Get all of the nutritional and medicinal benefits of chickweed with these very simple and doable projects!
Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a delicate little plant that is almost easy to ignore. Its long, thin stems with tiny white flowers grow most anywhere. While it is not native to North America, it has become quite prolific here.
It’s a considered a common weed by many, but don’t let that fool you. You can put it to good use in your early spring meal plans and herbal medicine cabinet quite easily.
Chickweed is a delicate little plant that is almost easy to ignore. Its long, thin stems with tiny white flowers grow most anywhere and can be quite prolific.
It’s a considered a weed by many, but I have this little wild patch that grows right next to my porch and I treasure it and the bounty it provides both for my herbal medicine cabinet and my meal plan.
Chickweed is a sprawling plant. Look for tiny green leaves with stems that have tiny white hairs along the side. The small white flowers have 5 petals, though they tend to be deeply notched and can appear to be 10 petals upon first glance.
Common chickweed grows in many yards and does prefer a cooler growing season, making this one of many ideal wild plants to harvest in the spring season.
Chickweed for Food
Chickweed is high in calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as Vitamins C & A. It’s packed with nutrition but admittedly the flavor can be a bit bland on its own but there are some great ways to include it in the meal rotation.
It doesn’t last incredibly long once picked. So once you harvest the fresh herb plan on using it up in a quickly.
Salads – Combine raw chickweed leaves and flowers with other greens for addition to salads. Pick the young leaves because they often more tender, as the summer wears on the stems tend to get a bit stringy in texture.
Smoothies – Because chickweed is a bit bland, adding it to fruit smoothies increases the nutrition factor without getting in the way of any fruit flavors.
Chickweed for Natural Healing
These tiny flowers and delicate stems pack a big healing punch. Chickweed benefits both skin and internal organs in a variety of ways as a medicinal herb.
Blend the whole plant with vinegar to use in bath water as an easy herbal remedy to help relieve itchy skin.
Much like plantain, chickweed can be used to help soothe sunburn and bug bites. Simply make a poultice of chickweed by crushing the fresh leaves and placing directly on the wound.
Chickweed has many cooling properties making it an ideal tea to drink when the body is fighting off rashes like those from poison ivy and other allergic reactions. Simply make chickweed tea by steeping 1 Tablespoon of the fresh herb (1 teaspoon of the dried herb) in 1 cup of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes before straining and drinking.
Because it is so very good at relieving itch, consider making a homemade chickweed salve to rub on irritated skin.
There’s an old-wives tale that connects chickweed to obesity and weight loss. Indeed, it is sometimes featured in certain weight-loss formulations. There is some scientific evidence behind this, chickweed is high in saponins which can help flush fat and other toxins from the body. Still don’t look at it like some kind of quick-fix or miracle drug, rather understand this folk remedy may or may not apply today.
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It also supports the kidneys and digestive tract. It acts as a mild diuretic meaning it can reduce water weight.
Chickweed can also help relieve dry coughs, so drink it in tea when it’s fresh or make a chickweed tincture for winter.
A flower essence made from chickweed is said to help us release the past and focus on the present.
Want to save some of those fresh chickweed leaves for later use? There are several options for preserving this common plant.
Dry chickweed like any herb – hang until dry or place on dehydrator trays and dry until crispy. There are some folk medicine resources that say dried chickweed isn’t the best option for medicinal purposes. You can always give it a try and see what works for you.
Freeze the chickweed in small bags and use the frozen plant material for tossing into smoothies or rubbing on skin irritations for cooling relief.
Make infused chickweed oil for external treatment of any kind or for turning into salve or lip balm later in the year.
Chickweed is generally considered safe for everyone, though when eaten in large quantities it can have a laxative effect. As always be sure to check with your healthcare provider for any kind of contraindication and of course, avoid chickweed’s use if allergic.