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Chickweed

Chickweed

Botanical Description & Habitat

Stellaria media

Family
Caryophyllaceae

Common Names

Adder's mouthIndian chickweed
Mouse EarSatin flower
ScarwortStar chickweed
StarweedStitchwort
Tongue grassWhite Bird's Eye



Habitat
Common in Europe and North America; grows in fields, lawns, waste places, along roadsides and in moist, shady areas.

Description
Chickweed is an annual or biennial weed. Its stems grow from 4-12 inches long, bearing small ovate leaves. Small white flowers grow in terminal clusters from the upper leaf axils all year long.

Medicinal Parts
Dried aerial parts, collected during the flowering period.

Historical Properties & Uses

Chickweed has long had many uses in herbal medicine. It was well-liked by Native Americans for relief from such respiratory problems as bronchitis, whooping cough, colds, sore throat, and flu. In European folklore, chickweed was used for similar purposes, including treatment of tuberculosis.

Chickweed is often regarded as an undesirable weed by agriculture. However, clinical studies, although scanty, have documented its antibiotic properties as effective against certain respiratory pathogens.

Chickweed is also used by modern herbalists to treat rheumatism, gout, joint and blood diseases, eye inflammations, and hemorrhoids. The plant's high nutritive content may contribute to its potency.

Chickweed may also be made into an ointment for topical application in cases of eczema.

Method of Action

Chickweed has not been investigated to any extent, but it has been shown to have antitubercular activity.

Its nutrient content is quite high, yielding, for example, 150- 550mg of vitamin C per 100g of herb.

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recognizes chickweed as an antirheumatic; and topically as an antipruritic, vulnerary and emollient. Used in the treatment of rheumatism, eczema, psoriasis, indolent ulcer, and as a poultice for carbuncles and abscesses. Specific indication is topical as an ointment in pruritic skin eruptions. Combined with marshmallow and/or slippery elm bark.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Chickweed possesses no known interactions.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Chickweed is nontoxic in therapeutic doses.

There have been cases of animal nitrate poisonings.

Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried herb
1-5 grams three times a day

Tea
made from 1/2 - 1 tsp dried herb

Fluid extract
1:1 in 25% alcohol, 1-5 ml

Tincture
1:5) in 45% alcohol, 2-10 ml

Ointment
1:5 in a lard/paraffin base, external application

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.

References

Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Baird, E.S., et. al. Canadian Journal of Research C., 25, 95, 1947.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, British Herbal Medicine Association, 1983.

Committee on Pharmocopaeia of the Am Institute of Homeopathy, The Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the United States. 8th ed., Vol 1. Otis Clapp and Son, Agents, Boston, l981.

Facts and Comparisons. The Lawrence Review of Natural Products. Feb, 1992.

Fitzpatrick, F.K. Plant substances active against mycobacterium tuberculosis. Antibiotics and Chemotherapy, 4(5), 528-536, 1954.

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. MacMillan, NY. Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Hyde, F.F. British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Assoc: West Yorks, England, 1983

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila. (St. Louis).

Lewis, Walter H. and Elvin-Lewis, Memory P.F. Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Man's Health, John Wiley and Sons. New York, l977.

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Martin, E.W. 1978. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Scientific Committee, British Herbal Pharmocopaeia, British Herbal Med Assoc, Lane House, Cowling, Na Keighley, West Yorks, Bd Bd220lx, l983

 


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