Chickweed is, again, very common. The chickweed I have growing in my yard looks slightly different than all the typical pictures so I did a bit of research. Come to find out, there are at least 13 different species of chickweed! But no worries! It looks like they are all interchangeable and equally effective. (and completely edible!) For those interested, Stellaria media is the most commonly used species of chickweed
Parts used: Flowers, stems, leaves.
What is it good for? Chickweed is a great skin soother and treats skin issues such as Irritated skin, rashes, eczema. But keep in mind, these things have a root cause and you should try to identify that and not just treat the symptoms. Chickweed is also a mild diuretic. And it's full of vitamins and nutrients making it an excellent foraged food.
How to use it? Infused herbal oils and salves are great for the skin (this blog post gives the details on making an herbal oil). Or, you can make a poultice. Poultices are super easy and the details are at the end of the post! For the diuretic action of the herb you can make an infusion (details are here) to help with water retention.
Fresh or dry? Either. Typically, I use herbs fresh while they are available. I run outside and pick some out of the backyard whenever I need something. (or yell to the kids to pick some and bring it in the house) We spending time gathering and drying enough for the rest of the year. Keep an eye out for a post in the near future about drying herbs. :)
Making and using a Poultice
A poultice is whole, mashed up herb with a bit of water to make a paste which is then applied to the location requiring treatment. The simplest way to do this is a spit poultice. Yes. It's exactly what it sounds like! You chew up the herb and and stick it, with your spit, on a minor wound or bug bite or sting (chickweed and plantain are both great for this). We use this with the kids frequently when we're outside. It sounds gross, but it works. Promise. You can use fresh or dried herb and mash it with your mortar and pestle, adding a bit of water or honey. Once a paste is formed you can apply it to the affected location. Cover it with a clean cloth or bandage to keep it in place and keep in the heat (Here are some pages with good descriptions and pictures: this and this.)