Chickweed close-uo

Chickweed

Chickweed, Stellaria media, is native to Europe and its botanic name means star-like. It grows well in disturbed areas and cultivated fields and herbalists used it to cool and moist irritated and inflammed tissues.

FAMILY

Caryophyllaceae

OTHER NAMES

Starweed, starwort, chick wittles, tongue grass, winter weed, passerina, clucken wort, skirt buttons, stitchwort, satinflower, white bird’s-eye, adders mouth, tongue weed

BOTANIC CHARACTERISTICS

Chickweed is a fast-growing, clump-forming and spreading herbaceous annual often found in rich and moist soil. The tiny white flowers are star-shaped with 5 sepals and 5 petals (each so deeply cleft it looks like there are 10 petals in total but there are only 5). The leaves are green-yellow, oval and grow opposite along the hairy stem. The easiest way to identify chickweed is to look for the line of fine hairs that grow in a single band along the stem and on the sepals. You might need a magnifying glass to see these hairs.

CULTIVATION

Not necessary as chickweed self-seeds readily.

HARVEST

Harvest the top 2cm (1 inch)

DRYING

Use it fresh only as its potency declines quickly after drying.

CONSTITUENTS

Mucilage, triterpenoid saponins, coumarins, carboxylic acids, silica, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, copper, vitamins A, B, C, fatty acids

PROPERTIES

Alterative, aquaretic, astringent, anti-rheumatic, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, febrifuge, lymphatic, mucilaginous, vulnerary

ENERGETICS

Bitter, sweet, cool, moist

TASTE

Earthy

ODOR

Mild

MEDICINAL USE OF CHICKWEED

Chickweed is used to cool and moisten irritated and inflamed tissues. It is high in saponin which is a compound that produces lather when agitated. This soap-like foam is caused by the emulsification of fat-soluble aglycones and water-soluble sugars and increases the permeability of cellular membranes. This means an increased ability to absorb nutrients, break down excess fats, expel excess mucus and modulate inflammation.

Take internally for:

  • Relieving unproductive cough
  • Bronchitis
  • Sore throat
  • Fever (but not for when someone has a fever and feels cold)
  • Increasing nutrient absorption
  • Soothing irritation of the urinary tract (combined with Yarrow or cranberry)
  • Aiding in weight loss

Topic application for:

  • Arthritis, rheumatism and gout
  • Cuts, wounds, boils, blisters, scrapes and skin irritation
  • Soothing eye irritation, sties and conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Itchiness
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Dryness
  • Nettle rash
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Varicose veins
  • Benign cysts
  • Swollen lymph
HOMEMADE PREPARATIONS
  • Infusion
  • Decoction
  • Expressed juice
  • Liquid extract
  • Tincture
  • Vinegar
  • Infused oil (let the plant dry for a few days to avoid mold development)
  • Salve and cream/lotion
  • Poultice
  • Bath additive
SIDE EFFECTS

None

CONTRA-INDICATIONS

None

CULINARY USE

Chickweed is a delicious addition to salads.

Chickweed close-up

References
Class notes
Church, B. 2006. Medicinal Plants, Trees, & Shrubs of Appalachia – A Field Guide. Lulu

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