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Using Chickweed for Food and Medicine

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.

A bunch of freshly harvested chickweeds being held in someone's hand. Text overlay reads: Ways to Use Chickweed Edible & Medicinal.

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.

Identifying Chickweed

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.

Close up of the white flower petals of a chickweed plant.

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.

A basket full of freshly harvested chickweed.

Pesto – Chickweed makes a delightful and easy pesto. Make large amounts and freeze it for tasty chickweed meals even in a snow covered landscape.

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.

A canning jar full of green liquid sits on a rock surrounded by growing chickweed. A label on the jar reads chickweed in ACV 2 TBSP per bath.

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.

A cup of herbal tea sits on a table covered in a floral cloth - a jar of honey sits in the background.

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.

Preserving Chickweed

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.

Chickweed growing alongside rocks in a yard.

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 Safety

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.

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Annette Bass

Tuesday 14th of July 2020

I feed chickweed to my canary regularly, he has never been sick and is nearly 12 years old and going strong.

Tessa Zundel

Sunday 14th of April 2019

Do you just freeze it by itself or blend it with water - as if for ice cubes? I'm curious why it doesn't dry well? Does it just lose nutritional value? Sometimes I dehydrate something and it just turns to dust! :)

Kathie Lapcevic

Wednesday 17th of April 2019

According to Rosemary Gladstar it just doesn't hold up well in the dehydrating process and I've always just taken her word for it. I just freeze it chopped in ice cube trays. So say 1 teaspoon of chopped chickweed in an ice cube square, fill with water.


Saturday 25th of March 2017

We have a ton on our property, I haven't yet ventured to use it for my family but my chickens go crazy for it. I happily give them a heap of it and they chow down.

Renee Kohley

Sunday 7th of August 2016

I have gotten some dried chickweed as I had a practitioner tell me it helps the immune system (I have hashis) - I like it in an infusion with pleasant tasting herbs!


Friday 17th of June 2016

I just made some chickweed pesto sauce.... it turned out great!