Chickweed: Medicine in your Backyard

Latin Name    Stellaria media   Origin  Europe

Also Known As

Common Chickweed, Chickenwort, Craches, Maruns, Winterweed, Starweed, Starwort, Mischievious Jack

Parts Used  Leaves and Flowers

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Chickweed is native to Europe and evidence of its use has been found in Preneolithic dig sites. It was extensively used by North American Native Americans for the treatment of respiratory disorders, colds, coughs, flu, sore throats and as an effective wound healer.

In European traditional medicine Chickweed was used for a wide spectrum of conditions including, bronchitis, asthma and indigestion. This pretty flowering plant was (and still is) used as a tasty, nutritious salad leaf, a pot herb and in soups and stews. High in vitamin C, sailors used Chickweed vinegar to prevent scurvy when fresh citrus was unavailable.

Chickweed Benefits

Coughs/Colds/Flu

Chickweed contains saponins, plant compounds that can alleviate inflamed mucous membranes and facilitate the breakup of secretions from the membranes. It acts as a demulcent and expectorant, helping to clear mucous and ease congestion in the lungs.

Also high in many nutrients, including vitamin C and antioxidants, Chickweed helps to relieve inflammation in the nose, sinuses and respiratory tract whilst helping to eliminate the underlying cause of infection.

Healthy Weight Loss

A natural appetite suppressant, the saponins in Chickweed have been found to emulsify fat cells and flush them from the body. This versatile herb also supports healthy thyroid function which is essential in the smooth running of the body’s metabolism. It contains natural lecithin which specifically aids in fat metabolism.

Digestive Health

The saponins in Chickweed increase the permeability of mucous membranes, increasing the absorption of nutrients whilst soothing the digestive tract. It functions both as a mild laxative and a diuretic, helping the body to rid itself of toxins through the kidneys and the bowels.

Chickweed also balances the beneficial bacteria in the gut, providing the optimum environment for healthy digestion.

Skin Health

Chickweed is known as a skin rejuvenator in the world of contemporary herbalism. It has a cooling and drying effect on wounds, bites and minor burns. As an astringent, Chickweed can be used draw out splinters and help to heal the wound left behind.

With anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antifungal properties, infusions of Chickweed can be used to treat a number of skin complaints including; boils, sores, rashes, wounds, eczema and psoriasis. It will also relieve the itching and inflammation that accompanies many of these conditions.

How You Can Use the Chickweed Plant

The stems and leaves of this herb are commonly used as a poultice to ease arthritis and joint pain. It can also be used to relieve skin conditions, such as eczema and nettle rash. It can also be added to pet food to assist in the expulsion of hair balls and to help soothe the digestive tract.  Here’s a list that can help you determine how you can use chickweed, depending on your needs:

  • As a poultice. Chickweeds can be crushed and directly applied to bruises and aching body parts to help ease tension or lessen inflammation.
  • As a compress. You can apply it to aching joints and muscles to relieve pain.
  • As an infused oil. Infused chickweed oil can be added to bathwater to help alleviate the symptoms of eczema. It can also be used as a topical medication for insect bites and other skin conditions to help minimize itchiness.
  • As a decoction. Chickweed decoction can be used to help with constipation. To make a decoction, boil 3 heaping tablespoons of chickweed leaves in 1 quart of water. Take this decoction every three hours or until your constipation disappears.

 

Chickweed contains

ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, coumarins, genistein, gamma-linolenic-acid, flavonoids, hentriacontanol, magnesium, niacin, oleic-acid, potassium, riboflavin, rutin, selenium, triterpenoid saponins, thiamin and zinc.

Precautions

There are no known contraindications or drug interactions.