Chickweed is a common weed that belongs to the carnation family. Growing low to the ground, chickweed produces a hairy stem with small, star-shaped white flowers. It commonly grows in North America and Europe, and herbalists have used it in alternative remedies for many years. Although it’s a weed that many people dig up to throw out, chickweed does offer significant health benefits.
According to historical records, chickweed has had a prominent place in folk medicine since the 16th century. Healers made the flowers, leaves, and stems of the plant into extracts, teas, and oral decoctions. In present day, people commonly incorporate it into ointments to help remedy numerous skin conditions. There is a history of using chickweed to accelerate the healing of wounds, in addition to remedying other skin issues.
Experts don’t recommend that you take chickweed by mouth because there may be potential toxicities. That doesn’t stop people in some cultures from consuming it for its health properties. Many people in Japan, for example, consume it during Nanakusa-no-sekku, a springtime festival, because it promotes weight loss. Continue reading to learn about a few more health benefits.
First Off…Foraging For Chickweed
You won’t find chickweed in the store, but you can easily find it in the wild. Don your finest foraging attire and head to your backyard or hiking trail. Chickweed likes to grow in patches and it grows like a ground cover. It’s somewhat of a bushy plant with star-shaped white flowers. In case chickweed is not flowering, use the following picture for reference.
May Fight Germs And Promote Wound Healing
Chickweed has the potential to help accelerate wound healing and may even fight germs. It has many purposes in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), primarily for skin conditions like dermatitis. In Britain and Ireland, chickweed was commonly used in folk remedies for reducing irritation and itchiness on the skin. It was also able to help accelerate wound healing. One test-tube study found that chickweed juice was able to fight the hepatitis B virus. The study found that applying the juice to an HBV-infected liver cell line for six straight days reduced the growth and production by 25%.
May Reduce Inflammation
One review found that applying whole chickweed to swollen areas, even broken bones, provided anti-inflammatory relief. The chickweed also helped to soothe the area and decrease irritation. A separate review found that the entire plant may be beneficial for combatting inflammation, in regards to inflamed skin or joints.
DIY Chickweed Salve
This salve is beneficial for sore joints and numerous skin ailments. To help calm damaged skin and improve complexion, there is the addition of lavender essential oil. If you have any chickweed allergies, please do not use this salve. Additionally, always do a small patch test in a non-sensitive area to ensure that the salve does not give you a negative reaction.
- 1/2 cup dried chickweed herb
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup beeswax, grated or chopped
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- In a heat-safe glass bowl or measuring up, combine the chickweed and oil.
- In a small pot, make sure there is about an inch or so of water. Place it over medium-low heat and place the glass bowl/measuring cup with the oil in the pot.
- Once the water is simmering, turn the heat down to a low simmer and let the chickweed infuse in the oil for three hours. You’ll need to refill the water as needed so that it doesn’t all evaporate.
- Remove from the heat and strain the chickweed through a fine mesh sieve, saving the oil in a heat-safe glass measuring cup.
- Add the beeswax and infused oil back to the original glass bowl/measuring cup that you used for infusion. Place it in the pot over medium heat, ensuring that there is a little water in the bottom. Stir until the wax is fully melted.
- Remove from heat and stir in the essential oil. Pour into salve containers (glass or tin) and allow the mixture to harden at room temperature. Use as needed and store in a cool, dry place.