Chickweed is a common weed in many gardens, which is why most people don’t even think about using it. In fact, instead of pulling out a clump of chickweed and having it for lunch, they spend lots of hard-earned green, just to get rid of the green. And that’s a huge waste of a very nutritious food.
Often referred to as the “snow in the summer” due to its small white star-shaped flowers that usually bloom in the spring and last until autumn, chickweed is actually quite tasty as well as being packed with nutrition, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and Gamma-linolenic-acid.
If you aren’t 100 percent sure that you have chickweed growing at your place, it’s important not to mistake it for a poisonous pretender, and there are some reasonably close look-alikes. What makes it different, is that it doesn’t have any milky sap, and you’ll see a line of hairs on its stem which changes sides with each pair of leaves. If you bend the stem and rotate each end counter to each other, then gently pull the outer part of the stem, it should separate, but the inner part will not, so you should have a stretched inner part between the two stem ends.
Chickweed is said to offer multiple benefits, some of which include:
1. Aiding Weight Loss
There is an old wives tale that claims chickweed is good for treating obesity, and there are many products aimed to help people lose weight that contain it as an ingredient, but could there be any truth to that tale? Chickweed has been found to help the body eliminate toxic substances as a diuretic and mild laxative, and it’s even been used in traditional Indian medicine to prevent obesity. Research has shown that consuming chickweed had a positive effect in mice when it comes to body weight and food consumption as well as adiposity index. It’s likely to be helpful because it emulsifies fat cells which result in more fat being burned in addition to detoxing the system. When toxins are allowed to build up in the body, the organs hold onto fat as a form of protection, which is one of the reasons a detox can help you lose weight.
2. Lowering Inflammation
Chickweed contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can lower the risk of, or help heal, many different types of inflammation-related diseases, including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and more. It’s been shown to strengthen the lining of the stomach and the intestines, and even heal stomach ulcers. Research published in the African Journal of Biomedical Research in 2012 demonstrated that not only did chickweed relieve inflammation, but it mediated the release of histamine and induced analgesic properties, meaning it has the ability to ease pain. It helps to stimulate the production of mucosal fluids, which provides a cooling effect on inflammation that enhances the healing process and can lessen the swelling and pain of inflamed joints.
Read Next: How To Reduce Inflammation In 9 Easy Steps
3. It Acts As An Expectorant To Ease Respiratory Conditions
As chickweed functions as an expectorant, it can also help ease respiratory conditions. It soothes mucous membranes, helps to expel phlegm and is especially useful for sinus and respiratory issues that directly involve the mucous membranes. It may help relieve asthma, bronchitis, allergies, itchy and inflamed eyes, the symptoms of the flu and other health problems. Research has even shown that it can prevent the growth of bacteria that leads to tuberculosis.
4. Speeds Up Wound Healing & Aids Skin Issues
As this beneficial herb contains antifungal and antiseptic properties, it can also be used to prevent faster wound healing and to prevent infections. It’s also great for soothing itchy skin and rashes, eczema and burns as it cools and relieves inflamed areas. You can thank the cleansing effects of chickweed, at least in part, to its demulcent nature as well as its high amounts of chlorophyll that naturally purify the blood and help the liver eliminate toxins. Many chronic skin ailments are often considered a result of liver toxicity and lymph stagnation.
5. A Potent Lymph Cleanser
Chickweed contains a compound known as coumarin, that is currently being reviewed as a potential medical treatment for asthma as well as lymphedema or “lymphatic obstruction.” The lymph system is crucial for the immune system to function properly as well as its ability to battle against harmful pathogens. Lymph nodes throughout the body contain lymph fluid and different types of immune cells, such as lymphocytes, which help filter out waste byproducts and toxic substances. When the lymphatic system becomes congested, it promotes the accumulation of cellular wastes and toxins, which can lead to enlarged lymph nodes, recurrent sore throats, and difficulty recovering from just about any kind of illness. While being active is important to keep lymph fluid moving through the body, foods like chickweed aid in stimulating and clearing the lymph, and can be used in addition to physical activity to promote an enhanced lymphatic response.
Now that you know just what it is, and the many benefits it offers, rather than removing it from your garden or lawn, and wasting all of its potentials, consider one of these many ways that you can utilize this herb.
How To Make A Chickweed Salve To Soothe Skin Conditions
Chickweed, as mentioned, is great for soothing skin conditions. One of the best ways to utilize it for this purpose is to make a chickweed salve. To do so, harvest two handfuls of the plant – the plant material will lose a lot of moisture, but it won’t be completely dry, although it still is fresh, retaining its maximum benefits.
First, chop the fresh chickweed finely and arrange it into a thin layer on a cookie sheet. Allow wilting for 12-24 hours. After that period, add the chickweed to your olive oil – there should be roughly equal amounts of both. Next, place the olive oil and chickweed into your food processor or blender, and blend for about 20 seconds.
Place the mixture into the top part of a double boiler, or place a bowl on top of a pan filled with about two inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally and continue to simmer until it feels warm to the touch. Then turn off the heat and allow it to sit for a few hours. Repeat the process by reheating and then cooling, several times over the next 24- to 48-hours in order to fully extract the plant material into the oil. Don’t let the oil get so hot that it begins to smoke. After 24 to 48 hours, the chickweed should have infused with the oil, giving the oil a green hue; strain the chickweed through a double layer of cheesecloth and then measure out one cup of the oil.
Now melt your beeswax in a double boiler or a pan on very low heat. Once it has liquified, add it to the chickweed oil and stir well to combine. Add the lavender essential oil, mix and then immediately pour into tins or jars. Allow it to cool until it becomes hard and then store it in a cool place until you’re ready to use it.
How To Make A Chickweed Oil
You can also make a chickweed oil, that can be used directly on problem skin areas, as well as aching joints, or added to a bath for all-over relief. To do so, follow the instructions for the salve as above, stopping after you’ve strained the chickweed through the cheesecloth. Simply pour the oil into a bottle to store for later use.
How To Make A Poultice To Lessen Inflammation & Soothe Body Aches
You can also simply crush the leaves and apply them directly to a bruise or aching body parts to lessen inflammation, remove tension and soothe pain.
Use Chickweed Leaves In A Salad
You can also steam the leaves, or add them raw to a salad to gain all of the nutritional benefits of chickweed. Eaten straight up, its flavor is similar to sweet corn.
Drink Chickweed Tea
As an herbal tea, this herb is great taken internally to alleviate body pains and a number of other conditions. Some of the benefits of drinking this tea include flushing out excess water, toxins and harmful chemicals from the body due to its diuretic properties, as well as supporting weight loss, functioning as a mild laxative and relieving mild respiratory problems, as mentioned previously.
Here’s how you can make your own chickweed tea. You’ll need two teaspoons of dried chickweed and one cup of water.
- Boil water in a pan on the stove or in a tea kettle and then pour into a cup.
- Add the dried chickweed and allow it to steep for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the chickweed leaves by straining it and serve immediately.
Add Chickweed To Sauces, Broths, Soups & Stews
You can easily add this herb to all types of stews, soups, broths, and sauces. Toss some into pesto, or add it to your favorite soup or stew recipe – just be sure to add it only a few minutes before serving as it can easily overcook.