Chickweed is a weak-stemmed, much-branched, low plant with small white flowers with deeply cleft petals, in terminal clusters or solitary in leaf axils. Stems with a single line of hairs down the side.
Flowers: 1/4 inch wide; petals 5, so deeply divided as to appear to be 10; sepals 5, green, longer than
Family: Caryophyllaceae (Carnation Family)
Other Names: Adder’s mouth, Indian chickweed, Satin flower, Scarweed, Starweed, Starwort, Stitchwort, Tongue grass, Winterweed
Constituents: Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), biotin, choline, inositol, PABA, fatty acids, mucilage, minerals, phosphorus, potash salts, rutin, silicon, sodium, and vitamins B6, B12, and D.
History: The native Americans used native chickweed for many years, but also adopted naruralized species.
Culpepper states that chickweed, “boiled with hog’s grease applied, helpeth cramps, convulsions and palsy”.
Chickweed is considered a nuisance by gardeners, but it can be used as a food like spinach. It may be used fresh, dried, powdered, in poultices, fomentations, or make into a salve.
Medicinal Properties: Properties: Carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, tonic, and mildly laxative.
Main Uses: Chickweed is similar to soapwort but is safer to use internally. Its main use, however, is external as a poultice or ointment for skin irritation and inflammation as well as for skin ulcers. Boils, carbuncles, and abscesses respond well to a poultice. Internally, chickweed has a reputation for treating rheumatism, asthma, congestion, and bronchitis. It has also been used in weight loss and is an ingredient in some herbal weight loss preparations.
High Cholesterol: Chickweed acts as a natural emulsifier (or “fat dissolver”) and can lower cholesterol levels and it makes a very nutritious wild food, (see wild foods).
For serious constipation, take a decoction of chickweed as described below.
The fresh leaves can be crushed and applied directly or made into an ointment with oil or Vaseline for bruises, irritations, and other skin problems. Chickweed can also be used as a vegetable, like spinach.
Used as a Vitamin C supplement; rich in minerals, especially calcium, magnesium and potassium. This herb helps carry toxins from the body. Dissolves plaque in blood vessels. Also heals and soothes externally.
Preparation And Dosages:
Chickweed can be used fresh or dried.
Infusion: Steep 1 tablespoon herb in 1/2 cup water. Take 1/2 to 1 cup a day.
Decoction: Boil 3 heaping tablespoons of the herb in 1 quart water until a pint of liquid remains. For constipation, take a cupful warm every 3 hours, or more often, until the bowels move.
Juice: Take 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon, three times a day.
Tea: Steep 1 heaping tablespoon in 1 cup of boiling water for 1/2 hour. Drink 3 or 4 cups a day between meals, a swallow at a time, and drink a warm cup upon retiring.
Chickweed is also a wild food.