Chickweed – Foraging, and Benefits

Today I’m covering chickweed.

Chickweed grows everywhere! It is one of the first to appear in your outdoor spaces in the spring as it’s seeds sprout very easily.

Chickweed will spread, but if left alone will provide a natural mulch around your bedded plants — allowing for later harvesting!

This one seeded itself in an empty pot of soil leftover from last year, so I left it alone to do it’s thing! If left alone, chickweed can flower up until snowfall.

Plant parts used: Leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds

HARVEST TIME – Summer though late autumn.

This beautiful specimen planted itself this summer, so I allowed it to grow – and bloom. šŸŒø

Harvesting

Gather your chickweed and leave it outdoors for several hours or overnight, allowing for any unwanted pests to ‘fly or crawl’ away!

Drying

Chickweed can be dried in a dehydrator — or in my case over low heat in my convection toaster oven. Low heat will allow it to stay green, drying it without cooking it.

It can also be laid out on clean towels and left out for several days, making sure to flip it over several times for even drying, and mould prevention.

Properties of Chickweed

  • Antipyretic – used to prevent or reduce fever.
  • Antirhumatic – can help to increase circulation and reduce swelling of sprains and strains.
  • Demulcent – can soothe irritated tissue both internally and externally.
  • Diuretic – can temporarily increase the elimination of urine.
  • Often used as a tea or tincture for bladder, kidney, and urinary problems.
  • Expectorant – aids in soothing irritated coughs; softens and assists in the expulsion of phlegm from the lungs, relieves sore throats.
  • Laxative – assists with constipation (see ‘saponins‘ below)
  • Stomachic – increases digestion; and promoting the appetite
  • Vulnerary – wound healing
  • Mucilaginous, making it a hydrating emollient, excellent for skin conditions.
  • It is cooling, astringent, and an anti-inflammatory wound healer.

Medicinal Preparations

Chickweed is strong enough to help draw out infection from a wound or boil — yet gentle enough to use as a wash or poultice for eye irritations, and on the inflamed nipples of a breastfeeding moms.

  • Bath – for a soothing soak
  • Compress – great for inflamed eyes, etc
  • Creams – see salves below
  • Juice – blend it raw
  • Oil – infuse with various oil bases ie olive, sunflower, etc
  • Poultice – for drawing out infection, and soothing inflamed bites/stings/wounds
  • Salves – infused oils combined with other butters and botanicals
  • Tea/Infusion – steeped in hot water
  • Tinctures – alcohol or glycerin base
  • Wash – for eyes, and wounds

Chickweed contains ‘SAPONINS’ that benefit the digestive system as a digestive aid.

Saponins also –

  • regulate intestinal flora
  • regulate colon bacteria and yeasts
  • absorb toxins from the bowel
  • aid/prevent constipation – by lowering the bowel transit time
  • dissolve fat cells – teas and tinctures
  • lower cholesterol

Nutritional Profile

Chickweed is nourishing and can be eaten as a food source! Raw in salads, juices, soups and stews, pastas, smoothies, — or dried in teas/infusions.

Chickweed is high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and usable plant protein.

Cosmetic Uses

Chickweed excels at healing a variety of skin conditions:

  • Acne
  • Rashes
  • Rosacea
  • Dry, itchy skin

It can be added to facial steams, compresses, washes, or made into healing oils, salves, and creams to reduce irritation and redness.

Information sources: My beloved book collection!

I hope you found this article informative, and that you decide to give this a try!

BTW – I made myself a strong hot water infusion by allowing my dried chickweed to sit out on the counter for several hours (and overnight in my refrigerator) before straining. I chose to add some diced fresh ginger to add flavour during the infusion process. The resulting tea was then diluted with fresh cool water and enjoyed throughout the day. I found it refreshing and it didn’t require any sweetener. The chickweed has a delicate flavour which didn’t overcome the ginger. I also added a few drops of lemon essential oil to my second batch — it was amazing!!

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