place where you can more thoroughly address the issue. (Note: don’t use powdered yarrow for larger or puncture wounds. Try to stick with whole leaves or a compress or wash in such cases, in addition to whatever other first aid measures are necessary.)
Did you know that some people even include cayenne powder in their styptic powders? While effective, cayenne powder can sting. I much prefer the gentle, pain-relieving qualities of yarrow instead.
Do you make styptic powders for your herbal first aid kit? What do you like to include in yours? I’d love to hear! Tell me about it in the comments section at the bottom of this page.