Chickweed is used medicinally and as a food. It is valued for its nutritional content and fresh chickweed is typically eaten as a salad green. In traditional herbal medicine, chickweed is taken by mouth or applied to the skin to treat a long list of health problems such as obesity. However, it is not yet clearly established how chickweed works in the body. Consult with your health care provider before using chickweed medicinally.
Identification and Dosing
Other names for chickweed include starwort , chickenwort, star chickweed and winterweed. Chickweed leaves are used to make medicines. According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, or NMCD, the usual daily dose range for chickweed taken orally is 1,155 to 3,450 milligrams in 2 to 3 divided doses. Chickweed tea is made by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of chickweed to 6 ounces of boiling water. The usual dose of chickweed tincture is 1 to 5 milliliters daily.
Chickweed is taken by mouth to treat stomach problems, intestinal complaints such as constipation, disorders of the blood, arthritis, lung diseases including asthma, kidney disorders, inflammatory conditions of the urinary tract, rabies, and scurvy or vitamin C deficiency. It is also used to relieve extreme exhaustion. Chickweed is applied on the skin relieve various skin conditions such as skin wounds, ulcers, burns, arthritis pain and symptoms of eczema.
There is still not enough scientific proof that chickweed is effective for any of its current medicinal uses. However, chickweed’s effectiveness may be partially due to its nutritional content. Chickweed contains minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, silica, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-2, niacin, and vitamin C. Nevertheless, the amount of vitamin C in chickweed is too small to be effective for treating scurvy, says NMCD. Nutritionally, chickweed contains 0 calories, 14.5 grams of protein, 64 carbs and 21 grams of fiber in a 0.40 cup serving of dried leaves, according to the Plants For A Future database, or PFAF. Although 21 grams of fiber is significant -- nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of 25 grams for women and 2/3 of the recommended intake of 38 grams for men -- chickweed is not consumed in such a high dose all at once.
Chickweed is generally safe when taken by mouth in recommended doses, notes the NMCD. However, chickweed can cause allergic skin reactions, particularly in those who are allergic to the daisy plant family. A few reports of paralysis from chickweed have been reported but are unconfirmed, notes PFAF. Chickweed should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. There is currently not enough information to assess the safety of chickweed when used on the skin.