The small, green chickweed plant originated in Europe, but now grows across the United States. The leaves, stems, and flowers are used medicinally.
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Topical preparations containing calendula, chickweed, or oak bark have been used traditionally to treat people with eczema.
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Chickweed has been used historically to treat skin inflammations such as poison oak and poison ivy.
A great many plants have been used historically to treat skin inflammations like poison oak and poison ivy dermatitis. Examples include calendula (Calendula officinalis), blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis), Virginia snakeroot (Aristolachia serpentaria), holy basil (Ocimum tenuifolium), and chickweed (Stellaria media). None of these remedies has been subjected to controlled clinical studies to determine if they are safe and effective for this use. Cooling essential oils, such as peppermint and menthol, have also been used topically to relieve burning pain and itch. Such oils should not be applied full-strength, but should rather be diluted (for example in lotion or gel) to avoid further skin irritation.
The active constituents in chickweed are largely unknown. It contains relatively high amounts of vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and flavonoids, which may partly explain its effectiveness as a topical treatment for skin irritations and itching. Although some older information suggests a possible benefit for chickweed in rheumatic conditions, this has not been validated in clinical trials.3
Although formerly used as a tea, chickweed is mainly used today as a cream applied liberally several times each day to rashes and inflammatory skin conditions (e.g., eczema) to ease itching and inflammation.4 As a tincture, 1/4–1 teaspoon (1–5 ml) per day can be taken three times per day. Two teaspoonfuls (10 grams) of the dried herb may also be drunk as a tea three times daily.
1. Duke JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1985, 458–9.
2. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenberg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum and Beaconsfield: Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd, 1988, 328–9.
3. Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg, Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, 265.
4. Hoffman D. The Herbal Handbook. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1988, 64–5.
Last Review: 11-07-2012
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