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An ounce of Yarrow sewed up in flannel and placed under the pillow before going to bed, having repeated the following words, brought a vision of the future husband or wife:
'Thou pretty herb of Venus' tree,
Thy true name it is Yarrow;
Now who my bosom friend must be,
Pray tell thou me to-morrow.'
---(Halliwell's Popular Rhymes, etc.)
It has been employed as snuff, and is also called Old Man's Pepper, on account of the pungency of its foliage. Both flowers and leaves have a bitterish, astringent, pungent taste.
In the seventeenth century it was an ingredient of salads.
---Parts Used---The whole plant, stems, leaves and flowers, collected in the wild state, in August, when in flower.
---Constituents---A dark green, volatile oil, a peculiar principle, achillein, and achilleic acid, which is said to be identical with aconitic acid, also resin, tannin, gum and earthy ash, consisting of nitrates, phosphates and chlorides of potash and lime.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Diaphoretic, astringent, tonic, stimulant and mild aromatic.
Yarrow Tea is a good remedy for severe colds, being most useful in the commencement of fevers, and in cases of obstructed perspiration. The infusion is made with 1 OZ. of dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water, drunk warm, in wineglassful doses. It may be sweetened with sugar, honey or treacle, adding a little Cayenne Pepper, and to each dose a teaspoonful of Composition Essence. It opens the pores freely and purifies the blood, and is recommended in the early stages of children's colds, and in measles and other eruptive diseases.
A decoction of the whole plant is employed for bleeding piles, and is good for kidney disorders. It has the reputation also of being a preventative of baldness, if the head be washed with it.
---Preparations---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. An ointment made by the Highlanders of Scotland of the fresh herb is good for piles, and is also considered good against the scab in sheep.
An essential oil has been extracted from the flowers, but is not now used.
Linnaeus recommended the bruised herb, fresh, as an excellent vulnerary and styptic. It is employed in Norway for the cure of rheumatism, and the fresh leaves chewed are said to cure toothache.
In Sweden it is called 'Field Hop' and has been used in the manufacture of beer. Linnaeus considered beer thus brewed more intoxicating than when hops were used.
It is said to have a similar use in Africa.
Culpepper spoke of Yarrow as a profitable herb in cramps, and Parkinson recommends a decoction to be drunk warm for ague.
The medicinal values of the Yarrow and the Sneezewort (A. millefolium and A. ptarmica), once famous in physic, were discarded officially in 1781.
Woolly Yellow Yarrow (A. tomentosa) is very rare, and a doubtful native; its leaves are divided and woolly, the flowers bright yellow.