Chickweed

“Chickweed”

Chickweed was traditionally harvested as a vegetable, also used to heal wounds and included in poultices for drawing boils.

Very cooling in nature – it is for this reason it is soothing to hot skin complaints – where there is heat and itch. Swellings (mastitis), wounds, rashes – any inflammation.

Also cools internally.

Commonly found in the garden as a ‘weed’.


Latin binomial: Stellaria medica

Common name(s): Chickweed

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Part(s) used: Aerial Parts – Leaves, Stems and Flowers. Harvest throughout growing period.


Qualities: Sweet, moist & cool (Ody)


“…in a word, it comforteth, digesteth, defendeth and suppurateth very notably” – John Gerard, 1597


Actions: 

  • Herbal saponins are known to irritate mucous membranes: used as expectorants/antitussive
  • Soothing properties when applies to the skin
  • Mild laxative and diuretic
  • Cooling (Braun & Cohen, 2010)
  • Anti-rheumatic
  • Demulcent
  • Astringent (Ody)
  • ‘Cooling’ to the liver
  • Nutritive – most of B complex, magnesium, oleic acid, ascorbic acid, carotenoids, calcium, iron, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, molybdenum, zinc

TOPICALLY: 

  • Vulnerary
  • Emollient
  • Anti-pruitic

Indications:

  • Internally used in helping to treat conditions characterised by fever and bronchial phlegm
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Inflammatory disorders — rheumatism, gout & cancer Tx adjunct
  • Taken orally it can be used as a cough suppressant
  • Topically it may sooth inflamed and itchy skin. Anecdotal evidence suggests it has some effects when treating conditions such as urticaria, eczema, rashes and burns. (Braun & Cohen, 2010). Soothes the inflammation – mix with other herbs to help get in and heal/reduce infection etc.
  • MASTITIS –– apply poultice to inflamed skin. 
  • HOT FLUSH MENOPAUSAL – cooling to the liver and body
  • Digestive inflammation – diarrhoea, constipation, dyspepsia and ulcers ‘HOT’

Contraindications/cautions: Allergic skin reaction can occur with topical use – caution in people with hypersensitivities. 

Considered safe in pregnancy when consumed in dietary amounts.


Dose:

1:1 LE 20 to 100 mL weekly

FRESH PLANT SUCCUS: 20 to 40 mL weekly — use a wheatgrass juicer


OTHER USES:

  • DECOCTION: Use the herb fresh if possible for a cleansing, tonic mixture to help relieve tiredness and debility. Also good for urinary tract inflammations. 
  • TINCTURE: Add to remedies for Rheumatism
  • POULTICE: Apply fresh plant to boils, abscesses , eczema or hot skin conditions. Pound fresh leaves with a mortar & pestle.
  • COMPRESS: Soak pad in hot decoction or diluted tincture for painful rheumatic joints
  • CREAM: Apply to eczema- ESPECIALLY if ITCHING. Use to draw out insect stings or splinters. Use on burns or scalds
  • INFUSED OIL: Apply as alternative to creams for irritant skin rashes or add 1 tablespoon to bath water for eczema

References used:

Braun, L. & Cohn, M. (2010) Herbs & Natural Supplements; An evidence based guide. Elsevier: NSW. Pg.310-311

Ody, Penelope (1998). The Herb Society’s Complete Medicinal Herbal. Milan: Dorling Kindersley
Hoffman, D. (1990). Holistic Herbal. London: Thorsons

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