Chickweed, also known as stitchwort or starweed, is a storehouse of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, silicon, zinc, phosphorus, potassium, protein, sodium, copper, carotenes and vitamins B and C.
Frequent consumption of fresh chickweed leaves and flowers helps strengthen all systems and rebuild vitality. Some people steam it, like spinach, but I much prefer it raw. Chickweed is an excellent nourisher for those recovering from illness or surgery, those dealing with AIDS or any wasting disease, the anemic and the elderly.
Chickweed has great healing, cooling, drawing and dissolving abilities. Try it when you want to bring a boil or pimple to a head, dry up herpes blisters, clean an infected wound or extract a splinter. Applied as a poultice, chickweed stops infection by weakening bacteria cell walls. To use fresh chickweed as a poultice, simply apply the bruised leaves directly, covering the plant matter with a thin layer of gauze or a cabbage leaf. When the plant material gets warm, remove and discard it. Poultice again with fresh chickweed as necessary.
When stung by a bee one summer, my son’s lower arm swelled to an alarming size and became very hot to the touch. We poulticed with fresh chickweed and within twenty minutes the swelling and heat were considerably diminished, and by morning, completely gone. Infused oil of fresh chickweed helps heal minor skin irritations, diaper rash, fever blisters and bug bites.
Chickweed also has an excellent and well-earned reputation for aiding those dealing with eye problems including infections, styes, conjunctivitis (pink eye) and tired, sore, inflamed, irritated eyes.
Chickweed tincture (25-40 drops, 4 times daily) dependably dissolves ovarian cysts and reduces swollen glands. Many First Nations people used it as a remedy against cancer.
Chickweed has several names in Southern Italia, depending on locale: Centocchio comune, paperina, budellina and mervoglina. It’s incredibly common and grows lushly in any shady loose earth, thickets and field borders, even between the cracks in the cobblestones! Poultices are used to cool and heal sores and bruises. Chickweed juice is used as a galactagogue and also to make a poultice combined with parsley leaves and applied to breasts affected by pelo di menna, or mastitis.
Chickweed’s ability to weaken bacteria, combined with its cooling and expectorant actions, makes it an awesome ally for those dealing with bronchial problems, chest colds, pneumonia or asthma. I cook fresh chickweed in boiling water and use a cup of this broth, or 20-40 drops of tincture, at least twice a day.
Chickweed’s alkalizing properties benefit those with chronic infections of the bladder and urinary tract, including chronic cystitis. It may take 20-40 drops of tincture daily for at least three months to correct such problems. Chickweed has been called nature’s diet herb. It contains soapy-like substances called saponins which break down fat cells, sometimes with phenomenal results. Chickweed also nourishes and regulates thyroid function and balances the metabolism.
Chickweed is a joint-oiler, and an excellent choice for those dealing with arthritis, rheumatism and gout. I find consistent use of the tincture, 20-30 drops three times daily, reduces pain and swelling and restores mobility to stiff joints.
Chickweed is also highly regarded as a remedy for testicular problems including cancer, swelling, inflammation and itching. Chickweed in the daily diet, eaten fresh by the handful or in salads, helps soothe and heal these conditions, as does the infusion, the tincture and frequent poultices on the affected area. You don’t have to be ill to benefit from chickweed! Nutritive chickweed is a friend to the healthy who want to stay that way.
Flower Essence Chickweed flower essence emphasizes being fully present in the joy of the moment.
Magical Lore Chickweed has an ancient reputation of being used to attract the attentions of a loved one and ensure fidelity.
Culture Chickweed is an abundant weed in some gardens. Around our farm in Maine it likes shady, damp areas with rich soil. You may find it growing in a pot with your houseplants. Chickweed has small, light-green leaves and sprawling stems. It can be gathered anytime it is green and vibrant, before, during or after the little, white, star-like flowers show. Chickweed is an annual, so it makes a lot of seeds - enough to feed songbirds and to self-seed readily. I gather fresh chickweed for salads. I use only fresh chickweed for poultices, tinctures, vinegars, or infused oils. Dry chickweed has lost most of its medicinal virtues.