This is the balm I’ve been making clients for years. My mum, also a herbalist, has large patches of chickweed grace her garden most years. Many years ago she encouraged me to make use of it, my clients loved it and I’ve been making it ever since. It’s something anyone could do at home so I thought I’d share the process.
The beauty of chickweed is in the eye if the beholder. To some people it’s nothing more than a weed. Chickens absolutely love it (hence the name, see?) and in many parts of the world they eat it as a salad green (try it!). Its little green leaves contain good levels of iron and zinc. To herbalists it’s a valuable part of our dispensary due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-itch qualities. I use it in tincture form too, but for this balm the fresh herb is perfect.
Chickweed loves to grow in soggy spots! Look in sports fields or damp, shady parts of your garden. It generally thrives in winter and spring so these are the best times to harvest it. Look at photos to make sure you have the right plant – I always look for the light green pointed leaves that grow in oposing pairs. Once you have yourself a specimen I’d suggest letting some of it self-seed in a patch of garden. If you’re lucky you won’t have to go hunting for it the following year (isn’t nature amazing?).
I use avocado oil as the base which gives this balm extra anti inflammatory properties. It’s full of vitamin E and other antioxidants for skin healing.
25gm Fresh Chickweed (including stalks but with any roots or dirt covered stalks removed)
100ml Avocado oil (readily found at the supermarket)
10gm Beeswax (you can get it online here)*
Muslin cloth for straining
Using the double boiling method gently heat your chickweed and oil (see photo).
Continue to stir the chickweed and oil over the gently simmering water till the chickweed is completely submerged and begins to darken in colour. Turn the heat right down and leave to infuse for 2 hours (or more).
Next, let the oil and herb cool. Lay your muslin across a large bowl before adding the herb and oil mixture. Gather the sides of the muslin and lift, allowing the oil to drain through the cloth, squeezing gently to encourage the flow.
Return the strained, infused oil to your bowl and double boiler set up. Heat gently adding the beeswax and stirring to help it melt. While this is happening set up your sterilised jars. When the wax is incorporated pour into the waiting jars while still warm. If you wait it’ll start to harden in the bowl. Tighten the jar lids while the balm is still hot.
At the clinic I add a few extra herbal tinctures which are:
The balm is beautiful without these optional extras though. You can also add a few drops of lavender oil (at the beeswax stage) which adds a lovely smell to the balm.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I love, love, love the idea of more people utilising what nature provides. Using your kitchen as a pharmacy and knowing more about the plants around us is something I’m really passionate about. Let me know how you go!
*I like to use the comb sheet beeswax and at this company you can buy it in a 10 sheet pack. Look under candle making.