Chickweed (Stellaria media) is an annual plant that is used as an herbal remedy to address nasal congestion and other wellness concerns.
It grows well on lawns and in sunny areas, but can also flourish in partial shade. While some people use it in salads, many consider the herb to be nothing more than a standard, garden variety weed.
The plant grows 3 to 8 inches tall, but forms a mat along the ground that can reach up to 16 inches. Its distinguishing feature is the tiny white flower that forms on the plant. It has five petals but these are deeply clefted and can sometimes make the flower look as if it has 10 petals.
All species of chickweed are edible, but some poisonous weeds, such as poisonous spotted spurge or knotweed, may be mistaken for this plant. Anyone harvesting this plant for health care or for eating should use caution.
Chickens love this plant; hence its name. It grows all year, but is best in spring and late fall. The plant came to the United States from Europe and now can be found all over North America. The leaves, stems, and flowers are all used.
This plant contains phytochemicals, including beta-carotene, genistein and rutin. Its nutrients include calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sulfer, zinc, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, C, and E.
Health Care Uses and Cautions
This plant, which is also called starweed, is thought to relieve nasal congestion and may be used for bronchitis, colds, and coughs. It also may lower blood lipids and help with circulatory problems. Additionally, chickweed has been used for skin diseases and warts when applied topically. It has been used for eczema, insect stings, and bug bites, too.
At times this plant has been used to treat asthma,
indigestion, and nosebleeds, too. It is often used in a tea prepared by
traditional Chinese herbalists. There is some indication that this plant may be
beneficial for rheumatic conditions but this remains unclear in clinical
Some websites list this herb as a diuretic and/or laxative. Use with caution for these concerns.
You can buy the herb in health care stores as a tea, in capsule form or as a liquid extract. It can also be found as a cream which may be used on rashes and inflamed skin. The cream will ease itching and inflammation.
It is also available in tinctures and as a dried herb.
Pregnant or nursing women and children should not use this herb. Also, people who are allergic to plants in the daisy family should take this herb with caution.
As with any herb, too much may result in poisoning or overdose. Always consult your healthcare provider before using any herbal tea or product for medicinal purposes.