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Nettle ~ Many Uses, Many Benefits ~ 1/06/08

Nettle provides one of the richest sources of chlorophyll and is a valuable blood builder. It is one of the most powerful iron sources in the vegetable kingdom. Therefore, it is a valuable aid for anemia, during menstruation to build up iron, for fatigue or whenever you feel run down or tired & think of nettles. As nettle is high in iodine it is beneficial for the thyroid gland.

Leaves are a source of histamine, which helps to reduce the symptoms in any allergic response, including hay fever, asthma and sinus. Also, serotonin, which acts as a neuro-transmitter to the central nervous system and is helpful for relieving stress, fear, nervousness, depression, insomnia, and eating disorders; and melatonin, an antioxidant sometimes referred to as an anti-ageing hormone , that may give relief from chronic fatigue syndrome, seasonal effect disorder, depression and sleeplessness.

Drink nettle as a tea to stimulate the digestive system and encourage weight-loss, to stop haemorrhaging (including excess menstruation); to treat ulcers, kidney, bladder and liver ailments; and to promote milk flow for nursing mothers. Nettle is valuable for strengthening the adrenals. Eating nettles or drinking the tea has been a folk custom to make hair brighter, thicker and shinier and the skin clearer and healthier. A healing ointment is prepared by steeping cut nettle leaves in oil.

Use nettle tea for its metal chelating action to remove heavy metals and to detox the body. Sip nettle tea for its benefits as a mild diuretic to relieve fluid retention, and to stimulate the lymphatic system. It is also known to eliminate bad breath. Nettles increase excretion of uric acid through the kidneys, making them an excellent remedy for gout and all other arthritic conditions. The herb is used to reduce blood sugar, and a tincture of the seed is found to raise thyroid function and reduce goiter.

Use nettle and get the nutrient-rich benefits: protein 21%, polysaccharides, vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E and K; and minerals, iron (41.8mg per 100 g), calcium (2,900mg), magnesium (860mg), potassium (1,750mg); chromium, iodine, silica, silicon, selenium and sulphur.

Greater nettle Urtica dioica is a hardy perennial 100cm high, with spreading root system; Lesser nettle U. urens, is an annual to 100cm with smaller leaves than Greater nettle; Native scrub nettle U. incisa, is a perennial, grows to 100cm similar in growth to Greater nettle. All 3 species have serrated leaves and leaves and stems are covered in fine hairs. If the plants are touched, these fine hairs can sting the skin, causing pain, redness and itching.

However, the sting that gives the nettle it s nasty reputation has been used for centuries as an effective remedy for pain relief, and it is not just an old wives tale! Early man would have discovered this use by accident, as he bumped into the plant and experience the pain it inflicted. Then, he would have learnt, very quickly, how the body was stimulated by blood moving rapidly to the area and the sting gave warmth and pain relief. From this discovery, we have the folklore of taking some fresh nettle stems and beating parts of the body affected by arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica, paralysis, gout and lumbago. This method of pain relief is still practiced in countries where natural remedies are the major source of therapies.

Another folklore custom from Europe was to brush nettle stems over the skin, so that the stings would warm the limbs in the freezing conditions of winter. And if that really does not appeal to you, try a warm nettle infusion in a footbath, to relieve cold feet.

It is best to wear gloves when picking nettles, or place hands in plastic bags to give protection when grasping cut stems. If I get stung, when picking nettle, I just tell myself it is good for me. Nettle leaves are not very agreeable to the tongue and throat if eaten raw. But nettle may be eaten raw, when blended, and the stinging action does dissipate when leaves are cooked or dried.) Use nettle leaves steamed, in soups, and other cooked dishes. Leaves dried, crushed and stored provide a valuable survival food. The way I like to use nettle is as a nettle smoothie: a handful of nettle leaves in a blender with pineapple or orange juice.

Isabell Shipard

 
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