(NaturalNews) There is probably not one gardener in North America or Europe who would have difficulty identifying chickweed and thus, have pulled it out of their lawn or garden. While scorned by gardeners, chickweed's straggly green stems with tiny white star-shaped flowers are favored by both chefs and herbalists. Chickweed (Stelleria media) contains a succulent flavor that enhances raw vegetable salads. Herbalists have found that chickweed is effective in treating hemorrhoids, eczema, and other irritating skin conditions.
Chickweed may be useful in the treatment of eczema, though scientific data is lacking
One report published by the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests using chickweed as an herbal supplement in the treatment of eczema. In this report, chamomile was seen to have the most medical literature backing up the herb for the relief of eczema and itching. However, the university did mention that though scientific data is lacking, there is some support for the use of chickweed as either a salve or in an ointment for eczema as well.
Chickweed is used by traditional herbalists for hemorrhoids
Dr. John Ray Christopher, one of the greatest master herbalists of the twentieth century, used chickweed as a remedy for hemorrhoids. Dr. Christopher explained that hemorrhoids were caused by eating too much sugar in the form of candy, pastries, soft drinks, bread, and coffee drinks. The sugar leaches out calcium from the body, as does alcohol, tobacco products, and any product containing white flour. One of the first places to become weak when calcium is leached out is the cardiovascular system. Dr. Christopher noted that when fecal matter sits in the descending colon and rectum for too long due to constipation, the sugar in the stool eats away the walls of the rectum. The weakened blood vessels in the rectum then form painful hemorrhoids. Two or three warm sitz baths a day made with chickweed tea (decoction) followed by an application of chickweed ointment was said to bring relief from hemorrhoids.
Chickweed has been found to have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties
While there are not many scientific studies available on chickweed, the studies that are available are encouraging. One medical study published in the March 2009 issue of Plant Foods for Human Nutrition studied the anti-oxidant levels of the vegetable sprouts in Korean salads. Chickweed sprouts were among the eleven plants tested. The methanol levels in Stellaria aquatica, a close relative of Stellaria media, had the highest anti-cancer properties of all of the vegetables tested for certain kinds of cancer. Antioxidant properties were observed in all of the plants. The conclusion of the study was that the sprouted salad vegetables could definitely be used as a supplement to treat cancer. Sources for this article include:
Pubmed.gov, "Total phenolics level, antioxidant activities and cytotoxicity of young sprouts of some traditional Korean salad plants." S.U. Chon, et al. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition March 2009: 64(1): 25-31. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19016328