Chickweed (Stellaria media), also sometimes called starweed, is considered an annoyance to many gardeners seeking to exorcise it from their lawns. This delicate-looking plant with thin, fuzzy stems and small white flowers grows wild over much of North America, throughout parts of Asia and Europe and even as far north as Greenland.
Although it is generally dismissed as a weed, you may be surprised to learn that chickweed has a rich nutritional profile, as well as a variety of time-tested medicinal functions in folk remedies.
The following are just a few of the ways in which chickweed can enrich your health.
Makes for a fresh, nutrient-rich meal option
Chickweed is rich in vitamins, including vitamins A, several B-vitamins and a good amount of vitamin C. It also contains an array of minerals, including calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc, as well as several potent antioxidant compounds, including flavonoids, coumarins, rutin and saponins.
These nutrients and antioxidants work together to fight inflammation throughout the body’s systems, supporting immune health, cardiovascular function and more to reduce the risk of a multitude of chronic conditions.
The stems, flowers, leaves and seeds of the Stellaria media plant are edible, though the leaves are the most commonly eaten part. They can be served raw in salads, quickly steamed or sauteed, or added to soups and stews about five minutes before cooking is complete.
The flavor of raw chickweed somewhat resembles cornsilk, and the cooked greens have a fresh spring flavor. They are usually chopped before serving or cooking.
Supports digestive health and weight loss
Chickweed has a mildly laxative effect on the body, and can help gently cleanse the colon of toxins and build-up. It is also traditionally used for its diuretic properties, and may help ease bloating.
Its appetite-suppressing qualities have also given it a role in folk medicine as a weight loss aid. If you find yourself having cravings for unhealthy foods between meals, chickweed can help you to curb them.
For this purpose, brewing dried chickweed leaves in boiling water to make a tea is an effective delivery method, or you can eat the greens as a healthy snack.
Soothes skin irritation
Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, the leaves of the chickweed plant can be crushed and applied to a range of skin irritations for soothing relief. These include eczema, psoriasis, minor rashes, burns and cuts, abscesses and itchy, irritated skin in general. Applying a crushed chickweed paste to the skin may also help to clear up acne.
When using chickweed externally for this purpose, it can either be simply crushed and applied on its own, or mixed with organic, extra virgin coconut oil or bentonite clay, depending on the type of application.
Boosts the immune system
The vitamin C and other antioxidants found in chickweed can provide support for the immune system, helping to prevent and recover from illness. In ancient times, this plant was often given to individuals who had just gotten over a sickness to help them regain their strength. Drinking chickweed tea if you have a cold or flu may help to reduce recovery time.
Chickweed can also be used as a key ingredient in a detox, along with a healthy diet of whole, nutritious foods. It has been traditionally used in folk remedies as a tonic to cleanse the blood, kidneys and liver.
Along with providing immune system support, chickweed tea may help to ease the symptoms of colds, allergies, sinusitis and respiratory infections. This is thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, which have a gentle, soothing effect on mucus membranes and the respiratory tract. For this reason, it may help to dissipate coughs, as well.
Note: Chickweed is considered to be safe, however, it may cause a reaction in those with daisy allergies. Pregnant and lactating women should not consume chickweed. If you have a health condition and are considering chickweed as part of a natural healing plan, talk to a health professional just to be safe.
This versatile little plant can be found growing virtually everywhere, likely even in your own backyard. Due to lawn pesticides and other weed-killer and fertilizers, however, be careful where you pick it from, to avoid exposure to these chemicals.
Who knew a little flowering weed could be so good for you?
-The Alternative Daily