Chickweed is an annual, sometimes short-lived perenial in the Caryophyllaceae family. It’s a common garden weed that although native to Europe, has naturalized itself worldwide. It has succulent stems, petiole-less opposite leaves at each node, and small white radial flowers that bloom March to October, which serves as important moth and butterfly food. Chickweed has five hairy sepals and 5 petals, each deeply cleft, giving the illusion of 10 petals. It cultivates easily and can be quite invasive in the garden. Although not as common in the winter, Chickweed can be collected all year.
Chickweed is an anti-rheumatic, vulnerary, and emollient. It’s commonly used externally in salves, poultices, and bath infusions to treat itching skin, eczema, psoriasis, and in the healing of cuts, irritations, and small wounds. It combines especially nicely with Marshmallow, Comfrey, Calendula, and Plantain for external ointments. Chickweed can also sooth aching, rheumatic joints through both internal consumption and external application. A decoction of the plant is used as a cleansing tonic and for treating constipation, cystitis, and general fatigue. In China, Chickweed is used to cool and detoxify fevers and treat acne. It is also a folk snake-bike remedy.
Internally, Chickweed can be prepared with 2 tsp of dried herb to a cup of water, infused for 5 minutes, three times daily. Externally, because Chickweed is soothing, it can be used as needed. It can be macerated and infused in an oil for skin irritations an excema as it is considered to have cooling properties. It can also be eaten raw in salads or cooked, as it is for a symbolic dish in the Japanese folk festival Nanakusa-no-sekku, the festival of the seven herbs.
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