Herb Basics: Chickweed: A Healthy Spring Green

Common name: Chickweed

Latin name: Stellaria media

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Part used: Leaves

Medicinal uses: Fresh chickweed is very nutritious–it contains vitamin C and protein–and is a great addition to a spring salad. Traditionally, the herb was considered soothing to irritated mucous membranes, and the dried herb was made into teas for coughs and hoarseness.

Forms commonly used: Fresh herb, dried herb, capsules, tinctures and teas.

Side effects: Chickweed is a very safe herb, listed in the Botanical Safety Handbook (CRC, 1997) as a Class 1 herb, meaning it can be consumed safely when used appropriately. According to Herbs for Health editorial adviser Steven Foster, in his book 101 Medicinal Herbs (Interweave, 1998), chickweed itself is not associated with side effects, but it may concentrate toxins in contaminated soil and has been known to be toxic to grazing cows.

Notes: Chickweed is thought to be native to southern Europe, but it now grows as a common weed throughout much of the world. Most commercial supplies of the herb come from Europe.

According to renowned herbalist James Duke, Ph.D., chickweed has “quite a folk reputation” as a weight-loss aid. His “Weed Feed” mixture of “slimming, edible weeds” includes chickweed, dandelion, evening primrose, nettle (cooked and cooled), plantain and purslane.

To make chickweed tea, steep 1 teaspoon of the dried herb in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes; strain and drink 1 cup daily.

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