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Herb Library

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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.



CHICKWEED
CAROPHYLLACEAE
aka Adder's Mouth, Indian Chickweed, Satin Flower, Scarwort, Star Chickweed, Starweed, Starwort, Stitchwort, Tongue Grass, Winter Weed
(Stellaria media)
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FYI A sprawling, annual plant considered a common weed which is probably native to southern Europe, but has naturalized throughout the world and is considered a serious pest in some places. Can be found growing in gardens, fields, lawns, waste places, and along roadsides. STEMS are succulent and brittle, tangled and procumbent and can grow to 18 inches long; have a line of white hair on one side only which changes direction at each pair of leaves. LEAVES are small, paired, light green, ovate, opposite, upto 1½ inches long, upper leaves sessile. FLOWERS are tiny, white, and star-shaped. Its name is most likely derived from the custom of using the seeds as birdfood.

Astrologically ruled by the moon §

CONTAINS: Volatile oil, fixed oils, palmatic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, steroidal saponins, polysaccharides, starch, lecithin.
SEEDS = 17.8% protein, 5.9% fat.
BASED on ZERO MOISTURE per 100 grams: 196 mg aluminum, 15.7% ash, 1210 mg calcium, 0.11 mg chromium, 1.21 mg cobalt, 25.3 mg iron, 529 mg magnesium, 0.53 mg manganese, 4.7 mg niacin, 448 mg phosphorus, 840 mg potassium, 21.7% protein, 0.13 mg riboflavin, 0.043 mg selenium, 0.57 mg silicon, 147 mg sodium, 0.21 mg thiamine, trace of tin, 7229 IU vitamin A, 6.9 mg vitamin C, 0.52 mg zinc.
WATER WHEN FRESH = 91.7%
WATER WHEN AIR DRIED = 7.1%

PROPAGATION By SEED anytime, but easily found growing in unweeded gardens and flower beds. Roots will also form at the joints if pressed into the soil.
NEEDS Grown as a crop in moist soil in part shade.
FLOWERS Spring through fall.
PART USED Whole above ground portion of the plant, fresh or dried; Juice.
HARVEST Whole plant.
SOLVENT Water, Alcohol
FORM Poultice, Compress, Infusion, Extract, Infused oil, Ointment, Cream, Tincture, Bolus.
RELATED SPECIES Stellaria dichotoma [yin chai ha]: In Chinese medicine the root of this plant is used to make a decoction which is employed as a febrifuge, emmenogogue, lactogogue, to stop noseleeds, to control heavy menstrual bleeding, and as a tonic for undernourished children.

Stellaria saxatilis [di jin cao]: A decoction of this plant is used in Chinese medicine for aching bones; is cooked with pork for cough and hemorrhage; is steeped in wine for rheumatism; is used as a poultice for rheumatism.


USES

MEDICINAL:
Slight salty, bitter, alterative, antirheumatic, digestive aid, diuretic, demulcent, emollient, antipyretic, expectorant, nutritive, pectoral, restorative, vulnerary, soothing, cooling; affects blood, liver, lungs, kidney, bladder; promotes healing, said to help regulate intestinal flora, could possibly speed evacuaction time from the lower bowel, and possibly absorb toxins from the bowels (no scientific proof to back these claims).
Was anciently used to cool the liver, check obesity, and treat skin problems. The juice was used to remove warts.
The infusion has been used for convulsions.
Has been used internally for anemia, cancer, fevers, excess mucous, scurvy, digestive problems, liver problems, blood disorders, plaque buildup in blood vessels, bronchitis, hoarseness, pleurisy, coughs, colds, internal inflammations, blood poisoning (used internally and externally), rheumatism (the tincture is added to other rheumatic remedies), colitis, cramps, flatulence, hemorrhoids, bowel problems, constipation (if serious, decoction used), and blood disorders. Has been made into cough drops for lung complaints. The extract has been boiled in sugar to make a syrup used to treat lung congestion.
The decoction has been used as a cleansing tonic, to relieve weariness, and for debility and to treat urinary tract infections (ie. cystitis).
Said to regulate the thyroid.
Externally has been used for boils, fractures, bruises, bursitis, infections, inflammations, ulcerated mouth and throat, sores, itchy skin, skin irritations, erysipelas (decoction used to bathe areas every 1/2 hour, followed by Chickweed ointment), eczema, psoriasis, swellings, tumors, urogenital problems, urogenital warts, vaginitis, swollen testes, piles, hemorrhoids, ulcers, abscesses, cuts, wounds and skin afflictions. The fresh herb has been made into a salve to relieve eczema (see also: Burdock Itch Ointment); often combined with Marshmallow or Slippery Elm in anti-itch ointments. The ointment has also been used to draw splinters, for boils, insect stings, burns, and scalds. The cream has been used for eczema, insect stings (to draw), splinters (to draw), burns and scalds.
A poultice of the fresh plant has been used for abscess, boils, rheumatic joints, rash, to remove heat of infection, and to draw poison.
One tbsp of the infused oil has been added to the bath water to soothe and to heal. A strong infusion of the fresh or dried plant has also been used.
The infusion has been used as an eyewash.
Is sometimes included in weight-loss formulas due to its diuretic action (please note, a diuretic doesn't actually help to lose body weight, merely water weight and in the case of Chickweed, it is said that the effects are only of about 1 week duration before the body neutralizes its affect).

