Dr. Don Colbert
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Chickweed - Stellaria mediaThe fresh leaves have been employed as a poultice for Inflammation and indolent ulcers with most beneficial results. A poultice of Chickweed enclosed in muslin is a sure remedy for a carbuncle or an external abscess. The water in which the Chickweed is boiled should also be used to bathe the affected part.
Modern herbalists mainly prescribe it for skin diseases, and also for bronchitis, rheumatic pains, arthritis and period pain. A poultice of chickweed can be applied to cuts, burns and bruises.
Chickweed’s history of use as both food and medicine, originated with the Iroquois, Ojibwa, Chippewa and other Native American traditions. Today, the nutrient-rich herb is widely respected for its gentle diuretic effect, to promote fat digestion, and for cellulite elimination support. Chickweed contains a wealth of Vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, Calcium, Manganese and Zinc.
Combined with Elecampane, Chickweed has also been recommended as a specific for hydrophobia, and the juice, taken internally, for scurvy. The plant chopped and boiled in lard makes a fine green cooling ointment, good for piles and sores, and cutaneous diseases. It has also been employed as an application for ophthalmia. A decoction made with the fresh plant is good for constipation, and an infusion of the dried herb is efficacious in coughs and hoarseness. The dose of the fluid extract is 10 to 60 drops.
Chickweed is a "drawing herb," once thought to remove toxins from the skin, now more typically explained as a microcirculatory stimulant for the skin. Chickweed may be employed to treat acne, abscesses of the skin, and eczema, as well as duodenal and peptic ulcers.
The stem is procumbent and weak, much branched, often reaching a considerable length, trailing on the ground, juicy, pale green and slightly swollen at the joints. Chickweed is readily distinguished from the plants of the same genus by the line of hairs that runs up the stem on one side only, which when it reaches a pair of leaves is continued on the opposite side. The leaves are succulent, egg-shaped, about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch broad, with a short point, pale green and quite smooth, with flat stalks below, but stalkless above. They are placed on the stem in pairs. The small white star-like flowers are situated singly in the axils of the upper leaves. Their petals are narrow and deeply cleft, not longer than the sepals. They open about nine o'clock in the morning and are said to remain open just twelve hours in bright weather, but rain prevents them expanding, and after a heavy shower they become pendent instead of having their faces turned up towards the sun, though in the course of a few days rise again. The flowers are already in bloom in March and continue till late in the autumn. The seeds are contained in a little capsule fitted with teeth which close up in wet weather, but when ripe are open and the seeds are shaken out by each movement of the plant in the breeze this being one of the examples of the agency of the wind in the dispersal of seeds.