Yarrow or common yarrow is a flowering plant from the Asteraceae family. Its official (binomial) name is Achillea millefolium, and it is also known as the old man's pepper, soldier's woundwort, and thousand seals. Achillea millefolium is an herbaceous, perennial plant that can easily reach 1 meter in height. The Yarrow species has a sweet scent often described as similar to chrysanthemums. Nonetheless, its aroma is so intense and specific that it may be quite unsettling to some people.
The genus name Achillea comes from the name of the mythical Greek warrior Achilles, who is said to have carried yarrow with his soldiers to treat combat wounds. Legends say that warriors used to apply yarrow to their battle wounds to stop bleeding and to cope with the pain.
“Millefolium” means a thousand leaves and it denotes the featherlike leaves of the yarrow, which are very delicate and minutely divided. Since old times, people in England and France have been using yarrow for various alignments, mostly to treat wounds and aches. And that is why the plant was very popular among soldiers and it was commonly known as 'herba militaris', nose bleed, death flower, and soldier (Wikipedia.com).
In Chines medicine, the common yarrow plant is said to represent the balance of Ying and Yang. Some legends say that the herb was used in witchcraft to make love potions. Yarrow is considered to bring good luck in Chinese traditions.
The common yarrow plant was highly treasured by folk medicine. In the past, many healers would call yarrow the "life medicine". People believed that it has magical properties and it can help diseases that were considered incurable.
In folk medicine, a wreath made from yarrow stalks would be placed on the head of those suffering from fever. Then, the sick person would be taken to a nearby river. According to the belief, just as the water carries away the wreath, so must the disease be washed away.
Nowadays, common uses of yarrow include the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, loss of appetite, inflammation, menstrual problems, wounds, and bleeding. The plant is also used to treat burns, bronchitis, kidney problems, diarrhea, and vomiting.