Growing up, I lived in a small Canadian town that was surrounded by natural beauty. The great outdoors was and still is a major part of my life. I grew up in a household where I was taught to be in touch with nature. To this day, I camp and hike every chance I get.
As I grew older, I began to have an immense appreciation for vegetation and the wild edibles found throughout Ontario and across North America. From asparagus to arrowhead, bulrush to chicory, there is a long list of plants that are edible when eaten raw. Many are even tastier when cooked!
Chickweed is one of those plants. It is most certainly a favorite snack for the rabbit that lives in my yard. Although he happily nibbles away, as humans, we can also benefit from this small garden weed. They are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, magnesium, iron, calcium and more. Here’s what chickweed can do for you and how you can utilize its benefits.
Why care about chickweed?
When you think of weeds, you may associate these types of plant species with yard work. And on that note, if you are someone who combats weeds each spring, please use natural methods and avoid toxic weed killers. Natural methods will most certainly do the trick, but in some cases, “pesky” weeds can actually benefit your health — like chickweed.
Known for its ability to target inflammation, chickweed also offers a wide range of other unique benefits. When you learn to identify chickweed, you may find a lifetime supply in your yard. After foraging this weed, you can make anything from spring salads to teas, salves to tinctures. It may also encourage you to utilize other healing or nutrient-rich plants in your area.
Containing what’s known as saponins, chickweed can increase the permeability of cell membranes and in turn, increase nutrient absorption. It also has the ability to break down anything from benign tumors to excess fat cells. Here’s what some of the research has to say about chickweed and its potential health-boosting effects.
It acts as an anti-inflammatory
Chronic inflammation has been linked to a wide range of diseases, including cancer. Luckily, we can benefit from a range of anti-inflammatory ingredients within our diet. The mucilage content of chickweed has been shown to heal stomach ulcers and other areas of inflammation. It also strengthens the lining of intestines and the stomach.
Within one study, published in the African Journal of Biomedical Research, rats and mice were studied based on chickweed’s anti-inflammatory properties. Not only did researchers find that this herb soothed inflammation, it also induced analgesic properties, mediating the release of histamine.
When taken for both internal and external use, chickweed stimulates the production of mucosal fluids, offering a cooling effect on inflammation. In turn, irritation is soothed and the healing process is enhanced. In terms of arthritis, a chickweed tincture can help reduce swollen, inflamed joints.
For those who suffer from arthritis or gout, 20 to 30 drops of chickweed tincture daily can help relieve symptoms that interfere with your quality of life. Since these conditions can lead to uric acid accumulation in the body, many experts recommend a liver and bowel cleanse. Some of the best herbs to do so include chickweed, dandelion, licorice and milk thistle.
Improves bowel health and symptoms of constipation
Speaking of a colon cleanse, chickweed can improve symptoms of constipation while removing excess toxins from the body. Not only will chickweed promote a colon cleanse, but it will also help build the muscles within your stomach and colon, preventing constipation in the future.
When taken regularly, chickweed will promote digestion and improve a number of stomach-related conditions. Both your colon and bowel health are essential when aiming to maintain positive well-being. And in order to improve problematic symptoms, your diet is the best place to start.
Acting as a mild stimulant laxative, chickweed can help target symptoms of constipation without any significant side effects. Once the bowel is stimulated, passing stool becomes much easier. And when taken regularly, you can prevent hemorrhoids and other complications caused by constipation.
On that note, if you often suffer from hemorrhoids, a chickweed tincture can be highly beneficial to use in a bath. Not only will a chickweed bath provide relief for this condition, but can also help treat a range of external conditions that are caused by inflamed skin.
You can either add 5 to 10 drops of a chickweed tincture to your bath or tie a few handfuls of fresh chickweed in muslin. Squeeze the bag to release its contents. Depending on what you’re trying to treat, the addition of apple cider vinegar can also be useful, especially in terms of hemorrhoids.
Can support weight loss efforts
Obesity is sweeping the globe, as the excessive accumulation of fat threatens and impairs positive health. Now being seen as an epidemic, it’s important that we focus on reducing rates of obesity in order to target increasing rates of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and even some forms of cancer.
An old wives’ tale claims that chickweed is an effective remedy for obesity. But until recently, this association was not clinically studied. Throughout the research, it’s been stated that the flavonoids, tannins and saponins found in chickweed may offer promising effects against obesity.
Within one key study, researchers were interested in chickweed’s effect against progesterone-induced obesity in female mice. This hormone stimulates the uterus in preparation for pregnancy and has been shown to increase food intake. In fact, reports suggest that when utilizing a progesterone-containing contraceptive, significant weight gain and increased fat deposition may occur.
When progesterone was administered, mice showed a significant increase in body weight in comparison to the control group. Once these mice were given medium and high doses of chickweed, however, they exhibited a significant reduction in body weight. When administered orally, chickweed extracts reduced the level of circulating lipids, decreased food consumption and reduced lipid metabolism.
