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Chickweed

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Scientific name: Stellaria media

Other Names: Adder’s Mouth, Passerina, Satin Flower, Starweed, Starwort, Stitchwort, Tongue-Grass, Winterweed

Habitat: The plant is found worldwide.

Leaves, Stem and Root

The plant is 5 to 30 cm high. The stem is decumbent and weak, heavily branched and often grows to an impressive length. It creeps along the ground, is fleshy, pale green, and slightly thickened at the nodes. The leaves are opposite and orbicular-ovate. The lower ones are long-petioled and the upper ones are sessile. They are 1.25cm long and 0.70 cm wide and sit in pairs on the stem.

Flower and Fruit

The solitary white flowers are located in the leaf or branch axils. They open at 9 am and, in good weather, remain open for 12 hours. The 5 double petals are shorter than the oblong-lanceolate sepals. There are 2 to 5 stamens and 3 stigma. The fruit is globular or ovate and covered in teeth. It opens when ripe and the seeds are shaken out through the movement of the plant.

Constituents

Saponin glycosides, coumarins, flavonoids, vitamin C.

Action

Alterative, demulcent, emollient, vulnerary, anti-itch, antirheumatic, mild laxative. A ‘cold’ (refrigerant) agent, dispelling excess body heat. Cools, soothes and relieves irritation.

Medicinal Parts

The medicinal part is the fresh flowering or dried herb.

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Usage and Indication

Internally chickweed is used for rheumatism, gout, stiffness of the joints, tuberculosis, and diseases of the blood. Externally, it is used for poorly healing wounds, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the eyes, eczema and other diverse skin diseases.

Ancient English remedy for chronic skin conditions. Boils, painful eruptions, varicose ulcers, abscess, etc. Muscular rheumatism, inflamed gouty joints (ointment or poultice). Takes the heat out of itchy skin.

Preparations

Tea: 2 teaspoons dried herb to each cup or, 1 oz to 1 pint, boiling water; infuse 15 minutes. Fresh herb, double quantity; simmer 10 minutes: 1 cup, 3 times daily.

Use tea for cleansing.

Liquid extract BHP (1983): 1:1 in 25 per cent alcohol: dose – 1-5ml.

Tincture BHP (1983): 1:5 in 45 per cent alcohol: dose – 2-10ml.

Poultice: handful bruised Chickweed in muslin bag; use rolling pin until bag weeps juice; apply to affected area (varicose ulcer, etc). OR: 1oz dried leaves in bag; steep in boiling water; apply warm.

Chickweed Ointment: 1 part clean Chickweed to 4 parts fat. Place all in a stone jar in a hot oven. Steep 2-3 hours. Strain through a wire mesh strainer or clean cloth into another jar. When cold, ready for use.

Lotion: Take a pot or other suitable receptacle, fill with fresh Chickweed well pressed down. Pour on Sunflower seed oil (or other preferred oil) to saturation point. Allow to steep for 2 weeks, strain and bottle. Apply lid or cap and use for eczema and other skin diseases. (Christopher Hedley, MNIMH)

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Dosage

Mode of Administration: The herb is used as a tea or in the form of juice for poultices, and in baths for medicinal purposes.

Reference(s)

PDR for Herbal Medicines by Joerg Gruenwald, PhD and Thomas Brendler, BA etal.
Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Thomas Bartram

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