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Chickweed salve is a topically applied alternative medication made from chickweed, oil, and wax. The salve does not typically contain chickweed solids, as these are removed before the product is completed. Its main use is as a natural anti-itch medication, but it is also said to draw poisons out of the skin.
When the salve is purchased from a retailer, other herbs such as lavender or comfrey are often included in the salve to complement the properties of chickweed. Making chickweed salve at home is relatively simple, making this a popular alternative to purchasing it.
There are many recipes for chickweed salve, but the process is usually similar in all variations. First, chickweed is soaked in oil and heated at a low temperature for several hours to extract its beneficial properties. Then, the chickweed solids are removed from the oil with a strainer. Finally, beeswax is added to the oil and the mixture is heated and stirred until it is thoroughly combined. Exact directions vary, as the amount of beeswax makes the salve softer or harder, different oils may be used, and sometimes other herbs are heated with the chickweed.
Although there are many possible uses for chickweed salve, the most common is as an itch remedy, either for itches caused by illness like chicken pox, or irritations caused by isolated contact with an irritant like poison ivy. It is said to draw out the poisons left by bee stings and mosquito bites, providing relief from those minor skin irritations as well. Some people use this product as a first defense against rashes of unknown origin, as it is fairly versatile and harmless. As chickweed is thought by some to help with sore throats, arthritis, and other ailments, its salve is often applied topically with the hope that an external application at the site of pain will help with internal discomfort.
The claims presented by proponents of chickweed salve are often verified through experience and historical usage, not through clinical trials. While chickweed has a long history of use by herbal healers, it is not a tested medication. Even the benefits of topical chickweed use may differ between different users.
People with allergies to plants in the daisy family may see similar allergic reactions when using chickweed salve. Pregnant or nursing women are generally advised to avoid use of chickweed. It is possible to get nitrate poisoning from chickweed, but this is usually a danger only with internal use of the plant. Even so, users of chickweed salve should undertake a careful watch for the symptoms of nitrate poisoning. While rare, bad reactions can occur for many reasons when using chickweed, and any discomfort or worsening of the original condition should warrant cessation of chickweed usage.
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