Chickweed, also known as star chickweed and star weed, grows wild in many areas of the world. Like many types of plants, chickweed contains properties that might provide certain health benefits. Dieters often drink the tea made from the leaves of chickweed plants as part of a weight-loss program. According to the Washington State University Extension, people living in medieval times consumed the tea for various medicinal purposes. Gathering wild plants for tea requires careful identification to avoid consuming other types of plants that might resemble chickweed. Chickweed is an herbal supplement that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Commonly treated as a weed in alfalfa fields, this plant forms small blossoms that resemble white stars. The plant flowers throughout the growing season, with the flowers opening in the night and closing during rainy weather. The tea used in some weight-loss plans contains the aerial parts of the plant, such as the blossoms, leaves and stems.
According to the Washington State University Extension, chickweed acts as an expectorant, mild laxative, tonic and diuretic. Both the diuretic and laxative action of this tea might cause temporary weight loss from water elimination. Some proponents of using chickweed for dietary purposes claim this tea also exhibits a tendency to control appetite, although scientific evidence does not support this claim.
DigHerbs.com recommends making a medicinal tea by adding a 1 tbsp. of dried chickweed herb to 1 cup of boiling water. Steep the tea for about 10 minutes before removing the herb from the water.
In addition to its common use as a weight loss aid, this herbal tea may provide other dietary benefits. Chickweed contains a fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid. Also known as omega-6 fatty acids, this substance plays a crucial role in growth and development. Consuming this nutrient from chickweed tea might help provide a low-calorie alternative to other sources of food that contain omega-6 fatty acids.
As part of a balanced diet, this tea might supply an enjoyable beverage, as well as provide a gentle diuretic and laxative effect. Taking this tea with other products that supply the same benefits might increase these effects. As with other types of herbal therapies, pregnant women and individuals with health problems should contact medical professionals before beginning the therapy.