Many believe that the rise of the Western Civilization happened during the 16th Century. It was a period of vigorous economic expansion which led to social, political, and cultural transformations. This era was the beginning of the modern era of science and exploration. Interestingly, it was also during this period when the use of common chickweed as treatment for wounds was first recorded. Over time, this herb was embraced as a “blood cleanser” and medicine that treated different ailments such as constipation, asthma, respiratory illnesses, peptic ulcers, menstrual pain, and scurvy. This plant is native to Europe, but it is now widely naturalized.
Characteristics of Chickweed
The common chickweed (Scientific name: Stellaria media) which is also known as stitchwort belongs to the Caryophyllaceae family. This plant has smooth stems, light green leaves that range from ½ to 1 ¼ inches in length, small flowers that consist of 5 petals (which are deeply lobed, thus, they appear to have 10 petals), and a shallow fibrous root system. The fruit it produces (which is a one-celled capsule) is oval in shape and whitish in color. It can grow up to 18 inches, but it is usually a low-growing weed in mowed lawns.
Modern Medicinal Value of Chickweed
Chickweed is edible and nutritious. It can be eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. This herb when brewed as tea is a refreshing alternative for coffee sans the caffeine. Below are some of the benefits one can get from it:
- It could promote weight loss
Chickweed as a diuretic and laxative can flush out water weight from stored deposits. The saponins it contains have been found to emulsify and get rid of fat cells in the body. It helps improve the metabolism by supporting healthy thyroid function.
- It is a possible source of plant calcium
Since calcium is usually found in dairy products, finding plant-based alternatives can be challenging. Chickweed has been found rich in calcium as well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Therefore, it can help keep the bones and teeth healthy.
- It is high in vitamin B complex
B vitamins are important for maintaining good health. Benefits of these nutrients can be found here. However, since they are water-soluble, the human body does not store them. For this reason, daily intake of these is essential every day. The common chickweed is a good source of vitamin B complex. Vegetarians and vegans, particularly, can benefit greatly from this herb since cobalamin, a kind of B vitamin is naturally found in animal products. Chickweed is a good example of a plant-based alternative that can provide them this needed nutrient.
- It is rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants
We can literally say that a cup of Chickweed tea can help keep the doctor away. Chickweed is rich in powerful antioxidants that can lower infection risk, prevent certain cancers, and protect cells in the body from free radical damage. Whilst the fountain of youth is fictional, one can live longer by choosing to live and eat healthy.
- It can help rejuvenate the skin
When applied topically, chickweed has a cooling and drying effect on wounds. Imagine what it could do to the skin when it is drunk as tea. Oxidative stress breaks down collagen, which is the skin’s support that gives the skin firmness and elasticity. As previously mentioned, common chickweed is full of antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress.The chickweed plant is more than a common weed. It does not only provide the body with the much-needed vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. It can also increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Because of its medicinal benefits, it has helped a lot of people. People say that things are not created equal. In this case, not all weeds are the same. The chickweed herb could outshine them all.