Chickweed! Most prolific of farm weeds, in fall and spring. Sweet, tender, and abundant superfood!
Latin name: Stellaria media
Parts used: Leaves, stems, and flowers
Key constituents: Vitamin C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, coumarins, saponins
Safety: Safe. No known toxicity or contraindications.
Medicinal Uses: "Chickweed is a nourishing tonic for improving overall energy levels" (Richo Cech, Making Plant Medicine).
"Chickweed is a star in the herb world"...It "is a major herb for addressing skin irritation, eye inflammation, and kidney and liver disorders" (Rosemary Gladstar, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide).
Chickweed is known for it's emollient and demulcent properties - it is cooling, soothing, and moisturizing. It is used to treat irritated or infected eyes and skin. As a salve, it is also used for it's anti-inflammatory properties as a treatment for arthritic or rheumatic joints. Taken internally, it can ease coughs and sore throats, and also have a soothing effect on the digestive system.
Recommendations for use:
The easiest way to enjoy and reap the benefits of chickweed is to eat it! Use the fresh product quickly as it does not have a long shelf-life. Munch, snack, or add chickweed to any salad. Put it on a sandwich in place of sprouts. Put it in your smoothie or pesto. Delicious!
Salve: A fairly simple recipe can be found at Learning Herbs. For this recipe, you'll need a double boiler. The soothing salve can be used for dry skin, rashes, bug bites, wounds, or other skin irritations.
Preserve it: Chickweed does not dry well, so it is best used fresh. To preserve chickweed, consider making an infusion (tea) and freezing in ice cube trays. Herbalists also recommend blending fresh chickweed with a minimal amount of water (enough to liquefy it) and freezing the resulting puree in ice cube trays. Pop out the cubes when fully frozen, place them in a freezer bag, and you will have chickweed whenever needed. You can apply cubes directly to irritated skin, thaw and use as an eyewash (tea only), add to a bath, or add to winter broths for a nutrition boost.