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Uses of Chickweed Some - Interactions occuring with Chickweed

Taxonomic Class

Caryophyllaceae

Common Trade Names

Multi-ingredient preparations: Chickweed formula

Common Forms

Available as capsules, the crude herb, liquid extracts (alcohol-free available), oils, ointments, tea bags (caffeine-free), and tinctures.

Source

Components are extracted from the leaves, stems, and flowers of Stellaria media, which is native to Europe.

Chemical Components

The active components are mainly unknown. Herbal literature lists various components, such as most of the B complex vitamins, calcium, coumarin, flavonoids (rutin), hydroxycoumarin, iron, nitrate salts, saponins, and vitamins A and C.

Actions

None reported. One in vitro animal study isolated two flavonoid components from the herb that possessed antioxidant activity .

Reported Uses

This widely occurring "weed" is commonly prescribed by herbalists as a remedy for both internal and external inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatism and skin disorders (eczema and psoriasis), and for its ability to relieve skin irritation and pruritus. Claims have also been made for chickweed as an antipyretic, an antitussive, and an expectorant as well as an excess-fat reducer because of its mild diuretic and laxative effects.

Chickweed has also been used internally as a "blood cleanser" and as a demulcent for soothing sore throats and stomach ulcers. Externally, it has been used as a poultice to help draw out fluid from abscesses and boils and as an ointment or salve to relieve burns, insect stings and bites, and rashes. Chickweed is claimed to be an excellent emollient for dry, chapped skin and to promote early healing of wounds and cuts, but little evidence exists to support these claims.

Dosage

  • Traditional uses suggest the following doses:

  • Capsules: 3 capsules P.O. t.i.d.

  • Liquid extract: 15 to 30 gtt (diluted) P.O. up to t.i.d.

  • Ointment: applied liberally to affected areas as needed up to q.i.d.

  • Tea: several times daily as needed.

Adverse Reactions

None reported.

Interactions

None reported.

Contraindications And Precautions

Avoid using chickweed in pregnant or breast-feeding patients; effects are unknown.

Special Considerations

  • Caution the patient about adverse reactions that may occur with nitrates (headache, hypotension, syncope).

  • Alert Herbal literature reports one case of nitrate toxicity in grazing farm animals and one case of human paralysis resulting from ingestion of excessive amounts of chickweed. Both reports are attributed to the herb's nitrate content, and the findings remain controversial.

  • Although no known chemical interactions have been reported in clinical studies, consideration must be given to the pharmacologic properties of the herbal product and the potential for exacerbation of the intended therapeutic effect of conventional drugs.

  • Caution the patient against consuming chickweed because of the lack of clinical data.

  • Advise women to avoid using chickweed during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

Commentary

Despite widespread claims by herbalists of chickweed's potential value for various ailments, clinical evidence supporting these therapeutic applications is insufficient.

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