Contributed by Dori Cranmore RN
This sometimes ‘pesty’ weed growing in our gardens and lawn is actually edible and medicinal.
Chickweed got its name because it’s a favorite food for chickens and other small birds. It is very nutritious for us as well, high in vitamins and minerals and can be added to salads or cooked as a pot herb, tasting a bit like spinach.
Unlike other herbs that utilize just a part of the plant, chickweed’s entire plant is used. As a leafy vegetable it is high in chlorophyll, calcium, iron, niacin, selenium, GLA, thiamine, zinc, vitamin c and beta-carotene. It has been shown to provide anti-inflammatory effects, both internally and externally, by stimulating the production of mucosal fluids to cool the inflammation, soothe irritated tissues and promote healing.
Chickweed has been called one of nature’s top superfoods for its ability to purify the blood and lymphatic system. These properties are responsible for its well known effects as an herbal skin healer. Chickweed is often recommended for treating abscesses, boils, eczema, psoriasis, skin ulcers, rashes, vaginitis and varicose veins. It can be taken internally and used topically which is proven useful for rashes, itchiness or other inflammatory skin issues.
Using an infusion or tea is useful in dealing with coughs and hoarseness, and is also beneficial in the treatment of kidney complaints. Pouring chickweed tea into a bath is known to help with rheumatic pains. Drinking or taking chickweed internally has been used to relieve constipation as it provides ample amounts of fiber and helps stimulate digestion.
A study done in 2012 addressed the use of chickweed for obesity. What they found was that using chickweed may prevent high-fat diet-induced fat storage in adipose tissue by inhibiting the intestinal absorption of dietary fat and carbohydrates.
Some ways to use chickweed:
Infused Oil: Fill a jar with fresh chickweed and cover completely with jojoba or olive oil. Steep for fourteen days, shaking every day. Then strain and use on irritated skin rashes and eczema, or add a tablespoon to bath water for eczema sufferers.
Infusion: Drink 1 cup (2 teaspoons chickweed per cup of boiling water-do not microwave) three times a day for muscular rheumatism, urinary tract inflammations, or whenever a cleansing and cooling remedy is required.
Poultice: Apply fresh, crushed plant on gauze or in a muslin (cheesecloth) bag for skin sores, boils, abscesses, or gout.
A sudden large intake of chickweed can promote diarrhea, nausea and vomiting in some. It’s best to eat it in small doses and build up to larger amounts over a few days. Chickweed is not recommended during pregnancy.
Chickweed is available in liquid extract, dried bulk and capsules at All About Herbs Inc. in Wasilla.