Chickweed

Scientific Name(s): Stellaria media (L.) Villars. Family: Caryophyllaceae

Common Name(s): Chickweed , mouse-ear , satinflower , starweed , starwort , tongue grass , white bird's-eye , winterweed , chickenwort 1

Uses

Chickweed infusions and extracts have been used internally as demulcents and topically as treatment for rashes and sores. Young shoots are edible. There is no research to support chickweed use for any indication.

Dosing

There is no recent published clinical evidence to guide dosage of chickweed.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Poorly documented cases of paralysis have been reported.

Toxicology

There is no overwhelming evidence to suggest that chickweed is toxic. 2

Botany

Chickweed is a common plant, particularly throughout Europe and North America. This low-growing annual has a thin hairy stem with pointed oval leaves. It produces small, white, star-shaped flowers throughout much of the year. 3 , 4 , 5

History

The whole dried plant has been used in the preparation of infusions. Chickweed extract has been used internally as a demulcent, but is more typically used externally for the treatment of rashes and sores. The young shoots are edible and have been used as salad greens. 2 In homeopathy, the plant is used to relieve rheumatic pains and psoriasis. 3 Chickweed is cited as a folk remedy for many conditions, including asthma, blood disorders, conjunctivitis, constipation, inflammation, dyspepsia, skin ailments, and obesity. 6 The Chinese use a sugar infusion for the treatment of epistaxis. 6

Chemistry

Nitrate salts and vitamin C (375 mg/100 g) have been identified in the plant. 2 , 6 Chickweed contains rutin and several other flavonoids. 7 Carotenoid content is about 4.2 mg/100 g. 8 Chickweed also contains alkaloids, octadecatetraenic acid, linolenic acid, and the esters hentriacontanol and cerylcerotate.

Uses and Pharmacology

Although there is extensive scientific literature describing chickweed, this literature focuses largely on its control as an unwanted weed. There is no indication that any of the plant's constituents possess therapeutic activity, and its vitamin content is too low to be of therapeutic value. 9 A review of clinical research suggests that the plant is not actively under investigation.

Dosage

There is no recent published clinical evidence to guide dosage of chickweed.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Human cases of paralysis have been reported from large amounts of the infusion.

Toxicology

Grazing animals have experienced nitrate poisoning secondary to chickweed. 6 There is no overwhelming evidence to suggest that chickweed is toxic. 5

Bibliography

1. Hocking, GM. A Dictionary of Natural Products . Medford, NJ: Plexus Publishing, Inc.; 1997.
2. Spoerke DG, Jr. Herbal Medications . Santa Barbara, CA: Woodbridge Press; 1980.
3. Schauenberg P, Paris F. Guide to Medicinal Plants . New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing Inc.; 1977.
4. The Herbalist . Hammond, IN: Hammond Book Co.; 1934.
5. Magic and Medicine of Plants . Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest; 1986.
6. Duke JA. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs . Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc.; 1985.
7. Budzianowski J, Pakulski G, Robak J. Studies on antioxidative activity of some C-glycosylflavones. Pol J Pharmacol Pharm . 1991;43:395-401.
8. Guil JL, Rodriguez-Garcia I, Torija E. Nutritional and toxic factors in selected wild edible plants. Plant Foods Hum Nutr . 1997;51:99-107.
9. Tyler VE. The New Honest Herbal . Philadelphia, PA: G.F. Stickley Co.; 1987.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

Hide
(web5)