Herb of the Month – Nettle

July 6, 2013

URTICA DIOICA (Stinging nettle)

Most peoplNettlee run in the opposite direction when they see the Stinging Nettle plant. I don’t blame them really because this herb needs to be approached with much respect, any other approach will simply lead to an unpleasant encounter, and trust me – Nettle will usually always win!

What makes Nettle so fearsome are the fine stinging hairs that cover the entire plant. These hairs contain formic acid – the same kind of chemical found in ants that is responsible for the bite in their sting.

Other interesting chemical ingredients in Nettles include acetylcholine, histamine, and 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin). (1)

Nutritionally, Nettle is packed with all kinds of awesome vitamins and minerals, including (but certainly not limited to) iron, silica, and vitamin C.

 

PARTS USED:     

  • Aerial parts, especially the leaves.

 

ACTIONS:

  • Diuretic
  • Galactogogue
  • Hypoglycemic

 

USES:

  • For all kinds of skin disease (especially if poor circulation is involved) including eczema and allergic reactions on the skin.
  • Due to iron and mineral content, good for mild anemia and generally to “build” the blood.
  • Will help slow bleeding anywhere in the body (internally and externally) and is specific for uterine hemorrhage.
  • Will help flush excess uric acid out of the body thereby easing acidic conditions such gout and arthritis.
  • As an aid in late-onset diabetes – it has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels.
  • It can be taken freely to promote milk production in nursing mothers.
  • Will help remove excess fluid from the body (it acts as a mild diuretic) without causing any mineral imbalances.

 

DOSE:   

Tea: 1-3 cups daily (not at bed-time as it may disrupt sleep by promoting need to urinate).

Tincture:  50-100 drops, 1-3 times daily.

 

OTHER COMMENTS: 

Traditionally, nettle has been used as a Spring tonic in some European countries. Not surprising, as it helps to flush toxins out of the body while replenishing nutrients.

Nettle can also be eaten and when lightly cooked, is very similar to spinach. When Nettle is heated or dried, the stingers become neutralized and the plant can be handled without the need for gloves.

If you’re out and about and have the misfortune to have a physical encounter with a Nettle plant, the stinging sensation can be reduced by applying a paste made from baking soda/water, or if there is a burdock plant growing near-by (there usually is!) the juice from the plant applied directly to the sting will neutralize the discomfort.

Ironically, the juice from the Nettle plant will neutralize the sting it can give, but extracting the juice can be a little tricky unless you have a pair of gloves.

Generally the stinging sensation only lasts about 15-20 mins and in most cases is described as “mildly uncomfortable”.

As with other mineral-containing herbs (such as Chamomile), Nettle can be used as a final hair rinse to strengthen hair, balance natural oils, and to give a healthy shine. Simply make a strong infusion by using approx. 2 tablespoons of dried (or 4 tablespoons of fresh) Nettle to about 2 cups of boiled water. Let steep until cool, strain out the herb then use the “tea” to rinse your hair.

 

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(1) Reference: http://www.nettles.org.uk/nettles/lore.asp

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