Chickweed: Health benefits, side effects and ways to use
Chickweed (Stellaria media (Linn.) Villars) is a plant that is found in different parts of the world, where it is mostly considered a weed and has been used for several medicinal purposes.
Chickweed is also known as satin flower, starweed, white bird’s eye or mouse ear that belongs to the carnation plant family (caryophyllaceae).
Chickweed is a small low-growing plant that usually grows to 18 inches, has a hairy stem, oval leaves and produces small, round white flowers. Chickweed has been used as a folk remedy for several health conditions, including asthma, constipation, arthritis and skin-related conditions.
Even the flowers, leaves and stems of the plant have been used to make teas, oral decoctions and extracts.
Chickweed contains many beneficial plant compounds like flavonoids, saponins, vitamin C, phytosterols, tocopherols, triterpene, gamma-linoleic acid, minerals and organic acids.
In this article, we’ll talk about the health benefits, side effects, uses and doses of chickweed.
1. May support digestive health
Chickweed can help keep your digestive system healthy due to the presence of various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in it. In folk medicine, this plant is used to help prevent or treat constipation and bloating.
2. Lowers inflammation
A review study showed that applying whole chickweed as a plaster to swollen areas and broken bones could help reduce inflammation and soothe the area. Another study showed similar anti-inflammatory effects of chickweed for arthritis pain and bronchitis
3. Has diuretic properties
Diuretics help get rid of excess salt (sodium) and water from your body. Chickweed is considered to have a mild, diuretic effect that can promote kidney and bladder health
4. May treat asthma cough
As per a study, chickweed possesses expectorant and antiasthmatic properties. This means that it may help loosen the mucous and expel it out of the body, thus clearing your congested chest.
5. Treats skin diseases
For centuries, chickweed has been used in folk medicine to treat a number of skin problems like dermatitis, rashes, eczema and other skin diseases.In addition, chickweed is also applied for healing burns, cuts and bruises.
6. May fight hepatitis B virus
A 2012 study published in the journal Molecules reported the anti-HBV activity of chickweed. Chickweed contains large quantities of polyphenol and macromolecular compounds that may stop the growth of HBV. The study findings suggest that chickweed may be useful as a drug for treating HBV.
Side effects of chickweed
Chickweed when applied topically is generally considered safe; however, in some people it may cause allergic reactions. Consuming high amounts of chickweed can cause side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and upset stomach. This may be due to the presence of saponins in chickweed. Also, there’s not enough evidence to show if chickweed is safe to use when pregnant or breastfeeding, therefore it should be avoided. If you want to use chickweed and do not know the right dosage, it is recommended to consult your doctor before using it.
Ways to use chickweed
Chickweed can be used in many ways:
- The whole chickweed plant may be applied topically on the skin to lower inflammation.
- You can add chickweed-infused oil to your bath water or apply it on your skin. You can make chickweed-infused oil by chopping up fresh chickweed leaves and allow them to wilt for 24 hours. Then blend the leaves with small amount of coconut oil in a blender. Boil this mixture until it’s warmed and remove it from the heat and let it sit for three hours. Repeat this warming step four times and the oil is ready to use.
- You can also consume chickweed tea. You can make it by adding few chickweed leaves to boiling water and allowing it to steep for about 10-15 minutes. Strain the leaves and enjoy the tea.
- You can also add chickweed in omelettes, pasta sauces, soups, stews, smoothies, salad or pizzas.
Note: Before you use chickweed in any form, it is recommended to consult your doctor first to avoid any kind of adverse health effects.
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