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Using Chickweed for Food and Medicine

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Find a multitude of chickweed uses with these edible and medicinal recipes.

A hand holding a bunch of fresh chickweed with text overlay.

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. The white flowers have 5 petals, though they tend to be deeply notched and can appear to be 10 petals upon first glance.

A stem of chickweed with leaves and flowers in a rocky field.

Chickweed for Food

Chickweed is high in calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as Vitamins A & C. 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.

  • Salads – Combine chickweed leaves and flowers with other greens for addition to salads. Pick the young, tender leaves because 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.
  • Pesto – Chickweed makes a delightful and easy pesto. Make a bunch when the chickweed is plentiful 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 has many uses both internally and externally: 

Mix fresh chickweed with vinegar to use in bath water to help relieve itchy skin. 

A sealed and labeled jar of chickweed bath vinegar sitting on a rock surrounded by fresh growing chickweed.

Much like plantain chickweed can be used to help soothe sunburn and bug bites. Simply put some fresh leaves 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. 

Because chickweed is so very good at relieving itch, consider making a homemade salve to rub on irritated skin.

A glass bowl of homemade salve sitting on a coaster.

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.

It also supports the kidneys and acts as a mild diuretic meaning it can reduce water weight and when water is properly regulated in the body, the metabolism is usually functioning normally.

Chickweed can also help relieve dry coughs, so drink it in tea when it’s fresh or make a tincture for winter. 

A flower essence made from chickweed is said to help us release the past and focus on the present.

Preserving Chickweed

Chickweed does not dry well, Rosemary Gladstar recommends making a tincture to preserve chickweed for medicinal uses. Freeze chickweed to use for cooling applications on the skin and for smoothies. 

A patch of wild growing chickweed winding through large stones.

Chickweed is generally considered safe for everyone, though when eaten in large quantities it can have a laxative effect. With that little caveat aside, do go out and forage some chickweed for food and medicine this spring and summer.

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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.

Brittany

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!

Susie

Friday 17th of June 2016

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

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