Updated: Feb 25
As the winter comes to an end and the Earth begins to wake up once again, nature provides us with the perfect foods and medicines for Spring time.
One of my favorite backyard medicinal herbs (no longer will I call them weeds!) that pops up in the late winter and early spring is chickweed.
Chickweed is an abundant, wild medicinal and edible herb that may be growing in your own backyard.
You can find chickweed sprawling her long leafy stems across the ground in your yard, garden, woodland areas, or even growing up and out of sidewalk cracks. In the spring and summer, you’ll see tiny, white star shaped flowers bloom (one of the cutest little flowers if I may say so myself.)
When the kids and I find a patch of chickweed, we all grab a stem and start nibbling! Her leaves, stems, and flowers are all edible and are a powerhouse source of fresh nutrients that our bodies crave in the spring.
What you don’t end up eating raw or adding to a soup or pesto, try using chickweed medicinally
Associated with the element of Water, chickweed helps move your lymph by washing away toxins and metabolic waste and boosting immunity. Chickweed is incredible medicine for breaking up and dissolving cysts, including breast or ovarian cysts, and is a star ingredient in my Flowing Waters tincture. She also soothes and supports the digestive system, which may be a little sluggish after the heavier foods we often eat during the fall and winter.
I love preparing a simple chickweed tea in the early spring when I feel my body needs that boost to my digestive system. Chop up a good handful of fresh chickweed, muddle gently in a mason jar, and pour in boiling water to fill the jar. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes for a light tea or up to 4 hours for a strong infusion. Strain, add a bit of honey and enjoy chickweed's wild, fresh spring medicine.
Chickweed can be used fresh as a poultice, tinctured, or infused in vinegar, but my favorite way to use chickweed medicinally is as an herbal oil.
Infusing chickweed in oil is a wonderful way to use this wild herb for a variety of common skin ailments. Her cooling and drying energetics makes chickweed an incredible herbal ally for soothing inflamed skin, insect bites or stings, diaper rash, sun burns, or itchy skin conditions like eczema.
Here's a recipe to craft a chickweed infused oil that you can use for you and your family, too.
Chickweed Herbal Oil (folk method solar infusion):
A few large handfuls of fresh chickweed
Organic olive oil (or other organic carrier oil of choice or on hand)
Finely chop your fresh chickweed and lay in a single layer to dry (about 2 days).
Once dry, finely chop your chickweed and place into a mason jar or other glass jar with a lid. Fill your jar to the top with oil, adding more while allowing air bubbles to escape. Try to use a jar that will give you the right proportion of herb to oil, preferably about half or three quarters herb to half or one quarter oil.
Cover the jar, label, and place in a sunny window. Shake the jar daily, topping off with more oil if needed in the first day or so. After 3-4 weeks, strain the chickweed from the oil and place your herbal oil into a fresh jar. You can now use this oil directly or craft into an herbal salve or other herbal remedy that requires an oil component.
Herbal oils should be stored out of direct sunlight and can be stored for 6 months to a year. Discard if you start to see any signs of mold.
Chickweed is a beautiful wild remedy that the Earth offers to us at the perfect time; gifting us nourishment for our bodies as we enter a new season, and medicine for all of the sun burns and bug bites we'll encounter as we enjoy it.
Oh chickweed, you sure hold a special place in my heart.
Note: Before harvesting chickweed, or any other wild plant, make sure you are not harvesting from public lawns, busy roads, or other places that may be polluted or exposed to chemicals. And, it is imperative that you properly identify a plant before harvesting and using for food or medicine! If you're unsure, do not consume.