Chickweed

(Stellaria media)

Ahhh, Chickweed. It’s such a refreshing sight this time of year. Its clumping, succulent carpets of bright green scream fresh new life after winter. It might be my favorite wild edible plant, partly because of its abundant accessibility, and partly because my body is so excited for a bite of fresh wild green nourishment this time of year. You can experience the full vitality of eating fresh greens by getting on your hands and knees, and taking a bite directly from the earth as if you were a rabbit:) It’s such a different sensation than eating even the freshest greens from the grocery store or farmers market. And this is what I unabashedly do when I first encounter this plant each year. I bow down and give thanks for this delicious & welcome gift.


Tastes/Energetics: cooling & moistening

Parts Used: aerial parts

Actions: nutritive, antiscorbutic, anti-pyretic, demulcent, emollient, vulnerary, pectoral, diuretic

Uses:  Chickweed is primarily used either internally as a nutritive herb with cooling and detoxifying properties, or externally as a soothing remedy for cuts, itching, or irritation. Chickweed contains saponins, soap-like plant chemicals that emulsify and increase permeability of cellular membranes, thus, increasing the absorption of nutrients, promoting the excretion of metabolic waste, dissolving phlegm, neutralizing toxins, and even weakening bacterial cell walls, rendering them more vulnerable. Chickweed also has a reputation for dissolving cysts, especially ovarian cysts, and some wise country women say it helps with weight loss (soap dissolves fat). Chickweed is very soothing to the bladder & kidneys and is used as a cooling diuretic for cystitis.

Indications: signs of heat (fever, infection, coughs with yellow, concentrated mucus, inflammations, any condition ending with “itis”), chronic UTIs, internal or external wounds (to draw out splinters or infection, reduce swelling & inflammation), rashes (including chickenpox, measels, diaper rash, bug bites, or poison ivy), pink eye (as a wash), internally to support weight loss or dissolution of cysts.

Preparations: Internally as a tea, tincture, or fresh plant. Externally as a poultice, salve, or wash.

Cautions: None cited in literature.

Dose: Tea: use 2 tsp of dried herb to cup of water: drink 3 ccups a day. Tincture: 60-100 drops (3-5 ml) three to four times a day.
Chickweed Pesto Recipe
2 cups chickweed
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
I TBSP lemon juice
optional:
3-4 oz hard cheese
3-4 oz nuts or seedsPlace chickweed, nuts & garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced. Add the cheese, oil & lemon juice and process until blended. Transfer to a small bowl or tupperware & store in the refrigerator.Identification: Chickweed is out now, thanks to the warm weather & rain. You can often even find it growing under the snow. If you wish to harvest, remember to find a place away from the roadside & chemical sprays, and to harvest no more than 1/3 of what you find. I highly recommend that you get a field guide to help you with identification. It can be difficult early in the season, before the plant is in bloom. Here are some hints:The leaves of chickweed are small, ovate, oppositely arranged, and a little fuzzy. The leaves and stems have an almost succulent quality. This becomes more apparent as the plant matures. The stems are a little hairy, and if you look closely at the nodes, you’ll notice that these hairs change direction around each node. The flowers are also tiny and white in color. They appear to have 10 petals, when in reality they are 5 petals, each one deeply cut into 2 lobes. Happy Hunting!

*These statements have not been approved by the FDA. The information contained here is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.
damiana

Damiana

(Turnera diffusa)

An aromatic herb (in the mint family) native to Central America.  The Aztecs used the leaves as a sexual tonic and stimulant and regarded it as the second most important herb for bestowing vitality, after chocolate. Traditionally the fragrant leaves were brewed as a tea and sweetened with honey to stimulate lovemaking.


Tastes/Energetics: aromatic, warming, slightly stimulating, but also relaxing

Parts Used: leaves & flowers

Actions:  aromatic, nerve tonic, aphrodisiac, antidepressant, carminative, reproductive tonic, diuretic

Uses:  Traditionally used for stimulating sexual appetite, treating erectile dysfunction & enhancing orgasm in both sexes. Strengthens the central nervous system & eases the emotional stress, damiana may helpful for mild depressive or anxious states. Also helpful in treating irrational fears. Alkaloids could have a testosterone-like action. As a carminative, it eases colic, dyspesia, & upset stomach.

Indications: impotence, low libido, poor digestion, cough, melancholy and sadness, weak nerves in the reproductive organs, sexual debility due to nervous exhaustion, incontinence, chronic prostatic discharge

Preparations: as a tea, use 1 tsp damiana with ½ tsp spearmint and ½ tsp rose petals for an invigorating yet calming nerve tonic. Often used in smoking mixtures. It also makes an incredible liqueur!!!

Cautions: Damiana may interfere with the absorption of iron. Avoid large doses during pregnancy.

Dose: Tea: use 1 tsp. per cup of water and drink 3 cups a day. Tincture: 10-30 drops 1-4 x a day.
*These statements have not been approved by the FDA. The information contained here is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.