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Plant Profile: Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle: Urtica dioica

Herbal Actions: Alterative, nutritive, anti- allergenic, anti-inflammatory, tonic, astringent, diuretic, kidney trophorestorative & hepatic (seeds), reduces prostate enlargement (root)

Parts Used: Leaves, seeds & roots

System Affinity: organs of elimination, urinary system, kidneys, reproductive organs (deficient Scorpio)

Energetics: Cooling, drying

Planetary Ruler: Mars & Pluto

Preparations: Juice, infusion, decoction, vinegar, tincture, poultice

Nettle germinates early in the year and comes into it's prime for leaf harvesting at a time when nutrient dense food is difficult to come by in a seasonal diet. It is an ally to replenish, restore and clarify our bodies to shake off the sluggishness from a long winter. As it builds up our blood and strengthens our bodies metabolic functions, nettle prepares us for the transitions of the spring and summer seasons in all of it's change and pollen filled glory.

If there are two attributes to remember about the virtues of stinging nettle, it's that it purifies and nourishes both the physical and psycho-spiritual body. A traditional cleansing herb, stinging nettle directly enhances the bodies ability to regulate toxicity by supporting the inherent functioning of our organs of elimination and then gently moving this toxicity through diuresis. Through it's comprehensive nutrient and mineral profiles, nettle replenishes our very cells and the fundamental systems and process that build from them.

Nettle is useful for regulating excess heat in the body, which can manifests in various degrees of inflammation within the tissue, organs, skin and mucus membranes. Energetic and physical symptoms such as dry, itchy skin conditions (like eczema or hives), seasonal allergies, arthritis and general heat/inflammation are very clear indications that the cooling, clearing and nutritional attributes of nettle can be greatly supportive. Nettle is helpful to manage overheating during the summer as well, especially when prepared as an easy and cooling iced tea beverage to enjoy in the shade in a long afternoon.

Prolonged heat within the system can eventually become damp or "humid". Constantly stuffy or "drippy" noses and an overall dampness within the respiratory system, joints & digestive tract- stinging nettle is perhaps the premier herb to look to when regulating allergies, chronic heat as well as arthritic flair up of joints. Typically this type of tissue state is accompanied by an overall sense of lethargy and sluggishness with an inability to shake things off and heightened sensitivity to changing seasons, climates and situations.

Nettle cools an overheated mind that wants to pull us in different directions. It helps us to shed patterns of frenetic thought and align more deeply with actions that serve a bigger concept or purpose. Nettle is a specific ally for those who experience a general sense of frustration, inability to clearly direct energy and thoughts as well as those inclined towards patterns of chronic stress, burn out and adrenal fatigue. The evolutionary function of this plant is to provide the clear sight to guide purposeful action so that our energetic inclinations are channeled and working toward a bigger picture- not scattered, agitated and prone to ineffective tangents.

Leaves, seeds & roots- all parts of stinging nettle are utilized as medicine as the plant journeys through it's life cycle through the year. Though the leaves are what is most commonly found and utilized, the seeds and roots are valuable medicine for working with the kidneys as well as the urinary & reproductive system. The seeds have a restorative effect on the liver and kidneys and have a particular affinity for the adrenals that have "burned out"-especially for those who have a tendency to experience this state as a chronic pattern. The root of nettle is supportive to the health of the prostate as well as the deeper processes and psycho spiritual imbalances within the reproductive system (particularly for males or those who identify as males).

Nettle has a refreshing tastes that your body will yearn, the compliance rate with children, elders and everyone in between is highly tolerated. Use in simple tea infusions and celebrate the spring and summer season by making annual batches of pesto, vinegar infusions or soups ( you can find those recipes below).

These recipes are loose, the magic of working with plants as medicine and food comes from our ability to be spontaneous and use what we have on hand! No need to worry about the sting from the trichomes of the nettle, once it comes into contact with heat, water or oils, it becomes neutralized.

Nettle Pesto

  • 2 cups of Nettle Leaf

  • Handful of Chickweed

  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil ( or however much it takes to get a nice pesto consistency)

  • 1/3 cup nuts ( I like to use walnut or cashew)

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • Squeeze of lemon

  • Salt & Pepper

Put all the ingredients in your blender and pulse to desired consistency. Put in a mason jar and enjoy the freshness of this potent nettle medicine.

I recommend making in big batches, its wonderful on eggs, toast, rice or pasta- really you can put it on everything.

Nettle Vinegar

  • Nettle leaves

  • Balsamic Vinegar

  • OPTIONAL: Assortment of spring time wild foods & medicines- cleaver, dandelion root, chickweed.. etc

I love making infused vinegars- they are easy to make and even easier to incorporate into your daily meals. In a glass jar, place your nettle leaves (and other assorted spring time medicines if you are utilizing) and cover completely with balsamic vinegar. Place in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight and shake ever few days. After 2-3 weeks, strain off vinegar and use throughout the summer in salads, marinades or as a garnish.

Easy Nettle Soup

  • 4 cups of Nettle and/or combination of wild greens

  • 1 can of coconut milk (plus 2 cups of water)

  • 1 cup or so of Leeks, asparagus or sweet potato

  • Seaweed Fronds

  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves

  • 1 tbs Grated Ginger

  • 1 tbs of Fish Sauce

  • Salt & Pepper

  • Infused garlic oil (optional)

Stew all the ingredients together on med-low heat until soft and tender- usually a couple of hours. Take an immersion blender to the concoction and blend until smooth and creamy.

Garnish with garlic oil and wild spring greens such as miners lettuce, violets or chickweed. Fresh toasted bread lathered in butter is a favorite side for this easy soup here at the farm.

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