chickweed large Chickweed

Chickweed | Stellaria media

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include common chickweed, stitchwort, adders mouth, starweed. The common name of chickweed stems from the fact that chickens (and caged birds) like it and thrive on it.

Chickweed is a small annual plant (completes its entire life cycle in one growing season) growing in amongst grasses and other plants at the bottom of moist hedgerows, in lawns, fields and pastureland, waste ground and even in woodland. A member of the Caryophyllaceae (Carnation) family, it is often said to be the most common weed in the world as it grows in all temperate regions. There are some similar looking plants to chickweed that grow in similar conditions such as stitchworts so look out for the tell tale tiny hairs which grow on one side of the stem only, swapping to the other side of the stem after a branching occurs.

It can grow up to 50cm tall but often sprawls along the ground rather than having an upright habit. Its little white flowers (5mm) are star shaped (hence the name 'stellaria') with 5 petals which are split in 2 and the flower buds are covered in tiny little hairs. The leaves are not hairy.

Here is link showing the differences between common chickweed and star chickweed.




Chickweed tincture and dried herb are available to buy in our herbal shop.






harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

Harvest the whole plant when the flowers are just opened or in bud and can be gathered from spring until the autumn. if you have a patch of it growing in your garden (and you probably have!), cut it just above the ground to harvest and you should get another fresh flush of leaves later in the season.
Pick on dry day when the dew has dried up and lay on a tray lined with paper or hang in small bunches to dry the herb for storage.
It can be eaten fresh as a salad leaf or cooked like spinach and is quite tasty.The herb can also be picked and juiced fresh as a drink to help reduce obesity.



Chickweed tincture and dried herb are available to buy in our herbal shop.



therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Chickweed has been used in traditional medicine for many hundreds of years as a remedy for skin complaints and as a gentle nutrient tonic and strengthening herb. The plant is very rich in protein, minerals (iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, silicon and zinc), vitamins C, A and B and fibre and can be eaten occasionally in small quantities (as a garnish or additions to salads etc) as a leafy vegetable.
Chickweed is rich in saponins, plants substances that cause water and fats to bind together successfully and create soap like bubbles. In the body, the saponins cause membranes to be more permeable and/or elastic, helping nutrients to be absorbed and toxins to be gathered and expelled. This activity also partly explains how chickweed can help with weight loss and why it is an effective cleanser of the blood and tissues.
Its medicinal actions include diuretic (promotes water expulsion via the kidneys), cooling and refrigerant, helps disperse and dissolve lumps and swellings and makes harmful bacteria more vulnerable and fragile, moistening, drawing and detoxifying.
It can be used to soften and make shrunken, gnarled or tight tendons/sinews more elastic and pliable. Old injuries that have tightened or stiffened can be made more pliable and flexible with persistent use of poultices of chickweed.
It can be used as a tea or compress for swollen testicles, breast lumps, lipomas (fatty cyst like lumps), swollen or blocked salivary glands, rubella, chickenpox, ingrowing hairs, swollen lymph nodes, herpes sores, and cold sores.
Chickweed tea has liver protective properties as explained here. The juice of the fresh plant is effective against the hepatitis B virus.
Chickweed is an extremely useful plant for all kinds of skin problems including rashes, itching, softening and soothing for eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, ulcers, impetigo, burns, to soothe burning and itching from insect bites and stings, heat rash, nettle (and other plant) stings, wounds, ringworm and to improve the complexion. If possible use the fresh bruised herb (squeeze it until some juice appears) as a poultice for these conditions. Soaked dried herb is almost as good.
It s a very cooling herb and helps to remove fire and heat from any area, especially in infected or hot and inflamed areas. In fact it is so effective at drawing out heat and impurities that the herb poultice will actually feel hot when you take it off. It will also be loaded with toxins from an abscess, boil, cyst or infected wound etc. The profound drawing action of chickweed means that the poultice should be discarded once used and a fresh one applied each time.
Chickweed has an old reputation for aiding with weight loss and obesity and for easing the appetite. This chickweed article on PubMed describes how chickweed is thought to slow the rate at which dietary fats are absorbed in the intestines.


Chickweed tea acts as a blood cleanser and can help prevent and treat blood poisoning and other conditions related to collections of impurities in the blood such as boils, ulcers, cysts (including ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and breast cysts), abscesses, septicaemia ..........use as a poultice (fresh herb if possible) over the affected area, replacing with a new one as the poultice heats up, and drink the tea daily.


Chickweed has a soothing and healing action on the entire digestive tract also. It can be effective in constipation, haemorrhoids (use chickweed compresses over them and drink the tea), colon/rectal cancer, it improves the bacterial balance in the large intestines, slows bowel transit time and allows toxins and wastes to be cleaned out thoroughly, encourages proper bowel function, encourages better absorption of nutrients through the digestive tract, helps soothe and heal peptic or intestinal ulcers and wounds. Drink a small cup of the tea before meals, 3 times daily.


It also has a soothing effect on coughs, bronchitis, asthma, throat affections, diptheria and emphysema.


Makes a good eyewash for sore inflamed or infected eyes.


Chickweed has a good reputation for easing childhood convulsions. Vogel states that the tea taken 3 times daily for a short while is 'absolutely astounding' at curing childhood convulsions.


Also used traditionally to help strengthen the heart, remove plaque and deposits from the blood vessels in atheroma and as a tea to aid convalescence and after long illnesses.


Here is a lovely piece by herbalist Susun Weed detailing some of the many medicinal uses for chickweed.


dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

 To make a poultice, bruise the fresh plant until juice runs out then apply to the affected area, covering lightly to hold in place. Or, soak the dried herb in a little boiled water and allow to cool before placing the wet herb over the area as before.

*Caution is advised during pregnancy and breast feeding, and some authorities suggest you do not use it for long periods (weeks on end) or in large medicinal doses. Older knowledge and use often contradicts this modern advice however.


Tincture: 2-10 ml, up to 3 times daily.

Dried herb in tea form: 1 teaspoon per cup, up to 3 cups daily.

Fresh herb in tea form: 6-12 g of herb per cup


Taken from Susun Weeds book "Healing Wise" ....

Chickweed poultice

*Apply the fresh herb, washed, directly onto sores, closed eyes, wounds.


*Cook the greens and stalks, especially when using older plants or treating deeply; cool somewhat before applying.


*Simmer chickweed in half water, half vinegar for about five minutes, cool and apply, then cover chickweed with a cotton towel or a thin layer of clay, and poultice for five minutes to three hours. Replace when poultice feels hot to the touch and oozes. (Yes, hot! Though most poultices are applied warm and removed when they cool, chickweed poultices actually heat up as they draw out infection and heat.)

Relief often begins within a few hours of the initial application, with pain and swelling diminishing steadily as treatments continue.

Poultices used on infections, such as pinkeye, must be thrown away after use. Poultices used on clean wounds and unbroken skin can be reused several times if chickweed is in short supply.




Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.







Child watering plants




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