Yarrow supports sensory processing issues by helping those with hypersensitivity better discern/sort through the nature of sensory input coming in to prevent overwhelm, and by enhancing sensory perception for the hyposensitive.
I have so much to say about yarrow, and I have found that plants really make it impossible to stay “on-topic” since they always defy the boxes we try to put them in. A plant this versatile can be worked with for all sorts of physical and emotional issues, so keep in mind that here I will mainly just be addressing a small portion of what it has to offer as a support for neurodivergent folks.
If you are going to remember one thing about yarrow, perhaps it should be that it embodies opposites. It may seem unlikely that a person who is hypersensitive could benefit from the same plant that a person who is hyposensitive would. I mean, a person who is feeling too much is in a very different place than someone who is feeling too little.
And yet…yarrow is helpful for both. When I first read about yarrow’s ability to enhance the senses I was wary. Even though I also read that it provides energetic protection and seals energetic holes in the body, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to feel any more than I already do.
But I eventually gave in and made myself a strong cup of tea on a quiet evening when I wasn’t at much risk of getting overwhelmed by sensory input.
And then I got it. What yarrow did for me was help me discern the input I was receiving. To be able to sort through it better. That was the enhancement. You could also think of that as a filter. Rather than just giving me more input to process, the ability to discern what was coming at me actually prevented overwhelm. When you have too many things thrown at you at once, the tendency is to just duck and cover in case anything flying towards you is actually dangerous.
But if you are able to discern what is actually a threat and what is completely harmless, you stay calmer. You hold your ground. You open up more without feeling knocked over by every little thing coming your way. In the book Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants, Scott Kloos advises: “If you feel overwhelmed when entering a room full of people, take small doses of yarrow leaf and flower tincture to strengthen and firm your energetic boundaries.”
I do agree with this idea of yarrow as a form of energetic protection. I have come to think of yarrow as my ‘sunshine shield,’ and I am not the only one to think of it as a sunny plant. The flowers are yellow/orange in their center, it blooms right around the summer solstice, and you will feel noticeably warmer when you drink it. For these reasons, it is sometimes used as a substitute for St. John’s Wort in blends, as St. John’s Wort should not be taken by anyone who is taking pharmaceutical drugs.
The warming aspect of it can be paradoxically cooling as well, in that it can ultimately break a fever by helping the body to release heat. If you drink it on it’s own and it is very fresh, it may feel quite warm and strong. For my daily tea, I like to balance the intensity out by mixing it with herbs that are cooling.
After dabbling with different combinations for a while, I finally landed on a blend I call “SensitiviTEA” that includes selfheal and hawthorn mixed with yarrow. These three herbs work synergistically and are especially suitable for those of us on the hypersensitive side, offering energetic protection and helping the body dial back overreactive responses. All three of these herbs also calm the heart and can be useful to those prone to palpitations.
But what about those who are on the hyposensitive side and need support in feeling more? Yarrow is going to be helpful to those folks as well. Kloos goes on to describe how the same small doses that you might take for energetic protection will also open the senses to enhanced visual acuity and auditory perception. Of course, the more hyposensitive you are, the higher the dose you might need, but it would be an extremely gentle way to start connecting with more in your environment (as compared to like, a psychedelic mushroom trip or something).
As for what to pair it with for the hyposensitive, I might start off with other stimulating herbs like rosemary or ginger (if that individual would benefit from warming herbs like these). It would really depend on the individual’s constitution and would need to be customized for their particular needs, but a stimulating herb would be the place to start. Keep in mind that even something as seemingly ‘harmless’ as ginger can have serious drug interactions if taken frequently in large doses, so don’t get too adventurous if you are blending for someone taking pharmaceuticals unless you are well trained in this area.
There are so many ways to use and work with yarrow, and so many of them are beneficial for those of us who are neurodivergent! If you have found yarrow helpful in your life, leave a comment below and let me know how you worked with it and how it went.
Kloos, Scott. (2017). Pacific Northwest Medicinal Plants. Timber Press, Inc.
Holmes, Peter. (2007). The Energetics of Western Herbs: A Materia Medica Integrating Western & Chinese Therapeutics. Snow Lotus Press.
Would you like these posts delivered directly to your inbox each week?
Subscribe for free on Substack: arikarapson.substack.com