I am literally amazed at the all the wonderful healing plants that grow so abundantly in our own gardens and surrounding areas. What I find the most astounding is that most of these healing plants are unknown, ignored, or passed off as weeds.
I am sure you have heard the phrase …it is only a weed because it grows in a location that you do not want it to grow.
Imagine however that you learn about these plants, and then change your perception from “weeds” to “herbal allies”. How wonderful it all becomes when your acquaintance with these beings turns into a mutually beneficial relationship?
Instead of disliking them, you embrace their healing properties and work with them to create your own herbal apothecary.
Today I want to tell you about Chickweed. This was another herb that spontaneously came up in my garden pots, and she simply keeps on reseeding herself again and again. As with the Cleavers, in the beginning, tiny amounts, however, the more I harvest the more she gave until I finally had enough to make my first batch of fresh tincture.
CHICKWEED, BETTER KNOWN AS STELLARIA MEDIA
If you are so lucky to have chickweed in your garden, the following list may be of use to you:
- Chickweed is high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, minerals, proteins and is rich in fiber. If you have a large patch of chickweed, you can cook this herb as a green, as you would spinach. Chickweed is also delicious as pesto.
- Chickweed is lovely in a fresh salad, and to me, this herb tastes like mini/baby corns.
- Mixed into your pet foot assist with the expulsion of hairballs, and soothes the digestive tract.
- Chickweed as a tea will cool down hot flushes. It is also a mild diuretic and helps to sooth the kidneys and urinary tract.
- Chickweed as an herbal infusion is both nourishing and aids weight loss. Chickweed contains saponins, which increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, especially minerals. They also dissolve and break down unwanted matter. Chickweed is an appetite suppressant.
- Chickweed is a cooling herb that can relieve pain and inflammation such as arthritis and gout while stimulating healing.
- As a fresh poultice, this herb is wonderful to heal eye infections and can be applied directly to pinkeye, keeping in place with a small towel. Once the herb heats up this is an indication that the bacteria are dying. Remove used chickweed and replace with a fresh poultice for each application. Continue fresh poultices for several days until full healing, applying a poultice once or twice a day.
- Chickweed as a tincture dissolve cysts, tumors, and growths. This tincture must be made from fresh plant material only.
- Chickweed as a salve can be applied to clear cuts, wounds, burns, boils and diaper rash.
- Chickweed as an expectorant may ease respiratory infections and soothes the bronchial tubes, helping to expect mucus and phlegm.
Identification, growth, and harvesting of Chickweed
Chickweed is a low growing herb with a delicate root system. Leaves and stems are both gentle. Leaves are oval shaped. When in flower chickweed has tiny white flowers that look like little stars. The flowers look like they have ten petals, but they really only have five deeply divided petals. Chickweed does not like a lot of heat and prefer party shaded spots and thrives in cool and moist conditions. If you look close up you will see tiny little hairs growing on the stem.
Chickweed occurs either as an annual species or as a short-lived perennial, producing several generations a year. A single plant can produce about 2 500 red-brown seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for 25-40 years.
Chickweed is classified as an invasive species and I guess that is why you cannot buy seeds locally. I tried to look online for seeds in South Africa and could not find any suppliers. This makes me cherish my little patch even more so. If you really want to add this to your herbal medicine garden, you can buy them from international suppliers.
It is best to harvest Chickweed before it flowers. Simply cut several inches from the top, leaving enough stems and leaves for the plant to continue growing. Regular harvests ensure that your plant flourishes after each harvest.
Chickweed makes a tasty vinegar when added to apple cider vinegar and strained after a few weeks. It can blend well with other more sharply flavored vinegar to mellow the taste. I use homemade vinegar, either apple cider or Kombucha.
Buttered Chickweed Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes, Cook Time: 5 minutes, Yield: Serves 2
The freshness of chickweed combined with the healthy goodness of onions makes this a great side dish to serve at the dinner table.
- 2 cups chickweed chopped chickweed
- one onion finely chopped
Wash chickweed thoroughly. Place in boiling salted water. Cook only for only two to three minutes, drain well. (Reserve liquid to make a tea or use to make rice.) Melt a small amount of butter in a frying pan. Sauté the onion until translucent then add chickweed. Add salt, pepper or any other spices you may enjoy. Sauté one minute. Serves 2
Chickweed Salad Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes, Yield: Serves 4
A salad with the fresh, unique flavour of a tasty wild green.
- 1 cup chickweed leaves
- 1 bunch scallions or 1 small red onion finely sliced
- 1 beet
- pinch of sea salt
- 3 tbsp. organic coconut oil
- 2 tbsp. wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsps. mustard of choice
Rinse and drain chickweed. Thinly cut scallions. Grate a raw beet. Place in bowl. Combine the coconut oil, wine vinegar, and mustard well then toss through salad. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over salt and enjoy. Serves one.
Always remember when making anything with wildflowers or weeds, they should be free from pesticides!
Chickweed is used best fresh, however, fresh herbs have a water content and when herbs are used fresh, your herbal oils can become rancid. It is best to harvest your chickweed fresh and then allow it to wilt overnight before infusing the herb into your oil. When infusing, use a slow oil infusion, gently heating the oil will dissipate the remainder of the moisture. Slow infusions take between 3-4 hours, where the oil is only slightly heated and never boiled. Once your oil is infused, you can strain the herbs and add beeswax to solidify. You may also add some drops of lavender essential oil to help preserve your salve and add a nice fragrance.