DOSE: TRADITIONAL DOSAGES FOR PROFESSIONAL NOTE ONLY
!All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
GRAINS = 30 to 60
FRESH HERB = 1/4 to 1/2 cup daily
DRIED HERB = 1½ to 3 tsp (6 to 9 grams) daily
JUICE = 1 tsp to 1 tbsp, taken 3 times daily
INFUSION = 2 tsp dried Chickweed to 1 cup water, steeped 30 minutes; taken 3 times daily.
DECOCTION = 1 oz Chickweed to 1½ pints water; simmer down til one pint remains; taken by the mouthful every 2 to 3 hours until bowels move. OR, a handful of fresh herb added to boiling water; steep 15 minutes, taken in half-cup doses twice a day till relief is gained. Yet another method is 1 oz of dried Chickweed in 1 pint of water, simmered 30 minutes; 1/2 cup taken 3 times daily.
TINCTURE = 1½ oz dried herb combined with 6 oz of alcohol and 6 oz of water; combine in a glass jar, cap, and allow to sit in a warm place out of the light for 10 days to 2 weeks, shaking daily; taken 1 tbsp at a time.
INFUSED OIL = 8 oz (250 g) of dried herb in 16 oz (500 ml) of olive or sunflower oil. Follow steps 1 through 6 for making a SALVE, omitting the last steps using beeswax. Or simply combine the herbs in a jar and allow it to sit in a warm place for several days.
SALVE #1 = Fresh chickweed which has been chopped and slowly warmed in petroleum jelly or lard; put into containers; first aid for cuts, nicks, bites and scratches.
SALVE #2 = Place 12 oz. fresh chickweed in 1 pint of olive, sweet almond or other suitable vegetable oil in ovenproof container; heat at 150 degrees F for 3 hours; strain and add 1/2 oz. melted beeswax to oil; stir as mixture thickens; used for soothing itches and rashes.
OINTMENT = In a stainless steel, ovenproof pot, combine 1 lb of fresh chickweed, 1½ lbs vegetable shortening (or lard), 2 oz beeswax. Bake in oven for 3 hours at 200ºF; strain and pour into an ointment jar or suitable container; when cool is ready for use.
COMPRESS = Soak a pad in the hot decoction (or dilute the tincture in hot water); applied to aching joints.

HOMEPATHIC:
Homeopathic preparations of Chickweed are used for gout, liver inflammation, rheumatism, and psoriasis.

VETERINARY:
An infusion has been used in dogs for discharging or inflamed eyes, cataracts, eye ulcers, ingrowing eyelids.
Has been used as part of a larger regimen to treat distemper in dogs.
In livestock has been used for digestive ailments, diarrhea, gastric ulcers, piles, skin problems, cramps, inflamed or swollen joints, rheumatism. It is NOT given to sheep and lambs in large quantity as it can cause digestive upset. DOSE for livestock = several handfuls of Chickweed per animal per day. As an EYELOTION = a handful infused in 1¾ cup of hot water.
Used as a tonic food for poultry.

CULINARY:
Was traditionally harvested as a vegetable, especially in spring when fresh greens were a welcome addition to the diet.
Sprigs (or fresh tops) have been added to salads and cooked like a vegetable (ie. spinach).

ANIMAL:
The seed has a history of long use as a food for domestic fowl and pet birds.




©2000 & 2006 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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