Urtica dioica - Support That Won't Let Cha' Down!
The next herb that I have been working to form a deeper relationship with was Urtica dioica, stinging nettle. It is often referred to in Spring tonic talk but let me just go on and put this out there: I have yet to try using fresh nettles. Last year, I was not fortunate enough to find any in my foraging expeditions. Hopefully that will not be the case this year, but with snow in April, I haven't happened on any nettles yet. If you have some and are down to have me clip some tips or take a few plants off of your hands, I would be more than glad to! I have been using dried nettles and making an overnight infusion, the same manner in which I approached oatstraw. These overnight infusions are inspired by the herbalist Susun Weed. As I have mentioned before, she has done a number of videos and radio interviews on the benefits of overnight infusions.
For this experiment I backed off of drinking oat straw infusion so that I could gauge the effects of the nettle infusion. What I found from drinking a daily mug or two of nettle infusion is that it gives an energy boost! It is not, however, the same energy as oatstraw. Oatstraw gives you a gentle affirming energy like a comforting hand on your shoulder saying everything's gonna' be alright. Nettles kind of marches you out the front door while saying, "We got this! Let's do it! And then, what else can we do?" Even so, it's not a jolting kind of forceful, fake energy like overdosing on caffeine.
"[Nettle] is a green food that your body recognizes and can help build blood, tissue and self empowerment."From herbalist Michael Moore
Nettle gives very holistic energetic feeling, as if every cell in my body is nourished and primed to perform to its best ability. Nettle is a very supportive herb and it holds me together. Like a good bra. If nettles were a garment they would definitely be a good bra. I'm talking four snaps up the back with wide comfortable straps that make you stand tall in your clothing and look and feel amazing. If you've ever gone for a professional bra fitting, you can surely relate. If you haven't, you should! Guys, there is probably a equivalent that makes you feel just as wonderful but I won't venture to figure out what it is.
There have been times when I have gotten off of the daily nettle regimen. That is when I have had the opportunity to experience how quickly nettle can restore a feeling of well-being and the time frame in which it works for me. If I've had a week of over indulgences (meaning one too many days full of meetings, late nights, or maybe too many demands that leave me exhausted, unmotivated and achy all over), I know a day of self-care is in order. Part of my self-care routine definitely includes nettles infusion. If I take the time to sip on nettles throughout the day as I do other restorative activities such as journaling, vegging out on motivational videos, reading, and resting, I can eventually feel myself beginning to come back together with my energy restored, as well as my optimism. I am then prepared for yet another day although the goal is not to use it in such a Band-Aid way. Balance is important. It's vital to schedule downtime so that I don't run myself ragged and then have to call upon the herbals to save me. That is not the idea.
Underlying all of this self-care is the recognition that unhealthy habits and practices must be dealt with. Lifestyle is the foundation of optimal health and there is no amount of pills, capsules, teas or tinctures that will fix an unhealthy lifestyle. Keep that in mind when thinking about "getting healthy". To start, make note of the way your body reacts when you get tired, anxious, or stressed out. As well as, what are your default activities when bored? Those may be a starting place. It's all very personal.
Nettle is used for a wide variety of applications, internally and externally. I am only focusing on the restorative qualities in this post. I've been very intrigued with nettles since I learned about it as a nutritive herb. As a matter of fact, a number of herbalists refer to nettles as food. Indeed, fresh nettles have been used similarly to greens. Once they are steamed they lose their stinging properties. I've heard. Again I have not tried fresh nettles so I will not go into all the possibilities because I want to write from personal experience. I have used dried nettles in my food though. I had added them to home made soups in order to boost the nutrients. I haven't noticed that they affect the taste of the soup in any way. I have heard nettles described as a minerally taste. But I guess I just don't know what minerally tastes like because to me, nettles reminds me of a weak black tea with a slight vegetal taste to it...hmmmm...maybe that the minerally part?
I made a large jar of nettle vinegar which is quite simply, 1/4 nettles to 3/4 organic apple cider vinegar. Place wax paper or parchment paper between the lid and the vinegar. Label and let steep for a few weeks in a cool, dark place. This will be used for salad dressings. I found the below link on Pinterest and am really looking forward to trying the Mexican Marinade and the salad dressing they have featured.
The other tasty exploration I have undertaken is using nettle infusion for cooking rice or quinoa. I made a tasty nettle miso from nettle infusion, miso paste, sliced onion, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, and ginger. This sent me into a whole miso-fest! I mean, there are misos for all seasons! Anyway, I won't veer off onto miso, will save that for another day. I have a ways to go to perfect this recipe but it's very promising.
There are tons of resources out there, on and off line, that go into deep detail about the medicinal properties of the herb but I'll briefly go into them here so you can get all excited to go look further, and maybe even get some for yourself from the local health store or on-line.
Nettles - Urtica dioica is helpful for mood, energy, and sound sleep. the calcium, vitamin a and vitamin k in a quart of overnight nettle infusion is off the charts. It replenishes and nourishes the adrenal glands and every cell in the body. I feel optimistic, capable, and vitalized after adding nettles infusion to my weekly regimen.
Here is a link for more on nettles:
Jim McDonald - http://www.herbcraft.org/nettles%20oats%20and%20you.pdf(An awesome write up with oatstraw bonus content)
A note on preparation. Although I'm sure you can just brew nettle tea and drink it after it has steeped for about five or 10 minutes, I don't choose to take it that way. And if you decide to go the route of making nightly herb infusions in bulk you will want to invest in a fine mesh sieve, nothing too expensive or elaborate. Just something that you can catch all the little herby bits so that your cup isn't full of leaves. I also use a large 2 quart mason jar. You can use a 1 quart mason jar if you like. I put a cup of dried nettles in the 2 quart mason jar. I then make a tea-pot full of boiling water, pour it over the dried herbs, place a cap on it and let it sit on my counter overnight. I would use about half a cup in the 1 quart mason jar and follow the same procedure. In the morning when I'm ready to drink it I just pour it into my mug through the mesh sieve. This is not tea-ball area. Infusions require a considerable amount of herb. I order mine by the pound from Mountain Rose or get them in quantity from a few local shops. The good thing is that nettles are a relatively inexpensive herbs. I am still looking forward to finding fresh nettles this year and laying in a good (free) supply.
Thank you for reading and learning with me!