🌿This month’s herb of the month is Chickweed, or Stellaria media.
🌿Botanical name and description:
Stellaria media – ‘Chickweed’ (Caryophyllaceae). Chickweed is a common herb growing wild throughout gardens worldwide, often mistaken for a weed as it is hearty self-sowing plus is frost and drought resistant. Chickweed is a sprawling light green mat-like groundcover exhibiting small oval leaves and tiny star-shaped white flowers; the slender, weak stems, about 15-40cm long, are swollen at the nodes with fine hairs along the stem’s length. Depending on the climate, Chickweed, can fruit and flower all year round, the aerial parts are harvested just prior to or during flowering. Indeed, Chickweed is nutritionally rich in iron, copper, and calcium plus comprises manganese, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, B complex, & C. The main constitutes of Chickweed include saponins, coumarins, and flavonoids.
A household herb used extensively for centuries, both medicinally and culinarily, even more so than in current practice; perchance introduced from Europe.
A potherb and salad vegetable, Chickweed was prepared fresh/steamed and eaten to cleanse the kidneys and liver or utilized as feed for chickens and rabbits. Externally, Chickweed was applied to liver inflammation and cramps. In folk medicine, Chickweed, is considered for all ailments of inflammation, ulceration and for arthritic and rheumatic pain.
Often administered externally in a cream, poultice or compress to treat many acute and chronic skin ailments, including pruritic conditions [itches, eczemna, psoriasis] plus abscess, ulcers, boils, cuts, and bruises. Also, Chickweed may assist matters of rheumatism, digestive complaints, and for detoxification to cleanse and strengthen the emunctories. Care should be taken due to the saponins.
🌿Science and clinical trials:
The current evidence-base, both in-vitro and using mice, acknowledges Chickweed with immense therapeutic potential displaying anti-obesity, antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic actions.