Herb for Heroes and Hajduks

Achilles, an almost invincible hero of the Trojan War, owed his immortality to his mother Thetis, a nereid – a sea nymph – who regularly dipped him in the river Styx; however, he was left vulnerable in one part of the body – that by which his mother held him while dipping him in the river: his left heel which never touched the sacred waters of the river Styx. Thetis also used other methods in an attempt to strengthen her son. Some unorthodox methods which were opposed by her husband Peleus involved Thetis anointing the boy in ambrosia and holding him over a fire in order to burn away the mortal parts of his body. After she had been stopped by Peleus, she abandoned both her husband and her son in a rage and returned the the depths of the sea.

Peleus entrusted the upbringing of Achilles to Chiron the Centaur who achieved a feat that even modern medicine would be envious of – he carried out the first transplantation. He implanted the bone of the giant Damiso, a famous runner, in Achilles leg, thus making Achilles an extraordinary runner. Achilles had all the advantages of the most modern education of the time: his diet consisted of the intestines of lions and wild boar (so that he should become strong) and honey to make him sweet and eloquent. In effect, Achilles had all the advantages of the traditional medicine of the period.  

As the Greek fleet gathered in Aulis, Achilles mother gave him Hephaestus weapons, a divine horse and the slave Mnemon. Legend has it that the Greek army first reached Mysia on its way to Troy. Convinced that they had arrived in Troy, they set out to ravage the city, until Telephus, the son of Heracles, appeared. After Telephus had stumbled on a vine, Achilles struck him in the thigh with a spear.  

After many adventures Telephus and Achilles met in Greece again. Telephus’ wound was not healing and – as he leant from the oracle – it could be healed only by the person who inflicted it. Therefore Telephus donned beggar’s clothes and went searching for Achilles. In Aulis, he managed to get medical help thanks to his cunning: he promised the Greek army to show them the way to Troy if Achilles healed his wound.

A version of the story says that Achilles scraped pieces of his spear onto Telephus’ wound, which miraculously healed. According to another version, he used herbal medicine – he applied yarrow to Telephus wound. We all probably know how Achilles ended his life and how his heal became legendary, but that is not all. In year 1753 his healing powers inspired Carl Linnaeus to name a very special plant by Achilles’ name. That is how yarrow was given its scientific name Achillea millefolium. 

Many heroes’ wounds were healed by this herb.  In our region it became legendary thanks to hajduks (legendary anti-Ottoman freedom fighters and highway brigands in West Balkans), who are fated to have carried it on themselves, just in case. Centuries have passed, but yarrow (in Serbian called hajdučka trava /hajduks’s herbs/) does not cease to fascinate. It has a beneficial effect on the liver and kidneys, the reproductive system, digestive organs, the nervous system, and circulation; it lowers blood sugar, relieves the symptoms of the flu and colds, regulates blood pressure and cures haemorrhoids. As Achilles and hajduks have known for centuries, it can stop bleeding and can promote wound healing. 

Yarrow has a very good reason to be one of the ingredients used in Femisan A and B. Thanks to achilleine and tannin this precious plant soothes lengthy and heavy bleeding and has a positive effect on the hormonal balance. With its soothing effect on the nervous system it calms its oversensitivity in perimenopause and menopause, and after the onset of menopause it has a positive  effect on the cardiovascular system by preventing diabetes and strengthening immunity. 

Myths a legends are one thing but reality is something completely different. We all know that women are in effect the biggest silent heroes. That is why this heroes’ herb is here to ease their way through many heroic deeds – both those experienced on a daily basis, but also some momentous events in one’s life.