Stinging Nettle - how I love thee...
From my blog at http://melindarodriguezdotcom.wordpress.com/
As any nature-loving gal can share, if you hike on a warm day in shorts, watch forStinging Nettle! If you rub against it, it can feel like you swiped your shin on a barbed wire fence, without leaving a trace of blood. It doesn’t last long, but those few moments you wont’ soon forget. Nor should you forget for it is Mother Earth’s way of getting your attention and saying “Hello lovey! I’ve got this amazing defense mechanism that likewise creates amazing defense against a plethora of ailments of the body and mind. Did I get your attention with that sting? Good! Now respectfully harvest this blessed herb, or do the urban harvest and order online and brew it up my beloved!”
Women (and men) have an innate connection to the earth. If we tune in to that connection, we will find that she offers a wealth of medicine for our personal needs. My reference to medicine here does not refer to a pill or other pharmaceutical. Rather, it encompasses an essence that brings personal power, understanding and healing to the body, mind and spirit. This kind of medicine is often associated with a specific trait connected to an animal, insect, plant, or human. That medicine has a way of showing up in your life in a variety of ways. That fact that you are reading this indicates you are magnetizing to the medicine of Nettle.
Several years ago I experienced my own magnetization to Nettle. I kept seeing brief references to it here and there over and over again. My wisdom was actually hounding me about it. I even discovered it was growing wild in my own backyard. I did a little research on the herb and became quite intrigued. Not intrigued enough to harvest it myself from my back yard, but enough to embark upon an urban harvest of ordering online. Hey, you gotta start somewhere! Someday I’ll dive into the next phase of herbal exploration and actually pick it and build a further relationship with what has become a most powerful ally for me.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of the most potent healing and nourishing herbs I have experienced. I began making infusions (which I will explain how to make below) and drinking several glasses daily. The first thing I noticed was my energy level went through the roof! I was amazed that I did not need to rely on adrenal taxing caffeine to provide me the vigor I needed to get though my day, but rather this exhilarating elixir supplied me with all the vitality I desired – without impeding sleep! Then came all of the other more subtle, yet immensely powerful effects of this supremely powerful herb.
Susan Weed, one of the greatest and wisest herbalist and teacher on the subject, says “stinging nettles nourish and support the entire body, particularly the endocrine, immune, urinary, respiratory, and circulatory systems. Nettle root is also a kidney ally and lymphatic/immune strengthener.” Well of course, Nettle is chock full of necessary nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron, B complex vitamins, C complex, vitamins A, D and K. She has protein, cobalt, trace minerals, potassium, zinc, copper and sulphur and is especially rich in chlorophyll.
Corinna Wood, another noted herbalist says “Nettle has long been revered for its benefits to the kidneys and adrenals. The kidneys allow us to expel toxins and the adrenals help us to respond to stress (think adrenaline), so given the challenges of modern life, most folks can benefit profoundly from nettle’s medicinal properties. Additionally, she offers relief from seasonal allergies, strengthens the bones, hair and nails and nurtures the lungs, nervous, hormonal and immune systems – that covers a lot of ground.”
That does cover a lot of ground! And no wonder Nettle can do all of that, According to Susan Weed a quart of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins. There is no denser nutrition found in any plant, not even blue green algae; and nettle is much more reasonably priced than any supplement, especially if you buy more than an ounce at a time. My favorite resource is mountainroseherbs.com. In fact, I have purchased Nettle from a local merchant and for whatever reason, even though the Nettle came from the same place as does the stuff you get at Mountain Rose Herbs, it just didn’t have the same impact on me. Maybe it was in my mind, I don’t know, but that is certainly one of my authorities so I’m sticking with Mountain Rose until I harvest myself.
One of Susan Weed’s students reports “After drinking a quart of nettle infusion daily for only four days, I now have more energy then my toddler! Now, when he goes to sleep, I get some time to myself, instead of falling asleep with him. I can’t thank you enough for the gift of nettle.” Nettle builds energy from the inside out by nourishing the adrenals. Nettle smoothly and persistently carries optimum nourishment to every cell in the body. Weed reports “Because the minerals in nettle infusion are polarized to the blood, they are literally magnetized into the blood stream without needing to be digested. Drinking a glass of cold nettle infusion pumps so much nourishment into the blood; you’ll feel invigorated in just a few days.”
Susan also says that regular use of stinging nettle (2-3 quarts a week) not only increases energy, it brings a shine and swing to the hair, strengthens fingernails, clears and firms skin, restores elasticity to blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, counters incontinence, improves digestion, reduces cancer risk, and strengthens the lungs.
One woman reports “My doctor is astonished. He insisted that I had to take drugs to deal with my severe osteoporosis. Instead, I drank two quarts of nettle infusion a week for several years. According to my latest bone scan, I now—at the age of 67—have the bone mass of a woman half my age. Ha, ha, ha! With nettle, I get the last laugh on modern medicine.”
But wait, as if you haven’t heard enough about how awesome Nettle is, if you are trying to conceive, are pregnant or nursing, check this out: Many midwives consider Nettles a primary fertility promoter and one of the richest plant sources of folic acid, which is vital for fetal health. The vitamin K helps prevent hemorrhage and the protein, vitamins and minerals in nettle enriches breast milk.
What is important to understand is that we must consume lots of nettle to get this kind of mighty nutrition. A simple tea, capsule or tincture just won’t cut it! An infusion is required. I infuse a full ounce of dried nettle to a quart of water to make my brew. Infusing nettle maximizes its energy-enhancing effects as well. Taking the time to make a real infusion is NOT difficult or even time consuming and if you consider the benefits, any time invested is an investment in yourself which in my opinion is an account we should all be making huge deposits into!
To make a nettle infusion: Measure out one ounce of the dried herb into a quart jar (I like mason jars). Boil a quart of water and pour into the quart jar and fill to the top with the boiling water. Stir, then put the lid on tightly and set aside to brew for at least four hours, or overnight. Once brewed, strain and squeeze the liquid out of the herb. Be sure to refrigerate your infusion, as it will go bad at room temperature once it is done brewing. If that happens however, you can use it as plant food!
I also like to add two large pinches of mint to the nettle for taste. I must admit, the first time I made it, it smelled like a fish tank. But it tasted better thankfully. I don’t sweeten it, but many people do. Some mix it with a little apple juice to enhance the taste. Experiment with what works for you.
Some tips on making an infusion – put a stainless steel knife into the jar with the herb BEFORE you pour in the hot water and don’t take it out until you have poured all the water into the jar (watch your fingers, it will be HOT). I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had jars break on me from the heat – and oh what a mess! Granted, those were not mason jars, but I don’t risk it anymore. The knife acts as a conductor for the heat. Thank you Dad for showing me that trick! Also, again as extra caution, put the jar in the sink as you pour the hot water into it. This way, if for whatever reason the jar does break, the mess is in the sink instead of all over your floor. Lastly, I prefer to infuse over night. You can make the infusion as your making dinner then let it infuse over night, or do it as you do your other nightly kitchen rituals. And that’s just what making an infusion is to me – a ritual. My kitchen is a healing space and on the counter is a small alter (items of sacredness to me) that represent the healing that goes on there through preparations…like infusion making!
If you haven’t already, are you ready to take a stab at making an infusion? Let me know if you have questions. I’m here to help!