The healing power of chickweed

Chickweed is easy to identify because the stems have white hairs on one side. It is a delicious herb or vegetable and grows easily to a height of 3 to 40 centimeters. It decorates a garden with all kinds of small flowers; it is an edible ornamental plant. It is unworthy of being classified as a weed. Anyone who keeps birds in a cage would do well to ensure that chickweed grows in the garden; birds love fresh chickweed. It is astringent, carminative, emollient, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, cooling and wound healing. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing of chickweed / Source: Carl Axel Magnus Lindman, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Contents:

  • Prevent chickweed
  • Traditional use of chickweed
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Wallwort for itching
  • Wallwort, a general tonic
  • Other medicinal effects of chickweed
  • Dose and safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Prevent chickweed

Chickweed is a plant found all over the world, but it is most commonly seen in Europe, West Asia and North America. It sometimes appears spontaneously in the garden and prefers to grow in fallow fields, along ditch banks and in orchards. In the wild it can grow in a variety of conditions and terrains. It can withstand full sun but also does well in partial shade. It is used as a medicinal plant in phytotherapy.

Traditional use of chickweed

Chickweed is used in traditional folk medicine to make a tea for lung, bladder and kidney diseases. It is even used in folk medicine for tuberculosis and blood coughing. According to folk customs, a wrap helps with lupus, skin rashes and growths. The decoction can be used as an eye wash for some eye conditions. Furthermore, chickweed is a wild vegetable; it is picked, flowers and stems and all, and added to a meal. You can cut it small to use in a yogurt dressing for a salad. But it can also be done on bread instead of alfalfa. It can also be added to a mixed salad, in soup, or as an addition to mashed potatoes.

Naming

In Latin, chickweed is called Stellaria media . In Dutch, this plant has a few alternative names: Wallwort, Gooseweed, Duck Intestine, Hoenderbeet, Hornwort, Antseed, Star Wall, Bird’s Eye Herb and White Wall. The references to the birds are an indication that these species eat chickweed. The flowers resemble a star, hence the name stellaria. In Frisian the plant is called Túnerf.

Active substances

The herb growing above ground is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. It contains the following important active ingredients: saponin glycosides, the flavonoid rutin, vitamin C, coumarins, hydroxycoumarins, carboxylic acids, triterpenes, fatty oil, silicon, magnesium and potassium.

Wallwort for itching

Wallwort is soothing, cooling and anti-inflammatory. It also has an astringent or astringent effect. It is seen in phytotherapy as the best herb to prevent itching. This effect does not seem to be confirmed by science, but in practice chickweed is often the only effective remedy for skin irritation and itching. That is why chickweed is used in ointments aimed at relieving itching. In phytotherapy it is mainly used for the following skin problems:

  • Eczema,
  • Psoriasis,
  • Superficial inflammations,
  • Swellings,
  • Rheumatic pains,
  • Wounds,
  • Varicose ulcers.

Wallwort, a general tonic

Wallwort is a good remedy for a wide variety of conditions. This is partly because it contains a great diversity of nutrients and the phytonutrients together have a synenergetic or mutually reinforcing effect. It has a tonic activity or a general strengthening effect and is mainly used in phytotherapy for the following indications:

Stellaria media or chickweed / Source: Jeantosti, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

  • Fatigue,
  • Recovery after illness or surgery,
  • palpitations,
  • Respiratory diseases.

Other medicinal effects of chickweed

  • Chickweed is diuretic; it helps moisture to drain faster.
  • Chickweed soothes the bladder and kidneys.
  • This herb reduces inflammation in the stomach.
  • It counteracts gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn in the throat.

Dose and safety

There are a number of ways to use this medicinal plant to achieve the desired medicinal effect.

  • A handful of chickweed can be mixed in the blender with fruit or vegetable juice.
  • A handful of herb can be used in a liter of water to make tea. You can drink a cup of this before every meal.
  • Chickweed is a safe product; it can even be eaten. You can prepare it in the same way as spinach.
  • The herb must be used fresh to achieve the best possible effect.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.