Urtica dioica

My beloved, my beautiful, my wondrous Nettle, oh how I love thee……

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Right now the land is dancing on the edge of winter and slowly preparing to transition into spring. As I wander the land Im spying the most beautiful and tiny Nettles. They are looking thick and tough and full of gorgeous needle like hairs. I haven’t picked many of them yet as I’m waiting, waiting for them to find their feet, to unfurl and stretch their stems into the sun, I’m waiting until I can feel them say “Yes! Im ready!”

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Nettle for me has been what I call my gateway plant, my ticket into the world of foraging and plant medicine, the plant that opened the door and helped me remember to see again.

This plant is a wily gypsy grandmother who doesn’t care about rules, knows how to give you a good dose of medicine and will make you pull your socks up.

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I used to be scared of this plant, scared of the stinging hairs and its gnarly appearance. When my grandmother lived in a forest clearing you had to push through vast amounts of Nettle to get into the trees, she was surrounded by them. I heard tales of their benefits for the land and our bodies, she would feed me Nettle soup and tea, but still I couldn’t bring myself to love them. Until the day came that I got hay-fever. I tried many things to shift it, natural and unnatural and in the end I remembered some advice I was given. Nettle is a histamine which means its an anti-histamine when you take it so I tried having tea with freshly picked Nettle three times a day and after three weeks I never had Hay-fever again.

At this point my desire to re connect back into the wisdom of the earth and the plants was ignited and I was on full throttle. All my grandmothers words and all the feelings I had had about plants as a a child came back to me. I wanted to know more, and so I learnt about this wonderful being, this potent friend Nettle.

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Nettle as food and medicine-

At this time of year peoples bodies can be rather stagnent, dry, slow and lacking in certain vitamins after the beautiful dark winter days. Many have eaten heavy foods and need some fresh life in their bodies. Nettle has everything we need after these cold days without much in the way of seasonal fresh green.

It is abundant with large amounts of protein, minerals and vitamins. Including selenium, zinc, chromium, calcium, boron, vitamins A,K,C and Bs and chlorophyll.

Nettle is often used to treat fatigue, strengthen the endocrine system, boost fertility, nourish kidneys, help burnt out adrenals and to balance out blood sugar levels. It is a wonderful tonic that cleanses and nourishes all at once. This is the most nutritiously packed plant we have and it can be free if you dare to go out and pick it.(Do not consume the leaves of seeded Nettle but you can eat the seeds for more on seeded Nettle see link below and stay away from dog wee areas)

Regular use of Nettle can increase energy levels, calm the nervous system, nourish depleted and stressed adrenal glands, increase iron in the body add vim and vigour to the soul and give you wondrous shiny locks.

The dried herb makes a nourishing herbal infusion that packs more energy per cup than any stimulant, and without the downside of caffeine or stimulating herbs like cayenne and ginger. Tired teenagers, sleep-deprived new moms, stressed executives, wakeful menopausal gals, and wise women of all ages depend on stinging nettle to restore mood, replenish energy, and guarantee sound sleep.-Susun Weed

To get the most from Nettles they need to be consumed regularly and over time. They are food based and gentle so they take a while to kick in working slowly but very strongly. Gentle does not mean weak.

I consume Nettles in many ways, I add it to smoothies raw, I make pestos with it, pakoras, sauces, cheeses, cakes, fritters, steamed, soups, vinegars and oils.

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But the best way to take it if you are wanting to get the most from it in a medicine form is by infusions. A beautiful drink that has been left to infuse for over 6 hours. The plant can really release its nourishing goodness into the water over this time. I make my infusion when I go to bed; I put the plant into a teapot, cafetiere or mason jar. Pour just boiled water over it and put the lid on. In the morning I take out the plant material which I put in the compost or straight onto the garden and drink the infusion in my water bottle or flask throughout the day. Adding mint is a lovely way of lifting the very earthy flavour into something lighter if preferred. If you can do this for three to four weeks and see if you can feel a difference, let me know if you can.

For more on Nettles-

Nettle seeds for Adrenal health

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