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  • Cindy Trotter

Botanically Balanced Toner and Acne Treatment Formulated from common ‘Chickweed’

Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a small, sprawling, flowering plant that thrives in moist shady and protected places.  It is a wonderful plant - both edible and medicinal—and can be used in in the kitchen as well as in tinctures, teas, or in infusions or extractions.

To identify it, compare to a great reference book, or ask a neighbor.  Most everyone can identify chickweed because it’s so common.  Look for a bright green small sprawling plant that forms a tangled mat with small heart shaped leaves that occur opposite on the stem at the node. When the flowers are blooming, they are tiny and white.  Interestingly, the five petaled flowers may appear to have 10 petals because they are ‘split.’ Sometimes the split in the petal goes all the way down to the base of the petal and it’s difficult to determine that it’s really one petal.  Usually there is at least one petal in the ray that isn’t all the way split. 

There may be a cluster of small triangular shaped flower buds at the tip of the plant before the flowers bloom.  Older stems may be purple and slightly larger than the younger green stems in the matt of the plant. 

There are many small plants that form a sprawling mat, and it’s easy to be confused, though it’s very important because some of these spring mat forming green plants can cause stomach upset if confused with chickweed.  But there are some very specific identifying factors.

Common identifiers:

· A short, semi-evergreen plant that grows in a tangled mat or patch

· Small, smooth, oval, leaves occurring opposite, along the stem

· Small, white, star-shaped flowers with five split petals that appear in the upper leaf axils

 

Hmmmm….? There are several small mat forming plants that may have one or more of these characteristics. But only chickweed has:

· A single line of fine hairs along one side of the stem, which rotates between nodes

· A stretchy central core inside the stem

· No white milky sap when snapped or crushed

 

To positively identify a small plant with white flowers, first snap or crush a stem.  If the sap is milky, it is not chickweed.  Next, carefully break the stem. If as you pull it apart, you will notice that there is a ‘string in the middle’. You can pull it apart, but the stringy cord may stretch a bit before it snaps.  Then lastly, hold the stem up to light.  What seems to be a smooth stem, actually has tiny hairs.  The interesting thing is that there is only one row or line of hairs on one side of the stem.  Sometimes this row of fine hairs occurs on the stem all the way up one side, and other times it seems to change position on the stem at each node. But on each section, there will only be one row of little hairs.  If you are going to eat chickweed raw you will never notice the hairs on the stem. No furry, hairy texture will interrupt your salad pleasure.

 

In the Kitchen

In the kitchen, simply bring it in, wash well, and add to your salads.  Use in cooked greens too, adding it just after cooking and just before serving to preserve its texture.  It has a mildly sweet, fresh taste that adds a little something exotic to a dish; a real feat, considering how common it really is!  I love it in stir fries, scrambles eggs and quiches, and in sandwiches as a sandwich green.  It can also be used as a garnish, or even as a bed of greens under a main course. 

For more information about eating Chickweed or using it in the kitchen contact Cindy Trotter, Certified Foraging Educator at Therapeuo Wellness.


Formulating “Botanical Balance” a skin toning, and acne preventing tonic

While Chickweed is a beautiful supporting green in the kitchen, it truly shines in skin care. 

Chickweed, has been studied for its numerous skin benefits, attributed to its rich array of plant compounds. This herb acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, offering relief to inflamed skin, which is particularly advantageous for individuals suffering from conditions such as eczema or rosacea. Its soothing properties are evident as it imparts a cooling effect, making it an ideal remedy for minor burns, wounds, and various skin eruptions. Chickweed is also known for its healing capabilities; it has been traditionally utilized to expedite the wound healing process while simultaneously alleviating skin irritation and itchiness. More-over, chickweed possesses antiseptic qualities due to its compound content, aiding in the treatment of skin infections.

These compounds includes a variety of bioactive substances that contribute to its medicinal properties. Some of these compounds are:

Notice how many of these ‘compounds’ are also classed as ‘nutritionals.’ But for our purposes here, the interest in chickweed is skin care. These compounds work synergistically to provide the therapeutic benefits of chickweed, making it a valuable herb for skin care and overall health.

 

So, Let’s get to it! 

 

Botanically Balanced Skin Care Tonic

Creating a Botanically Balanced Skincare Tonic with fresh chickweed, witch hazel, and    aloe juice is a straightforward process. Here’s a simple guide to making your own herbal tonic:

Ingredients:

· Fresh chickweed

· Witch hazel

· Aloe vera juice

Instructions:

1. Prepare the Chickweed: Begin by thoroughly washing the fresh chickweed to remove any dirt or impurities. Pat it dry with a clean towel. Or whirl it in a salad spinner.

2. Infuse Chickweed with Witch Hazel: Place the clean chickweed in a glass jar and pour witch hazel over it. Ensure the herb is fully submerged. Seal the jar and let it sit in a cool, dark place for two-four weeks to allow the chickweed to infuse into the witch hazel. This process extracts the beneficial compounds from the chickweed into the witch hazel.

3. Strain the Infusion: After two weeks, strain the witch hazel infusion using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove all the plant material. You’ll be left with a chickweed-infused witch hazel, which serves as the base for your skincare tonic.    

Add Aloe Vera Juice: Measure the chickweed-infused witch hazel and add an equal amount of aloe vera juice to it. Aloe vera is known for its hydrating and soothing properties, which will complement the effects of the chickweed.

2. Mix Well: Stir the mixture thoroughly to ensure the aloe vera juice is well combined with the chickweed-infused witch hazel.

3. Bottle Your Tonic: Pour the mixture into a clean bottle with a tight-fitting lid or a spray bottle for easy application.

4. Store Properly: Keep your Botanically Balanced Skincare Tonic in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness.  To use, pour a small amount into a small dark glass spray bottle to keep in the bathroom or wherever you care for your skin, reserving the remaining toner in the refrigerator.  It should stay fresh on the bathroom counter for 3 or 4 weeks.  Use within a month for best results. Toner stored in the refrigerator has a 6-12 month shelf-life.

Usage:

· Apply the tonic to a clean face using a cotton pad or spray directly onto the skin.

· Use it in the morning and evening after cleansing and before moisturizing.

Enjoy the natural, soothing benefits of your homemade Botanically Balanced Skincare Tonic!

While it’s true that 2-4 weeks seems to be a long time to wait for your toner; and there’s no disgrace in buying a bottle of Botanically Balanced chickweed toner to use while your chickweed infuses.  True, it’s way more expensive than your personally formulated one, but there’s the advantage of it being ready when you need it, like now.

If you enjoyed this simple lesson, please contact Cindy at Therapeuo Wellness to find out about Personalized Plant walks on your property or DIY botanical classes at Therapeuo Wellness in Warrenton MO.  Send us a message and follow our Facebook page!


 

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