with Melinda Rodriguez

Posts tagged ‘Stinging nettle’

Glorious Sleep & Hormonal Harmony

How well do you sleep?  I hear so many people complain that they aren’t sleeping well, particularly women, especially women between 30 and 60.  What I come across commonly is that they can fall asleep, but have trouble staying asleep.  There are also those that have trouble getting the mind to shut down so they can nod off.  Does any of this sound familiar?

Unfortunately, I am no stranger to difficulties in sleeping.  However it has improved significantly in the last few years with only a few days out of a month that I might have trouble.  I have contemplated regularly what the right recipe is for good sleep.  Sometimes I think I have it, only to encounter one of those rare nights where I either can’t fall asleep or can’t stay asleep.  Then I heard an interview recently with my favorite herbal mentor, spilling the beans on what she believes to be the secret sauce for good sleep…Stinging Nettle!

Doh!  Are you slamming your palm against your forehead right now thinking “here we go again with the Stinging Nettle?”  Yes, I have written on this topic before.  And if you know me personally, you know I praise this weed like it is gold and have probably encouraged you to make some.  It is gold!  But I have new information that may not only lead you to better sleep, but what if I told you that Nettle, along with other nourishing herbs, are the simple, affordable pathway to hormonal harmony.  Friends, when I hear something that I know can empower and assist people, and they probably don’t even know about it, I want to sing it from the mountaintops!

I’m not going to repeat myself on the surplus of nourishing components to Stinging Nettle infusion.  You can read about that here https://pathwaysofwisdom.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/stinging-nettle-how-i-love-theeand-so-should-you/.  Instead, I want to share how this weed can lead you to the sleep you lust for along with its ability to support your body in proper hormone production, and throw in a few other golden nuggets of wisdom.

infusions2First let me say that I LOVE my nourishing infusions!  What is an infusion you ask?  It is NOT a tea!  I repeat, NOT A TEA!  Nettle tea, or any other herbal tea might be delightful to drink, but there is no nutritional, nourishing, or healing value (besides the enjoyment factor).  There is simply just not enough herb in a tea and it is not steeped long enough to extract all of the goodies that any particular herb contains.  An infusion is a large amount of nourishing herb “steeped” for an extended period of time, 4 to 10 hours, allowing the hot water to extract the gems our body requires.

It is also important to note that a not all herbs can be made into an infusion.  The term “nourishing” indicates the type of herb that is used.  There are four main categories for herbs – nourishing, tonifying, stimulating/sedating and potentially poisonous.  For further information, you can check out my blog post https://pathwaysofwisdom.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/the-wisdom-of-healing-allies/.  One must be mindful and respectful when working with the Earth’s healing jewels.  All but nourishing herbs should not necessarily be taken excessively or indefinitely.  Nourishing herbs however are essentially food and there is no known risk of overdose, nor unwanted side effects.  The above referenced blog post also explores herbs in food form such as infusions or tinctures vs. capsules or pills as well as the importance of working with them one at a time.

So how does Stinging Nettle help us sleep?  Well, it is an extraordinarily powerful adrenal ally.  When we wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep, it is often due to adrenal burn out, or what is commonly called adrenal fatigue.  Your adrenals are supremely important to the overall health of your entire body.  Yes, all organs are important and they are all connected, but the adrenals are not holding up well with modern, western societal demands.  Simply put, the adrenals manufacture certain vital hormones, such as cortisol, the stress hormone.  Too much stress over long periods of time leads to too much cortisol, which leads to sleep impediment (along with a slew of other symptoms).  Taxing the adrenals in that way with an over production of cortisol and other stress hormones exhausts the adrenal glands rendering them dysfunctional and therefore altering the appropriate balance of hormones in the body, including those that keep sex hormones stabilized.  The adrenals were just not designed for an overly stressed life style.

Now Nettle won’t dissolve your stress.  Only you can do that.  But you can certainly support your adrenals along your journey of lowering stress in your life and continue to nourish them for the unavoidable stressors that will always be present from time-to-time.  I love my Nettle infusion and have been drinking it for several years now, along with other nourishing infusions.  But I too encounter busyness or forgetfulness and miss it some days.  I have finally connected the dots and now notice that when I do miss it for more than a few days, my sleep is not as sound, even downright sucky if I’m gong through periods of high stress.  Putting this puzzle together has motivated me even more to keep on top of my nourishing infusions, which includes Nettle.  In fact, I rotate through the various nourishing herbs, but I drink Nettle daily; sometimes several glasses a day during extended activity demands or periods of high stress.

