March 2012 - Herbs for Healing Newsletter in association with Transition Tradition:
The Nettle and its medicinal benefits
Herb of the month: the nettle
Nettles are not the most popular of plants. They sting and can be a stubborn weed in gardens and along garden fences. ..Do nettles need even an introduction? We all know the plant. Few of us however know and appreciate their benefits to health.
The young shoots that appear in Spring are an excellent blood tonic. They are loaded with vitamins
and minerals: vitamin A, C, E, B1, B2, B3 and B5, and calcium, chlorophyll, iron, zinc, potassium, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.
Nettles, when taken as a herbal infusion or even as fresh juice, act like a tonic and spring cleanse due to their diuretic properties.
Young nettle shoots make an excellent blood tonic
Nettles have been shown to cleanse the blood, stimulate bladder and kidneys, improve digestive
processes and strengthen the pancreas.
Due to their high mineral content nettles have an alkalinising effect which will help to prevent
rheumatic conditions. Nettles together with dandelion increase uric acid excretion, which eases
symptoms of gout and rheumatism.
Spring is the time of year when fresh fruit and vegetables are in short supply except the ones that are imported from other countries.
This is the time of year to venture out and gather what nature has to offer, for free!
Nettles can be eaten in many forms: as a herbal infusion, fresh leaves mixed with a green salad,
cooked as a vegetable like spinach or mixed with fruit and vegetables and juiced.
On the continent of Europe people juice fresh nettles and drink this as a ‘spring cure’. One to three teaspoonfuls of fresh nettle juice diluted with a little water taken daily for one month has a powerful tonic effect, clearing away the ‘cobwebs’ of sluggishness and phlegm accumulated during the winter months.
nettle tops eaten in spring, consumeth the phlegmatic superfluities in the body of man, that the coldness and moistness of winter hath left behind”
Culpeper came to this conclusion as a result of experience and observation. Modern science has found evidence of this claim by analysing the constituents of nettles and their effects upon the body.
Nettles are among the safest herbs on the planet. It is one of the oldest and most famous medicinal plants. Spring is the time of year which many people look forward to, others dread this time of year because it means runny noses and read eyes: the hay fever season.
A preliminary human study found that nettle capsules helped reduce sneezing and itching in people with hay fever. This may be due to the nettle’s ability to reduce the amount of histamine the body produces in response to an allergen.
Some doctors recommend taking a freeze-dried preparation of stinging nettle well before hay fever season starts. A spoonful of local honey together with the nettle can prepare the immune system to the exposure of pollen and thus weaken the symptoms of hay fever.