Stellaria media is the botanical name and gentle, masterful ridding the body of excess is the name of the game: excess weight, excess toxins, excess growths.
Chickweed, is a great gateway into foraging because it's easy to identify (we've all battled it in our gardens, am I right?) and unlike other weeds, chickweed is not at all bitter, but herbaceous. Aside from that, it's medicinal use is very mild and forgiving, so it is said that you can eat plenty of chickweed without worry of toxicity. The plant is hardy and will be making its appearance soon with the warming weather.
Internal Chickweed use in the form of fresh, infusion or tincture is helpful for:
-weight loss, especially for those experiencing hypothyroidism
-very high in Vitamins A + C and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium
-increasing breastmilk quality and quantity, a galactagogue
-removing tumors, cysts and other unwanted growths
-expelling mucous from the respiratory illness
External Chickweed use in the form of a balm, salve, poultice or rinse is helpful for:
-conjunctivitis and other eye infections
-helping heal mastitis
-quickly healing growths, cysts and skin sensitivities such as rashes
Chickweed Pesto Pasta
1 cup seeds or nuts, soaked over night
8 cups fresh chickweed
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 shredded parmesan (optional)
minced garlic to taste, start with a clove and see
Salt to taste
Place all of the above ingredients into a blender and taste. Does it need another clove of garlic? A few more grates of parmesan? You can vary which nuts or seeds you use. I used macadamias because they're my favorite. The traditional choice would be pine nuts. Because of the saponins present in chickweed, this pesto has an extra creamy texture.
Other ways it can be enjoyed is added to salad greens, where you might use sprouts like in a sandwich or used as a garnish like parsley. It is said that to cook it would be to diminish it's nutritional value, so it's best enjoyed raw and, for that reason, I wouldn't really put it in the category of a ideal postpartum food, but perhaps better for preconception with it's dense nutritional value. It's also thought that the high saponin content could be harmful while pregnant.
Chickweed's flowers are elegant little white stars that close at night and reopen in the late morning. When harvesting chickweed, the newer shoots are the most tender. Be careful to only take the chickweed itself as it can wrap it's tendrils around other inedible plants and accidently take some of those with it. There are a few edible chickweed look-alikes, but one look-alike called scarlet pimpernel that is poisonous though easily identifiable by it's orange flowers (and I don't believe I've ever seen it here in Calgary).
I'm currently in the process of making a salve with the chickweed I grow in my indoor Grow Tower.
The above is a compilation of information from the following sources:
Healing Wise by Susun S. Weed
The Energetics of Western Herbs by Peter Holmes
Down There by Susun S. Weed
The Wild Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair
Edible Wild Plants by John Kallas, PhD
So, what do you think? Is chickweed calling to you as a wild food to try this year?