Also see Hool, 1922: Chickweed.
Natural Order—Caryophyllaceae. Linnean System, Class 10. Decandria; Order 3rd, Trigynia.
Roots fibrous, stem fine at the beginning, but growing thicker as it ascends. It is procumbent, smooth, cylindrical, and branched; the leaves are opposite, the lower ones on leaf-stalks, the upper ones springing from the stem, varying in shape from heart to heart-spear, and tapering to a point. The flowers are a beautiful white, with a silvery grey tint, erect, and grow on flower-stalks of from 1 to 1½ inches long; the calyx is in five parts, each part being concave, between egg and egg-spear-shaped, sometimes found smooth and sometimes hairy. Common.
Medicinal Properties: Emollient, Demulcent, Resolvent, Diuretic, Pectoral.
It may be used in powder, infusion, decoction, fomentations, ointments, or poultices. It is good in all cases of weakness, inflammation of the stomach and bowels, bronchial tubes, lungs, and for peritonitis, or any form of internal inflammation. It has a wonderfully soothing and healing influence upon all parts it comes into contact with, and, in addition to its other virtues, possesses as much nutriment as is contained in many articles of food. In all cases of weak constitution, especially those of the asthmatic and consumptive, it will be found both strengthening and healing. As an outward application for all kinds of wounds, inflamed surfaces, boils, scalds, burns, skin diseases, piles, fistulas, cancers, old wounds, bad legs, inflamed or sore eyes, tumors, erysipelas, deafness, swelled testes, ulcerated throat or mouth, there is not its equal as a remedial agent in the whole Botanic Materia Medica. For bronchitis, pleurisy, pleuritic and rheumatic pains, coughs and hoarseness, take 1 oz. of the dried or 2 oz. of the fresh-gathered herb, and boil in 1½ pints of water down to 1 pint. Strain, and take half a teacupful every two or three hours.
For constipation of the bowels, or where the bowels are thoroughly obstructed, get a small handful of the fresh herb and boil in 1½ pints of water down to 1 pint; take one teacupful just warm every two hours until the desired effect is produced.
For external use, take one handful of the herb, and boil in two quarts of water for 10 minutes. Then wash the parts affected with the hot or warm liquid for about 5 or 10 minutes, and afterwards apply the Chickweed ointment. The ointment is made by taking 1-lb. of leaf-lard and ½-lb. of the fresh, green herb; cut it up into small pieces, place in a stone jar, and render together in a hot oven for 2 or 3 hours, being careful not to let it burn; then strain through a cloth into another jar, and when cold it will be fit for use.
Health from British Wild Herbs was written by Richard Lawrence Hool, N.A.M.H., in 1918.