This is why many obesity medications utilize chickweed as a key ingredient. Based on its vitamin C, phosphorus and gamma-linolenic acid content, these substances have been shown to aid in the emulsification of fat cells. When sprinkled onto daily meals, it can also decrease cravings and overall appetite while boosting your intake of key nutrients.
May improve symptoms of asthma and other respiratory complications
Since chickweed is known to target inflammation, this remedy has been shown to improve respiratory conditions, including asthma. This chronic inflammatory condition causes challenging symptoms, such as shortness of breath, cough and wheezing. Not fully understood, this condition is more than likely caused by a relationship between both environmental and genetic factors.
With that being said, most researchers believe that the major issue surrounding asthma is immunological. A compound in chickweed known as coumarin is believed to be a potential treatment for asthma, as well as conditions caused by a compromised lymph system.
Also, based on the saponins found in chickweed, this herb can reduce thickened membranes in the lungs and throat, improving one’s ability to breathe. Since these chemical constituents also fight inflammation and infection, chickweed is able to target a range of respiratory ailments.
If you’re suffering from the common cold or flu this winter, a chickweed tea or tincture is an ideal solution. Not only can you thin mucus build up, but also lessen overall production with the use of chickweed. Whether you are suffering from bronchitis or asthma, you can benefit from the tincture recipe below.
Help treat skin conditions and promote healing
Chickweed has long been used a traditional remedy for a variety of skin ailments. Based on its emollient properties, chickweed has been shown to soothe itching and irritation, while enhancing the healing of wounds. Offering a cooling effect, chickweed will target skin eruptions, eczema, insect bites and even treat minor burns.
Based on chickweed’s ability to soothe skin conditions, poultices can be applied to cuts, burns and bruises. When making a poultice, you can effectively treat rashes and abscesses based on chickweed’s ability to prevent bacterial infections. This was verified in one key study, which reported chickweed’s therapeutic properties against bacterial infections.
If you would like to specifically target your skin health, I would recommend a chickweed salve. Whether you have a rash or suffer from itchy, inflamed skin, a simple DIY recipe will not only clean your skin but offer cooling relief. All you’ll need is chickweed, olive oil, beeswax and essential oils of our choice. Check out this video to make a salve for yourself.
Cleanses and reduces plaque in the blood
Many individuals drink chickweed tea in order to purify their blood. While cleansing your blood, you will essentially target toxins that may contribute to poor health. The same is true for your kidney and liver, as chickweed offers a range of purifying benefits — leading to an enhanced effect overall.
Since this herb acts as a natural diuretic, it will help you flush excess waste from your body and in turn, improve kidney function. For those who suffer from polycystic kidney disease, for instance, they are no longer able to discharge waste effectively, resulting in toxic accumulation. If you suffer from this condition, chickweed, flaxseed, cayenne and coenzyme Q10 can be highly effective.
Chickweed is also believed to dissolve plaque in blood vessels, as well as fatty tumors, supporting effective elimination from the body. Once plaque builds up, this is one of the most common causes of both heart attacks and stroke. This healing herb has also been shown to act as an antibiotic within the blood.
Why not make your own chickweed tincture?
If you’re looking for a simple, yet effective way to administer herbal medicines, tinctures are most certainly an ideal place to start. Although they are not as common as capsules and teas within our modern society, they are one of the most effective ways to administer herbal medicine, treating a wide range of conditions.
In order to make tinctures, you need to soak herbs in alcohol, generally using vodka or organic grain alcohol. It is recommended that you use no less than 80 proof, as this will ensure that your tincture is properly preserved. And when using fresh herbs, this will reduce your risk of bacteria growth.
Depending on the desired strength, you’ll want to create a tincture ratio between 1:1 to 1:10 (herb to alcohol). After 6 to 8 weeks, a potent medicinal liquid will be created. It can then be administered in doses ranging from 5 to 50 drops, potentially several times daily.
Easy to digest, tinctures are much more potent than teas and are known to rapidly deliver medicine throughout the body. Get into the routine of making potent tinctures, reducing your reliance on medications. If you’re interested in the beneficial properties listed above, here’s how you can make your own chickweed tincture:
1. Start by washing, drying and chopping your collected chickweed.
2. Place into glass jars and cover with alcohol (vodka works well) before closing the lid.
3. Allow to sit for 6 weeks before you drain the liquid.
4. Each day, add 15 to 20 drops to your morning smoothie to benefit from its potent effects.
If you’re like me, once you start to learn more about the raw edibles that grow in your own backyard and throughout your community, you’ll be able to create some highly effective concoctions. Of course, if you’re ever unsure about a certain plant, it’s best to leave it be.
Although I highly encourage you to try a chickweed tincture, you can make a selection of tinctures so that you are able to benefit from a number of unique properties from various plants. From lemon balm to stinging nettles, the world is your oyster. Go ahead and start picking!
— Krista Hillis