The Wonderful World of Edible & Medicinal Weeds – Chickweed

ChickweedChickweed (Stellaria media – means little stars)

In the early 1900’s Chickweed was sold as a superfood in grocery stores throughout Europe, until people realized it was the same precious plant that was growing ‘everywhere’! This wonderful weed pops up in lawns, pastures, waste areas and anywhere there is moist soil and shady areas. Just like Plantain, Chickweed naturalized itself wherever the white man has settled, becoming another of the commonest and most useful weeds.

As an Edible Weed this Super-green is filled with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B12, C & D + Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, phosphorus, manganese, Selenium, Zinc, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Oleic-acid, Flavonoids, Bioflavonoids, phytonutrients, and saponins.

I was so excited to find some of this wonderful weed growing round the shaded side of the house. There are some bonuses to not mowing lawns! And Mmmm it is so delicious. If you are just starting out eating some of our wonderfully wild weeds this is a good one to start with as it has a deliciously crunchy mild flavor raw and tastes like spinach when it is cooked. I like to eat it as a salad green or make pesto with it, but it can also used in soups and stews as well or stir-fried.

Paracelsus in 1530 described Chickweed as ‘The elixir of life . . .one of the supreme healers’.

It is being recognized more and more that a lot of chronic health problems are caused by or at least exacerbated by inflammation, including joint pain, digestive upsets, blood vessel disease, memory problems, and even some cancers. Regular use of chickweed can take the heat out of inflammation, both internally and externally.

Chickweed soothes, cools, and removes bacteria. Women with “hot” bladders or cystitis adore chickweed fresh or as a tea, for its soothing and healing effects. It is also great to sip on the tea if you have a cold or flu.

Medicinal tea: To 1 tbs. dried herb, or 2 if it is fresh, add 2 cups boiling water and steep for at least 20 min. A little honey can be added to the tea for flavour if needed. Drink ½ – 1 cup, 2 to 4 times daily.

Chickweed contains soapy substances, called saponins that dissolve and break down unwanted matter, including disease-causing bacteria, cysts, benign tumors, thickened mucus in the respiratory and digestive systems, and excess fat cells. Yes, it even helps break down fat cells, assisting with weight loss!

A poultice of stems and leaves enclosed in muslin is often used to ease arthritis, joint pains, eczema, burns, itching, stings and other skin irritations, as well as for carbuncles, abscess or ulcers. Or you can bathe the affected area with Chickweed tea.

Another easy way to enjoy the amazing topical healing ability of Chickweed is in ‘Christie’s Miracle Balm’, a natural anti-septic healing cream.

This magical plant is also a back yard barometer, with it’s leaves folding up when it’s going to rain. The leaves also fold up at night. So Cute!  By the way, it is called chickweed because chickens love it.

Chickweed-flower

Chickweed is a bright green creeping plant, low to the ground with little white starry flowers. A very special key to identify Chickweed is to look for a very fine line of hairs that run up the stems and change sides of the stem at each leaf node. This is a unique signature of this special healer as are the little white starry flowers. It also has no milky sap in the stem. The leaves are egg-shaped, about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch broad, with a short point, pale green and quite smooth.

So, grab your scissors, and harvest some Chickweed for dinner tonight. You’ll make a new friend who can really help your everyday health and well-being, and not only when times are tough.

Untitled-2Shared on: From the Farm, Simply Natural Saturday, Simple Saturdays, Natural Living Monday, Old Fashioned Friday, Wildcrafting Wednesday

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