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Chickweed

Scientific Name(s): Stellaria media (L.) Villars.
Common Name(s): Chickenwort, Chickweed, Mouse-ear, Satinflower, Starweed, Starwort, Tongue grass, White bird's-eye, Winterweed

Clinical Overview

Use

Chickweed infusions and extracts have been used traditionally for widespread uses, although clinical studies are lacking. Antiviral, hepatoprotective, and antiobesity properties have been demonstrated in vitro and in rodents.

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.

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.Duke 2002, Khan 2009, USDA 2016

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.Spoerke 1980 In homeopathy, the plant is used to relieve rheumatic pains and psoriasis.Schauenberg 1977 Chickweed is cited as a folk remedy for many conditions, including asthma, blood disorders, conjunctivitis, constipation, epixtaxis, inflammation, dyspepsia, skin ailments, and obesity.Duke 2002, Khan 2009

Chemistry

Nitrate salts and vitamin C (375 mg per 100 g) have been identified in the plant.Duke 2002, Spoerke 1980 Chickweed contains rutin and several other flavonoids.Budzianowski 1991 Carotenoid content is about 4.2 mg per 100 g.Guil 1997 Chickweed also contains alkaloids, octadecatetraenic acid, linolenic acid, and the esters hentriacontanol and cerylcerotate.Duke 2002, Khan 2009

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.Tyler 1987 A review of clinical research suggests that the plant is not actively under investigation.

Hepatoprotective/Antiviral effect

Animal data

A study in rats with induced hepatitis found the water soluble fraction of chickweed to improve liver enzyme indices as well as be protective as demonstrated histologically.Gorina 2013 Anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) activity of S. media was demonstrated in human cell lines.Ma 2012

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data on the use of chickweed in hepatitis or other liver disease.

Obesity

Animal data

A study in mice suggested the observed antiobesity effect of chickweed might be mediated by inhibition of intestinal absorption of fat and inhibition of digestive enzymes.Rani 2012

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data on the use of chickweed in the management of obesity.

Dosing

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.Duke 2002 Chickweed extract appeared to be safe in a brine shrimp toxicity evaluation.Shah 2014

References

Budzianowski J, Pakulski G, Robak J. Studies on antioxidative activity of some C-glycosylflavones. Pol J Pharmacol Pharm. 1991;43:395-401.1824129
Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
Gorina YV, Saprykina EV, Gereng EA, et al. Evaluation of hepatoprotective activity of water-soluble polysaccharide fraction of Stellaria media L. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2013;154(5):645-648.23658890
Guil JL, Rodriguez-Garcia I, Torija E. Nutritional and toxic factors in selected wild edible plants. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1997;51:99-107.9527345
Khan I, Abourashed E. Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2009.
Ma L, Song J, Shi Y, et al. Anti-hepatitis B virus activity of chickweed [Stellaria media (L.) Vill.] extracts in HepG2.2.15 cells. Molecules. 2012;17(7):8633-8646.22810196
Rani N, Vasudeva N, Sharma SK. Quality assessment and anti-obesity activity of Stellaria media (Linn.) Vill. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012;12:145.22943464
Schauenberg P, Paris F. Guide to Medicinal Plants. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing Inc.; 1977.
Shah NA, Khan MR, Nadhman A. Antileishmanial, toxicity, and phytochemical evaluation of medicinal plants collected from Pakistan. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:384204.24995292
Spoerke DG, Jr. Herbal Medications. Santa Barbara, CA: Woodbridge Press; 1980.
Stellaria media. USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, September 2016). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901. Accessed September 2016.
Tyler VE. The New Honest Herbal. Philadelphia, PA: G.F. Stickley Co.; 1987.

Disclaimer

This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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