The first time I tried this plant I had just come home from a month of summer travels to find a city full of smoke from all the wildfires in the mountains and my garden overrun with this delicate green vine.
Turns out the two are connected, one a gift for dealing with the other.
And no the smoke did not kill the vine. The little “weed” turned out to be Chickweed which in addition to its powerful healing properties for the skin is also very supportive for lung congestion and healing membranes. There are many other benefits too as you’ll hear about below.
This fragile, delicate plant packs a powerful punch and the best thing it also tastes great! How have I overlooked this and possibly even cursed this little “weed” in the past?
Chickweed is native to Europe. Its bright green in colour and has small white flowers that look like stars. It appears fragile and delicate and relies on the support of neighbouring plants to climb otherwise it grows in a sprawling nature as a ground cover.
To identify Chickweed in your garden or local wild area look for its tiny spade-shaped leaves, growing opposite each other on the stalk. Feel the stalk as several varieties of Chickweed have a fine hair growing only on one side of the stalk. The white flowers have five petals which appear as ten. The petals are so deeply divided and pointed and the ends they are often called “mouse-ears.”
Chickweed likes to grow in moist conditions and like most “weeds” is very resilient. After a period of drought, you will see it pop back to life with the first rain. You can even find it green and vibrant under early fall snowfalls and will be growing under the snow in early spring.
Be cautious when you harvest chickweed because of its community nature you could get other plants along for the ride that are not edible.
To harvest chickweed, simply lift the vine and cut off about 4 inches of new growth at the tips, giving the plant a haircut while harvesting the new fresh growth. Both the leaves and stalk are edible simply dice them up and toss them in a salad or in the blender for a refreshing juice.
The seeds are also edible and contain protein and healthy fats. These can be harvested when they start to turn brown and dried on the stalks in a paper bag. Remove stalks and leaves when dried. The seeds can be added to cereal or salads or ground and added into flour mixtures.
“The flavour of chickweed is a pure spring vitality that tastes like green sunshine. It shares an aliveness that encourages us to wake up into our full potential.” – Katrina Blair – The Wild Wisdom of Weeds.
Chickweed is a gentle but powerful healer. It’s best to consume chickweed frequently over the season to reap the full rewards of its healing abilities.
Chickweed contains many helpful vitamins and minerals including;
Chlorophyll, Gamma-linolenic acid, Beta carotene, Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamin
Rich in Vitamins C, A, B6, B12.
High in the minerals Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, copper, selenium, silica.
Also contains steroidal saponins which increase the absorptive ability of all membranes and help to eliminate congestion.
In Ayurvedic Medicine Chickweed is cooling in nature, helping to reduce inflammation and is especially helpful during the spring and fall change of seasons to draw toxins out of the body.
When applied topically it is soothing and moisturizing, helping to relieve itching and clears rashes and skin outbreaks.
When consumed internally on a regular basis it removes congestion and infection stored in the body. It’s a gentle yet powerful detoxifier that supports liver and kidney function and reduces the growth of abnormal cells.
Chickweed also provides digestive support and is a mild diuretic making it popular in weight loss treatments.
Add fresh Chickweed to salads for a mild corn-like taste and crispy texture.
Make a refreshing juice from the fresh leaves and stalks and drink on hot days to cool the inflammation and soothe your body from heat irritation. This is especially helpful on days when smoke or other seasonal irritants are in the air.
For a quick refreshing juice – mix with 1 cup of fresh greens with 1 small cucumber, a handful of mint (or two drops of peppermint essential oil), 1 apple and 4 cups of water.
Use the fresh stalks and leaves as a topical paste applied directly onto the skin for any inflammation, rashes or skin blemishes. I would love to get my two teenagers to try this. How do you get teens interested in chewing a small bunch of chickweed to create a paste then putting this green mixture on your skin? Any takers? I’d love to hear how this works!
You can also finely chop the leaves and stems and mix with oil or clay for better absorption into the skin and bypass the chewing method. Maybe I’ll have better luck with this method…
The dried leaves can be infused into a high-quality oil organic oil such as Olive Oil or Avocado Oil to create a salve that can be used in the winter when fresh is not available. This is especially soothing for skin irritations and blemishes.
I challenge you today to go out and harvest a handful of this fragile little weed and give it a try – it’s likely somewhere in your garden.
Which of the great Chickweed benefits most benefit you today? Better skin, soothe your lungs and breathing passages, cool your system on a hot summer day, lose weight, and remove toxins from your body so you feel more vibrantly healthy…
Share in the comments below how you tried it and what it tasted like. Come back later and tell us how it worked!
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