Have you heard of chickweed? Chickweed is a little known herb thought to have a great variety of medicinal uses. It is also an edible plant which can be used in cooking or to make teas, (in tea form it is supposedly an excellent acne wash). And with its high content of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium it is rather good for you! Chickweed is sometimes applied to the skin to relieve pain and to aid healing, and is often an ingredient of various ointments and salves. Chickweed can even be added to a hot bath to help with sores, rashes, boils and burns.

One of our volunteers gave us this recipe for Chickweek Ointment, for dry or irritated skin.
Do not use in place of advice from a doctor or trained medical practitioner. Use extra caution if pregnant – check dose and suitability before use.

Chickweed ointment

Ingredients and equipment:
* Double saucepan or basin in a saucepan of boiling water
* Shallow wide necked screw top jar
* Sieve
* Odourless vegetable oil, grape seed is best
* Handful of chickweed, which you will find growing on soil that has been cultivated.
* Beeswax. (If you don’t know a beekeeper, Baldwin’s sell this)
* A few drops of essential oil e.g. lavender (optional)

1. Remove any roots, dirt or dead leaves from the chickweed and cut into approx 2 inch lengths and place in an oven proof bowl. Press down and cover with vegetable oil. Put in oven at 150c degrees or less. Meanwhile, you can make a batch of shortbread, and by the time this is cooked, your chickweed will be ready for the next stage.

2. Place a piece of beeswax about the size of an eyeball into the top of a double saucepan, add boiling water to the bottom half of the saucepan to melt the wax. Remove from heat. Strain the oil off the chickweed. Squeeze out the last drops of oil, then throw away the chickweed. Allow the oil to cool a little, then add to the melted beeswax in the double saucepan and stir.

3. Remove the top part of the double saucepan and leave to cool and set. You want this mixture to set into a thick cream. If it is too hard, re-melt and add some more oil. If it is still runny, re-melt and add some more wax.

4. When the consistency is right, re-melt and add some drops of essential oil to make it smell nice. Lavender is good.

5. Pour the melted mixture into the jar and leave to cool.

6. This ointment is good for dry or irritated skin. I keep a jar in the kitchen to use after washing up.

7. There are no preservatives in this ointment, so you should only make up a small quantity so that you can use it.

image via science.bayercropscience.co.uk