Chickweed Eye Lotion
- 125ml distilled water
- 125ml witch hazel
- 15ml chickweed tincture
Combine all ingredients in a clean plastic dispenser-top bottle. Use prepared witch hazel from the pharmacy. Shake well. To use: Wet a cloth or cotton ball with lotion and apply to closed eyes for 3 minutes. Discontinue if eyes are sensitive. Excerpt from Healing Wise by Susun Weed
Chickweed Herbal Tincture
Tinctures are created by adding fresh plant matter into alcohol to extract the medicinal properties of the herb and to preserve the medicine for later use.
The tincture of chickweed can be used in the following ways
- To use this tincture to dissolve cysts use a dropperful of tincture 2-3 times a day for 2-16 months.
- For chronic rheumatic pain, use 20-30 drops of fresh plant tincture taken in water several times a day for several months, to help restore joint mobility and ease the pain.
- For bronchial problems, chest colds, pneumonia or asthma, 20-40 drops of tincture daily at least twice a day.
My own experiences
I made the chickweed eye lotion to treat eye infection in my kitten. Both eyes were severely infected and after the first day, you could already see a huge improvement. I applied the lotion to a cotton wool and wiped the eyes several times a day. Using a clean cotton ball for every application and eye. As I did not have witch hazel, I made a tea with fresh chickweed and added chickweed tincture.
Folklore & Magic
“It is said that chickweed grows nearby when one has a need for it. The energy and magic that chickweed carries is said to help maintain and strengthen relationships, encourage fidelity among lovers, and attract love. Chickweed enjoyed much use in European folklore and magic for these very reasons, and it was tradition to carry a sprig of chickweed to catch a lover’s eye and encourage them to remain faithful and loyal. We’d like to share with you some of the wonderful magical energies that are hidden within this powerful and prevalent herb.
Balance: Chickweed seeks soil that has balanced conditions. It does not like soil that is too acidic or too dry. However, if the conditions are right, chickweed can grow anywhere, from compost heaps to cracks in the sidewalk, as long as the conditions are balanced enough for it to thrive.
Relationships, Friendships, and Community: Chickweed prefers to grow in groups and clusters, but even within these clusters each flower maintains its own individuality, and survives and thrives in balance with every other sprig of chickweed it shares its space with. Chickweed teaches us a valuable lesson when it comes to our relationships in that it teaches us how to live in balance with ourselves and those around us. Chickweed expresses the magic of balance within a group. Each spring has it’s own individuality that it expresses, yet it still lives in union and harmony within the cluster where it grows.
Endurance and Persistence: Chickweed is very difficult to get rid of. To completely remove it from an environment can require repeated tilling during dry weather, completely burying the herb, or plowing it under just as Winter arrives, and even then, there are no guarantees you will have rid yourself of her. In chickweed’s persistence and stubbornness, you can see her express her enduring and persevering energy. Her seeds can remain fertile and germinate for up to 40 years, and even under the thickest blanket of snow, she can still survive and thrive. Only the harshest frost is enough to take her down.
Protection and Strength: Chickweed has protective energies. Characteristic of chickweed is a thin strip of fur that can only be found along one side of the stem. This strip of fur provides a modicum of protection for this very strong plant. Her white petals also express the protective energies laden within the plant.
Lunar and Stellar Energies: Chickweed is connected to Lunar energies. It is connected to women’s cycles and is even used as an herbal remedy for menstrual aches and pains. Chickweed’s scientific name is Stellaria Media, which means “mid-sized star,” due to its star-shaped petals.
Animal and Bird-Magic: Chickweed is connected to animal energies, specifically birds. It gets its name from the fact that it is often fed to baby chickens. It’s seeds also rely on animals and birds to travel from place to place, and it is commonly fed to poultry and farm animals.
Love and Fidelity: Chickweed has magical associations with love. It is believed that carrying a sprig of chickweed can attract love. Putting a little chickweed in your partner’s dish can strengthen fidelity and help maintain a good marriage. As per European folklore, carrying a sprig of chickweed is said to help promote loyalty and faithfulness of a loved one. To attract love, consider mixing chickweed, roses, and orange blossoms to your bath water.
Travel: Although chickweed is Native to Europe, its seeds have traveled far and wide to every corner of the planet. There is not a country on Earth you can go where chickweed cannot be found. Chickweed employs many modes of travel. The seeds are carried underfoot, by the wind, ants, and animals to travel throughout the world with relative ease. Chickweed was also familiar amongst sailors, who would use chickweed vinegar to stave off scurvy when fresh citrus was not available.
Fertility and Abundance: Chickweed has a copious amount of seeds, hence why it is often associated with fertility and abundance. A chickweed plant typically carries at minimum 10 seeds, although they have been known to carry up to an impressive 2,000 seeds! Chickweed growing in the garden attracts abundance to the home.
Luck: Chickweed has an interesting connection to the energy of Luck. It is one of the seven herbs included in a symbolic porridge dish for a Japanese festival called Nanakusa-no-sekku. The Japanese use seven, different herbs in this symbolic dish, including shepherd’s purse, nipplewort and radishes, and during preparation petition the energies of good fortune as they cut the nanakusa (seven grasses or herbs).’
I am not a qualified herbalist, nor do I claim to be. I am passionate about natural healing and I share what I have learned and how I personally use or apply the herbs in my own life. Always do your own research, and only use herbs once you are certain they are safe and have consulted with either your doctor or a qualified herbalist. Your health is in your hands.
I welcome your feedback on my article.
In no particular order, information has been found from the following links which you are welcome to click on for further reading, should you wish too: