Thursday, December 26, 2013
Chickweed-Stellaria Jamesiana, Stellaria Longifolia, Stellaria Longpipes, Stellaria Umbellata, Stellaria Obtusa, Stellaria Media
Also known as: Scarwort, Adder's Mouth, Stitchwort, Satin Flower, Star Weed, Winterweed, Chickenweed, Rongue-Grass
Parts used: aerial parts
Meridans/Organs affected: lungs, stomach, skin, bowel, circulatory, urinary, digestive, respiratory
Properties: demulcent, nutritive, resolvent, emollient, pectoral, alterative, refrigerant, mucilage, discutient, antitussive, antipyretic, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory
Chickweed is a member of the Pink family and a cousin to the Carnation. It is one of the most widely distributed plants in the world, being found from the Artic Circle to the Equator and all points south. It is a weak-stemmed annual commonly found sprawling on the ground or with other plants (it is often found entangled with rose bushes).
There are close to a hundred species of chickweed but the one used most for culinary and/or medicinal purposes is Stellaria Media. Opposite ovate leaves grow along its stock and the flowers are tiny and white with five petals; but these are cleft at the tip so it appears as if they have 10 petals. Although it is considered an annual it spreads relentlessly and continually drop seeds as it blooms. Chickweed has a distinguishing feature as well; it has a single line of hairs that run up one side of the stalk, switching sides at each leaf seat. It can be found in ravines, moist meadows, disturbed areas, hedge banks, waste places, etc. It will bloom March through to November but is best collected between May and July between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Chickweed is a common salad green in many countries and has been for centuries. It was once sold on the streets of London by country folk. It has been made into pesto with pine nuts as well as mixed into soups, salads and sandwiches, and is used much the same as spinach. It is called chickweed because birds love it. It also gives them better health and provides nutrient rich eggs.
Dioscorides speaks of using chickweed crushed with cornmeal as a poultice for eye afflictions. Apparently, it works quite well in this regard as it is spoken of a lot in documents about chickweed. In truth, chickweed has a number of uses, especially where the skin is concerned. It has been used to soften the skin and to heal skin conditions. It helps with insect bites, skin ulcers, minor wounds, rashes, inflammations and sunburns. It is equally as effective internally for such things as pulmonary conditions, bleeding bowels or bleeding lungs, weak stomach, internal inflammatory conditions and oral complaints. Dr. Christopher used it for asthma, bronchitis, hemorrhoids, rectal cancer, blood poisoning, constipation, inflamed or ruptured appendix, swollen or burning genitalia, boils, deafness, itching, hives and as part of the famous black ointment.
Jethro Kloss said it is excellent for rheumatism, hoarseness, coughs and colds, scurvy, tumors, cancer and blood disorders.
Chickweed is high in iron, zinc, potassium, copper, magnesium, calcium, vitamins A, C, B6, B12 and D, saponins and antioxidants. In fact, it is higher in iron and zinc than any other domesticated green. It also contains a good amount of chlorophyll.
As chickweed is mucilaginous (this is where the saponins come in) it is a soothing agent to any kind of inflammatory condition. It is also a cooling herb, making it equally helpful to both inflammation and yang conditions. It has a reputation for clearing stubborn, long-lasting conditions such as eczema, varicose veins and rheumatic joints.
American herbalist Susun Weed said to.."think of chickweed as being soft as slippery elm, as soothing as marshmallow and as protective and strengthening as comfrey root." It has been used as a blood purifier and to reduce fat deposits in the liver, blood and arteries.
Chickweed is also high in oxalates s should only be used for short periods of time internally. It also has a poisonous look-alike called "Scarlet Pimpernel"-the Scarlet Pimpernel plant has red flowers though, which is one way to tell the tow plants apart for the most part except the poisonous variety also has small dots sprinkled across the underside of its leaves.
As is customary with my posts I am including some links below for your perusal. Use them as you see fit. Live long and prosper! :)