Chickweed, known by the Latin name Stellaria media or Stellaria pubera, is also called common chickweeds, star chickweed, and mouse-ear chickweed. The plant grows about 16 inches (40 cm) tall and has oval-shaped leaves and white flowers shaped like stars. This herb grows wild in temperate zones around the world and is often regarded as a nuisance weed in a garden. However, a plant produces thousands of seeds that can be used to feed chickens, and a chickweed tea made from the leaves and flowers are said to be healing, both externally in a poultice and internally as a tonic. The plant is a powerhouse of nutrition, containing ingredients such as ascorbic acid, vitamins A and C, saponins, magnesium, flavonoids, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, coumarin, rutin, selenium, thiamin, and zinc.
Chickweed tea is made from either dried or fresh leaves. Four cups (1 l) of boiling water can be poured over one-fourth cup (60 ml) of dried chickweed, or one-half cup (120 ml) chopped or macerated fresh leaves. The tea should be steeped for five to ten minutes before straining. If used as a poultice or skin wash, it should be cooled to room temperature first.
Externally, chickweed tea is said to heal a number of problems. An ointment or wash made from the tea is astringent and can be used to treat psoriasis, itching, eczema, hives, acne, poison ivy rashes, skin irritations, sunburn, and pimples. It can also stop bleeding and heal wounds and skin ulcers, especially sores that are healing badly.
Internally, chickweed tea can heal both respiratory problems and ease disorders of the digestive tract. The tea can effectively heal hoarseness, coughs, bronchitis, lung illnesses, and chest congestion. For many centuries, the plant’s diuretic and laxative actions have made it a popular concoction for losing weight. Chickweed is also said to cleanse the blood, so spring salads and tonics using the weed have long been used to invigorate people and relieve spring tiredness. In homeopathic medicine, chickweed tea is believed to heal joint problems and ease arthritis.
The many vitamins and healthful ingredients in chickweed make it a healthy vegetable or tea for regular use. Chickweed tea can be taken one-half cup (120 ml) at a time, two to four times a day. Because of the tea’s laxative effect, though, large amounts of tea could cause intestinal problems. Pregnant and nursing mothers, or those with chronic health problems, should contact a doctor before adding any supplements to their diets.