Botanical Name: Stellaria media (translated as star)

Common Name: Chickweed

Family: Carophyllaceae (carnation)

Ayurvedic/TCM Name: Cha qi fan lu

Parts Used: Herb

Native Region: Native to Europe, found throughout temperate regions of North America

Geographic Distribution: It has been said that there is no part of the world where the Chickweed is not to be found. It is a common hardy plant that easily grows in cropland and fallow fields, lawns and gardens, areas adjacent to buildings, and in waste areas.

Botanical Description: The stem is procumbent and weak, much branched, often reaching a considerable length, trailing on the ground, juicy, pale green and slightly swollen at the joints. Chickweed is readily distinguished from the plants of the same genus by the line of hairs that runs up the stem on one side only, which when it reaches a pair of leaves is continued on the opposite side. The leaves are succulent, egg-shaped, about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch broad, with a short point, pale green and quite smooth, with flat stalks below, but stalkless above. They are placed on the stem in pairs. The small white star-like flowers are situated singly in the axils of the upper leaves. Their 5 petals are narrow and deeply cleft, not longer than the sepals. They open about nine o’clock in the morning and are said to remain open just twelve hours in bright weather, but rain keeps them from expanding. The seeds are contained in a little capsule fitted with teeth which close up in wet weather, but when ripe are open and the seeds are shaken out by each movement of the plant in the breeze. Every night the leaves approach each other, so that their upper surfaces fold over the tender buds of the new shoots. [1] When the stem is broken it has no milky sap unlike its relatives where the stems are completely covered with hair and has milky sap. The roots are shallow and fibrous.[2]

Harvesting Guidelines: The whole herb, collected between May and July, when it is in the best condition. Can be used fresh or dried.

Constituents: The benefits of chickweed may in part be due to its high nutritional value. It is particularly high in ascorbic acid (vitamin C), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, the omega-6 fatty acid derivative), saponins, niacin, riboflavin (B2) thiamine (B1), beta carotene (A), magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, selenium and silica. [3]

Medical Uses: Chickweed is best known for its soothing and healing quality. The high saponin content of this herb is thought to be the reason for its effectiveness in relieving skin problems such as erysipelatous and other forms of ulceration, as well as many forms of cutaneous diseases. Chickweed has been used traditionally as an external remedy for cuts, wounds, minor burns, abscesses and skin irritations, especially such as itching, dryness and irritation due to dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis.

Taken internally as a tea or tincture, chickweed has a reputation as a treatment for rheumatism and an infusion of the fresh or dried leaves added to bath water is thought to reduce inflammation caused by rheumatic pain.

A poultice of the crushed leaves has been used traditionally to relieve any kind of roseola and is thought to be effective where there are fragile superficial veins.

Taken internally in small quantities as a decoction, chickweed is considered a treatment for constipation, kidney complaints and quick relief of pain in the digestive system.

Additionally, chickweed decoction has been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat cystitis and other related urinary tract inflammations. [3]

Edible Uses: “The flavor of chickweed is pure spring vitality that tastes like green sunshine,” says author Katrina Blair. [4] It can be used in salads (harvest with care that you only get chickweed). The young growing ends, leaves and stems, can all be eaten.

Recipes

Cream over Chickweed Greens [4]
Ingredients
1 lemon, juiced
1 TBS honey
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 TBS fresh oregano
1 TBS tahini
2 TBS white miso
1/2 cup water
1 avocado
Bowl of chickweed greens and other greens as available

Directions
Blend all ingredients except the greens in a blender until smooth and creamy. Drizzle dressing onto the bowl of greens

Chickweed Cucumber Cooler [4]
Ingredients
1 cup fresh chickweed
1 cucumber
1 apple
sprig of fresh mint
4 cups water

Directions
Mix in blender and strain out pulp.

Chickweed & Fruit Juice [4]
Take a handful of clean fresh chickweed and add to a glass of desired fruit juice, use a blender to mix. Can be taken twice a day.

Chickweed Tea or Decoction [5]
1 tsp dried chickweed (2 tsp if fresh) for every cup of water
Boil water, steep for 10 – 15 minutes and strain. Store in glass jar for later consumption

Chickweed Oil [5]
Ingredients
2 handsful of fresh chickweed
1 1/4 cup coconut oil

Directions
Finely chop chickweed and let it wilt for 12-24 hours. Add wilted chickweed to oil. Mix in blender. Place mixture in double boiler. Bring water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Stir mixture until oil is warm to touch. Allow mixture to sit for a few hours. Repeat heating process about 4 times to ensure more complete extraction. Oil will be ready when it takes on a green hue. Strain mixture after 24-48 hours to remove leaves from oil. Store at room temperature.

Chickweed Salve [4]
Ingredients
1 cup chickweed oil
1/8 cup beeswax
2 Tbs shea butter or cocoa butter
8-10 drops lavender essential oil

Directions
Use double boiler to melt all ingredients together. Do not boil. Stir well and pour into your desired containers to cook.

Precautions: Consult healthcare professional if pregnant or nursing mother.

Disclaimer: The information in any Every Needful Thing article is not intended to replace medical advice.

References
1. https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/chickw60.html
2. http://www.medicalhealthguide.com/herb/chickweed.htm
3. https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/chickweed-herbs.html
4. Katrina Blair, The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014), 124-134
5. https://articles.mercola.com/herbs-spices/chickweed.aspx

Billie Nicholson, Editor
October 2017

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