First of all, I would like to apologize about the very long interval between my writings. I am aware that many of you were left on the edge of your seats waiting for more information on nettle, and I don’t want to seem unsteady in my reporting of hard hitting herbal information. This time of year can get a little overwhelming for me, with a dizzying array of flora all competing for plog space. I plan to wrap it up tidily at this point, because to be perfectly honest, some of the other spring plants are getting a bit jealous.
It’s always hard to know where to begin with Nettle. Nettle is beneficial for so many conditions, when I list them all I fear I may come off as bit of a snake oil salesman. Not only do nettles have a positive effect on multiple body systems, and each part of the nettle can be employed for different purposes. You can even use its fibrous stalks to make fabric and rope if you ever find yourself with a lot of time on your hands (and a lot of gloves on your hands). Tomes have been written on the properties of our fair Nettle. But, for the sake of brevity, here’s my best snake oil pitch: (to be read at a fast pace with much enthusiasm)
Allays Allergic Ailments!
Nettles provide relief from seasonal allergies by exerting an anti-histamine effect in the body. This is carried out by those no-nonsense stingers on the fresh nettle plant and it is less effective for this purpose when it’s dried. Therefore, for best results, it is prudent to use FREEZE-DRIED Stinging Nettle in capsules. (This will be one of the only times I will ever recommend buying capsules over taking the tea or tincture). I recommend Eclectic brand nettle caps, because I trust their herb quality and their exacting preparation of the nettles. (Buying herbs in capsule form is dodgy business- more on that later). Freeze-drying gives you the therapeutic effect of eating fresh nettles without the physical punishment of actually doing so. The dose is 2-4 capsules twice a day during allergy season. It always works best if you begin this regimen the month before your main allergen blooms. Example: If Alder is your nemesis come March, start taking nettle caps in February. If you missed the boat on that one, start now-it will still help. (Puppy News: Molly is currently enjoying nettle powder on her meals to help with her cute little puppy allergies. It is working great!)
Revivifying Renal Tonic!
For those of you prone to kidney and bladder problems, nettles can strengthen renal function and tone and soothe the mucosa of the urinary tract. A prompt diuretic, Nettle increases the volume of urine and supports the excretion waste products. I use nettles for cystitis, recurrent UTI’s, water retention, and kidney and bladder stones. Tea is the best preparation for problems of the urinary tract, so try drinking a quart of nettle tea per day. To make a cup of nettle tea put 4-6 Tbls. of dried nettle leaf in a quart of freshly boiled water. Let steep for 20 minutes up to overnight. Pee away your problems with Nettle!
Nature’s Nifty Nutriment!
Nettle’s profound effect on multiple body systems stems in part from it’s nutritional profile, which puts most of our cultivated “greens” to shame. Nettle is not only greener than most plants (it’s off the charts in terms of chlorophyll), it rides that fine line between food and medicine. Eating or drinking nettles offers significant amounts of vital nutrients in a highly absorbable form, most notably Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and trace minerals. Nettle tea is one of my favorite remedies for maintaining or improving bone density. It gives those large 6-a-day horse-pill calcium tablets a run for their money.
Nettles astringency can be employed in any situation where bleeding needs to be checked. It is a popular and effective treatment for excessive uterine bleeding (let’s not test her powers by foregoing medical care in life threatening situations though, OK?). I use nettles mostly during non-acute bleeding, when its predictable but annoying. Regular use of nettle tea successfully slows or stops bleeding from uterine fibroids or those weird cycles throughout menopause where the bleeding never ends. Midwives use nettles to control spotting during pregnancy and for post-partum bleeding. Though nettles work particularly well in the uterus, they will also slow or stop bleeding in the bladder, lungs, or digestive tract. (Do I need to caution you that these problems can signal a deeper issue? Make sure bleeding from strange internal places is not serious before using nettles to stop it). She’s even great for shrinking hemorrhoids. (And very discreet.)
Pregnancy and Postpartum Panacea!
Not only will Nettle prevent excess blood loss during childbirth, it is an excellent nutritive herb that is safe for use throughout pregnancy. Its astringency tones and prepares the uterus for the big event, while the high nutrient content feeds your tissues, relaxes aching muscles, and speeds the removal of metabolic waste products (not to mention shrinking those cankles in the last trimester!) Nettle’s supportive effect on the adrenals can help you to maintain steady energy and spirits through this demanding physiologic process. Once your babe is in your arms, nettle tea will supply you with the nutrients to produce ample, nutritious milk.
Hey guys! Nettle root tincture is just the thing for prostate inflammation and urinary tract problems. Remember what I just said about it’s effect on the female reproductive system? Well Nettle’s astringency is tonifying for you Outies, too. I usually combine Nettle root tincture with Saw Palmetto to prevent and treat the symptoms of BPH.
Vanguard of Vanity!
If none of the scenarios above apply to you, Nettle has one last trick up her stalk. Perhaps an appeal to your vanity might win you over? Those abundant minerals and vitamins I keep going on about, well how would you like to see them set to work on transforming your hair into a gleaming mane? Or restoring a youthful glow and suppleness to the skin? Or strengthening those raggedy nails of yours? Regular consumption of nettle tea will do the trick, or for a more direct approach (if you don’t want to bother with all of those systemic health benefits) you can make a nettle vinegar to apply to the hair in the shower. Your hair will look just like those Pantene commercials, but will smell faintly of vinegar for an hour or so after (worth it.) Nettle seeds are reported to stimulate hair growth even better than the leaves and I have made a small batch of nettle seed vinegar hair rinse for research purposes. (I am currently looking for unpaid research participants.)
Well, there you have it, and these are but a few of Nettle’s many astounding attributes! However, now that the nettle stalks are a few feet high in the Puget Sound, I’ll be moving on to other topics. Nettle takes a graceful bow and will bask in her accolades until next spring. But like any good snake oil peddler, I’ve got nettles for sale! Inquire by emailing me at email@example.com.
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