Chickweed, aka chick wittles, clucken wort, and chickeny weed, is available for harvest almost year round, except in midsummer when it becomes fibrous and tough, and in midwinter when it disappears. The name Stellaria comes from the fact that the flowers are like little stars.
Although beloved by chickens, chickweed is an excellent salad plant for humans, especially in later winter and early spring. It has an earthy, slightly salty tang, and is easily gathered. High is vitamin A and C, saponins, and plentiful minerals, including iron, copper, magnesium, and calcium, making it one of the best spring tonics. It is tender and juicy, being called the tenderest of wild greens.
Think of chickweed as being as soft as slippery elm, as soothing as marshmallow, and as protective and strengthening as comfrey root.Weed (1989)
Chickweed is a floppy plant with smooth light green leaves, with a line of white hairs up the side of the stem, like its many cousins found virtually every where in the world. It prefers gardens, hedge-banks, and waste ground. The above ground parts are gathered whenever vibrant and green.
Best known external uses are to soothe itches, bites, stings, inflammations, burns, swellings, sunburn, bruises, splinters, and sore eyes. Makes a good and readily found first-aid/emergency remedy. You can chew up some of the plant and place on bites and stings while in the field to soothe and cool. Great for resolving skin problems where some form of heat is involved and where other herbs or creams have failed, especially when a cooling, drawing action is needed.
Known for clearing up long-standing or ‘indolent’ damage, such as eczema, rheumatic joints, and varicose veins, and is also safe for delicate organs that need cooling and soothing, making it great for eye inflammations of most sorts, including itchiness from a contact lense.
It contains saponins, which means ‘soap-like’. If you take and rub it in your hands with a little water, you may not actually get bubbles, but you will feel the soapiness, leaving your hands feeling lovely and soft, if smelling like chickweed.
Chickweed internally helps with hot inflammatory problems like gastritis, colitis, congested chest, blocked kidneys, and gallbladder. It is great for the lungs, sore throats, bronchitis, asthma, irritable dry cough as well as other respiratory problems. Easily made into a tea to drink. It is hard to overdo chickweed if at all. Even children can consume it, but as always use caution with babies. I will not say whether you can use it on them. Do your own research for that.
For itchy skin, especially over a large portion of the body–itchy skin, shingles, rheumatism, and rashes.
Put a few handfuls of fresh chickweed in a sock or tie in a square of muslin, and secure with a string. Hang it on the tap, under the running hot water. Oatmeal can also be added with the chickweed for more soothing properties. Once the bath is run, gently squeeze the sock or bag to release the rest of the goodness and soak. Twenty minutes is usually a good amount of time if you have it.
Most of this information came from Backyard Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal, a book I have used previously on other blog posts. If you haven’t gotten yourself a copy, do it! I got mine at Tractor Supply, but I know you can find it on places like amazon. I am not sponsored by anyone, I just really love this book, and find it very useful. I have only listed a small bit about what chickweed can do, but there are many more uses for this amazing little weed. I encourage you to do your own research, because there is just something to hunting down information that is liberating. Some of you may not feel the same way, but for those who are, get to it! There is so much to learn!
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