Dr. Corson's Yarrow Salve Recipe

Yarrow is one of my favorite medicinal plants.  My teacher, Patsy Clark, of Bittersweet Cultural Center (Rochester, IN) taught me to make a very effective salve for cuts, abrasions, and minor burns. It is great for paper-cuts, quickly taking the pain away, and preventing infection.

This salve is antibacterial, analgesic, and anti-styptic (stops bleeding).  Therefore, it is my #1 choice for all abrasions, cutting down the pain dramatically within 5 to 10 minutes and minimizing chances of infection. There are multiple antibacterial compounds in this aromatic lawn and garden perennial, which have been named (see Kathy Keville’s excellent book, The Encyclopedia of Medicinal and Culinary Herbs).

My husband and I are both physicians, and this is what we and all our children reach for first, for scrapes, lacerations, burns, and paper-cuts.

To make yarrow salve:

1. Wild, white yarrow (not the golden yarrow or other hybrid colors)

Gather the leaves (flowers in full bloom can also be used), and dry in the shade or indoors (never in sunlight, which degrades the chemistry once it is separated from the earth). Dry for minimum of 5-7 days, longer is fine. Store in clean paper bags (not plastic, as this will promote growth of fungi, with any stored herb)

2. Melt 4 cups of olive oil and 1/2 cup of pure beeswax on a stovetop, or if funds are tight 4 cups of Crisco instead (no need for the beeswax to solidify it at room temperature).; smaller batches are simply scaled down from these proportions, using about a 1/8 ratio of beeswax to olive oil

3. Add as much dried yarrow leaf (and flowers if included) as you can immerse in the oil, stirring gently with a wooden spoon on simmer. Avoid "french-frying" or blackening or browning of the leaves. Simmer 15-20 minutes on low, stirring. The medicinal aroma will be prominent, and the color of the oil will turn green or golden green.

4. Cool approximately 15 minutes to allow safer handling. Strain through a fine metal-screen sieve into a 4-cup glass measure, then pour from that into clean, small glass jars, e.g. baby food or tiny jelly jars.

5. LABEL each jar with "yarrow salve" (Achillea millefolium), and the date. Store in refrigerator. Will last for over a year if refrigerated. These make great gifts for friends and family.

6. Use liberally with a band-aid or other sterile dressing, to cover the wound, keeping in the salve and keeping clothes protected from the oil. I have had excellent success even with a nasty 2nd degree burn of the palm of the hand, healing with no scarring. A low dose of Codeine was only needed for the first day, because the yarrow’s analgesic properties were so helpful, being applied 3 times a day until healed.