Hi, how are you faring in this cold period (Here in NZ)? Other parts of the world are dealing with extreme heat. All about balance I guess.

I actually like the cold. I love having a fire going, something about it is ‘homely’, perhaps grounding. I love wearing boots too! so long as i’m not stuck out in the cold unprepared I don’t mind it.

When I was in the United States I got caught out in the cold overnight and nearly lost my fingers to frostbite. I didn’t realise at the time how close I came to not making it through the night. As a result, now, when my fingers get to a certain cold, they go white and I loose all feeling in them. nerve damage is no fun and it can be extremely painful as the heat comes back in to them.

Anyway, back to winter… My garden is loving all the rain we have had and the chickweed is extremely happy. Huge lush green and spreading rapidly :O

chickweed plant

The upside is that I have an abundance of beautiful chickweed to add to smoothies and salads and today I’m going to try making a chickweed pesto.

Besides being a nutrient-dense and delicious plant, chickweed can be used as a cooling poultice on hot conditions like sunburns, irritated eyes, or insect bites. The infused oil is often used to soothe the irritation of diaper rash and insect bites. Chickweed can also get things moving in the body. You can use it internally and externally for relieving signs of stagnation such as benign cysts and swollen lymph glands.

Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims of Chickweed

The medicinal actions of chickweed are antirheumatic, astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, and vulnerary.

The benefits of chickweed may in part be due to its high nutritional value. It is particularly high in ascorbic acid (vitamin C), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, the omega-6 fatty acid derivative), saponins, niacin, riboflavin (B2) thiamine (B1), beta carotene (A), magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, selenium and silica.

Chickweed is best known for its soothing and healing quality. The high saponin content of this herb is thought to be the reason for its effectiveness in relieving skin problems such as erysipelatous and other forms of ulceration, as well as many forms of cutaneous diseases.

Chickweed has been used traditionally as an external remedy for cuts, wounds, minor burns, abscesses and skin irritations, especially such as itching, dryness and irritation due to dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis.

Taken internally as a tea or tincture, chickweed has a reputation as a treatment for rheumatism and an infusion of the fresh or dried leaves added to bath water is thought to reduce inflammation caused by rheumatic pain.

A poultice of the crushed leaves has been used traditionally to relieve any kind of roseola and is thought to be effective where there are fragile superficial veins.

Taken internally in small quantities as a decoction, chickweed is considered a treatment for constipation, kidney complaints and quick relief of pain in the digestive system.

Additionally, chickweed decoction has been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat cystitis and other related urinary tract inflammations.

Chickweed is used as a detoxification agent and is considered to be as effective as herbs such as burdock root for its blood cleansing abilities.

A decoction of the fresh aerial parts is a traditional treatment for relief from extreme physical fatigue and debilitation.

Fresh chickweed is delicious eaten in summer salads. The seeds are a favorite of finches and other seed-eating birds, and the greens can be fed to domestic animals.

If you love pesto you will love chickweed pesto, plus you get all those added benefits.

Chickweed Pesto

  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil
  • 2-3 cups freshly picked young chickweed leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves (optional)
  • 1/2 Cup blanched almonds or walnuts
  • dash of sea salt
  • tablespoon of lemon juice
  • lemon zest

Place everything in a food processor and mix until well blended. (The chickweed stems can be a bit stringy so a processor generally works better than a blender.)

Enjoy on toast, crackers, salad or straight off the spoon.

Variations – if you wanted more of a dip consistency you could add an avocado or some tahini.

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