HERB OF THE WEEK: NETTLE!
By Angie "Oriana" Jenkins, B.A., Wolfville's Belly Dancing Herbalist
(or "stinging nettle" as it is also known) is popping out of the ground
& wants you to celebrate spring! Though its stings may be
intimidating to some, nettle is an amazing plant which can be used as a
food, medicine, cosmetic, & material fibre. When harvesting &
handling the plant, be sure to wear protective gloves. If you happen
to get stung regardless, look nearby for Yellow Dock leaves. Add
moisture to the Yellow Dock & place over the sting & you will
soon feel relief. Remember this old saying: "Nettle in, Dock out!"
a food, it makes an incredible steamed green resembling the flavour of
spinach. Once steamed, there is no longer a sting so don't fret! Try
it in soup, spanikopitas, or even lasagna. Susun Weed, in her book
Healing Wise, dedicates a whole chapter to nettle with an abundance of fun recipes to
try. This plant is a rich source of iron, calcium sulfur, B complex
vitamins, & other nutrients.
Medicinally, nettle leaf is a
specific for many female ailments. In menstruating women, it will curb
profuse blood flow while providing the lost iron. Pregnant women
benefit from the consumption of nettle as their need for calcium &
iron increases. Traditionally, the plant was administered by midwives
to women who were at risk of hemorrhage in the last trimester of
pregnancy. After babies are born, mothers can continue to include
nettle in the diet in order to improve the quantity & quality of
breast milk. By acting as a mild diuretic, it will also help her to
slough off excess pounds she may have gained during pregnancy. All
genders will notice this common beauty herb will have a beneficial
effect on the hair, skin, & nails when taken internally as tea,
capsules, or tincture or when used topically in the form of a hair
rinse, cream, or ointment. As allergy season begins to hit, remember
that this plant has an anti-histamine effect & is one step in
lessening common hayfever symptoms. Men are commonly prescribed nettle
root by herbalists for prostate issues.
One of my early
teachers taught me how to make nettle string. What a time-consuming
activity! During the world wars, when Germany was cut off from cotton
sources, uniforms were made from the fibers of this very durable
So, go get your gloves on! Eat, drink, & make string!