You may notice chickweed listed as an ingredient in weight loss supplements and wondered how it aids weight loss. As with other herbal weight loss remedies on the market, it's important to take claims about chickweed with a grain of salt. Chickweed does have a place in your arsenal of herbal remedies, and it may jump-start your weight loss plan by helping you shed water weight. But the weedy herb's ultimate role in diets is a minor one.
Deceptively dainty-looking, chickweed is a tough weed to eradicate from your garden. The low-lying plant bears small, rounded and fleshy leaves and small star-shaped flowers. Often the first greenery to emerge after snow banks recede, chickweed grows year-round in milder climates. It contains vitamins, minerals and the beneficial fatty acids known as gamma-linolenic acid. Herbalists recommend chickweed not only as a nutritious food and tea ingredient, but also for its ability to sooth rashes and other skin problems.
Natural diuretics may help you lose stubborn inches if some of your weight is due to premenstrual or food-related bloating, notes Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky. Diuretics help you flush your system of excess water by increasing the amount of urine you secrete. Herbs like dandelion and juniper have an anecdotal reputation as bloat-busters, but aren't as embraced by the medical community as proven factors like drinking more water and eating fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Chickweed, with its high water content, is similar to celery and cucumber in that it can be eaten in like a vegetable and because of its gentle diuretic action.
Diuretics only help to banish water weight, not stubborn fat. Unless you have only a little water weight to eradicate, chickweed will likely only give you the psychological boost that comes from slightly looser pants. The Commonwealth of Virginia's Employee Wellness Program notes that chickweed appears in some "fat blocking" supplements. Yet, chickweed is considered a mild diuretic and laxative rather than a plant that prevents your body from absorbing fat. The Virginia wellness program warns consumers about believing claims about chickweed and natural products like psyllium in association with fat-blocking abilities. While chickweed's natural diuretic action may help you eliminate some bloating, it should not form the main part of your weight loss strategy. Cutting calories, increasing exercise and eating a balanced diet remain the best strategies for dropping pounds sensibly.
To reap the nutritional and diuretic benefits of chickweed, infuse fresh or dried bunches of it for tea, suggests wild foods author Steve Brill. He additionally recommends chopping fresh leaves and stems into green salads or steaming several cups of the fresh herb for use as a spinach-like side dish. Chickweed also adds nutrients to soups and casseroles, and can be blended with yogurt for salad dressing.
- "Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants"; Steve Brill; 1994
- Washington State University Spoane County Extension: Common Chickweed
- Commonwealth of Virginia Employee Wellness Program; Weight Loss Supplements: Fact or Fiction?; Becky Hand, RD., LD
- Mayo Clinic; Water Retention: Are There Any Natural Diuretics?; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.; Sept. 5, 2009