So by now I’m guessing you are also starting to recognize the connection between Nettle and hormonal harmony.  Over production or under production of sex hormones, as affected by the adrenals, also impede sleep along with causing a landslide of other unpleasant experiences.  Again, stress is an important factor in harmonized hormones, but we can also nourish and support our body, providing optimum nutrition that goes beyond food.  Food is important of course, but most of us don’t eat perfectly each and every day.  Nourishing infusions provide all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals our body needs without any need for further supplementation.  It is also affordable, doesn’t require fancy machinery, or gobs and gobs of organic produce.

But Nettle certainly isn’t the only nourishing herb that is helpful to hormonal harmony.  Here is an excerpt from Susun Weed (my favorite herbal mentor) in an article she wrote on how minerals make the difference:

“By 2015 half of the female population of the United States will be post-menopausal. But this group of post-menopausal women won’t be old fuddy-duddies with broken hips, heart attacks, and failing memories. Women of today expect to emerge from menopause energetic, zesty, and passionate! Are hormones necessary? No! Wise women nourish their hearts, bones, and spirits with simple, safe mineral-rich herbs.

Herbs, especially the weedy ones, are minerals powerhouses. Getting those minerals isn’t as easy as taking a tincture (alcohol extracts little to no minerals) or swallowing a pill (minerals are poorly utilized from encapsulated herbs) but it isn’t difficult either. At the Wise Woman Center we include mineral-rich herbs in our daily diet; it’s easy, tasty, and very rewarding. How do we do it?  Drink 1-2 cups nourishing herbal infusion each day.

Herbal infusions differ from herbal teas: They are darker in color and richer tasting because their long brewing extracts many more nutrients — especially minerals. My favorite nourishing herbal infusions for menopausal women are oatstraw, red clover blossoms, stinging nettle leaves, and comfrey leaves.

To prepare your infusion: Put a quart of cold water up to boil. Weigh one ounce of dried (not fresh!) herb into a quart canning jar. Go brush your teeth and count your grey hairs until the teapot whistles. Pour the boiling water into the jar with your herb (only one herb at a time, please!), screw on a tight lid, turn off the light, and go to bed. Next morning strain out the herb and drink the liquid: cold, hot, or at room temperature. Add honey, tamari, or milk if desired.

Oatstraw (Avena sativa) has a mellow taste. It eases frazzled nerves, lowers cholesterol, improves circulation, strengthens bones, eases headaches, relieves depression and encourages us to be sexy old ladies!

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) infusion not only builds bones, and prevents cancer, it reduces serum cholesterol (protecting heart health) and helps maintain strong pelvic tissues –thus preventing incontinence, lowered libido, atrophic vaginitis, and uterine prolapse. Red clover contains ten times more phytoestrogens than soy, without soy’s bone-damaging, thyroid-impairing side-effects.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) infusion contains more than 500 milligrams of calcium per cup. (Nettle tea has none, neither does the tincture.) Nettle strengthens adrenal functioning, promotes sound sleep, increases overall energy, prevents allergic reactions, strengthens the blood vessels, and prevents hair loss.

Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum x) is controversial. Ingestion of its roots can cause severe liver congestion. The leaves are safe, though labeled otherwise. Comfrey leaf infusion helps maintain good vaginal lubrication, strengthens the bones, protects against cancer, soothes painful joints, and improves mental functioning.”

I have not tried comfrey or oatstraw yet, but have an order on the way.  I’ll let you know.  I love the taste of red clover.  Red raspberry, which is not mentioned above is also a great nourishing herb for infusion, and I drink that regularly.  It has a strong taste, but a little peppermint mixed in helps, which does not interfere with the medicinal qualities of the herb.  I use ample peppermint with my Nettle, and I will admit it was an acquired taste.  It has such high chlorophyll content that it tastes a little like a fish tank at first.  But within a day or two of first trying it, you’ll notice level energy throughout the day and excellent sleep at night, which is what we all want isn’t it?

So cheers <clink> to you!  May you be blessed with hormonal harmony and a beautiful night’s sleep.  And please do leave a comment and let me know your experiences with nourishing herbs.

Harmonious Blessings,

Melinda

The Wisdom of Herbal Allies

There are many reasons people turn to herbs for wellness support.  Some simply prefer a more natural approach to what they put in their body, while others are being told by their doctors that they need medication (all of which have horrible side effects) for certain health conditions and want to see if they can make herbs work first.

The herbal industry is a powerful one indeed and growing exponentially.  Americans are spending tens of billions of dollars on natural supplements each year.  The Journal of the American Medical Association (J.A.M.A.) released an issued devoted entirely to the studies of herbs and alternative remedies.  Among the fascinating findings was that Americans today make more visits to nontraditional practitioners, many of which claim expertise in herbs along with other natural therapies.  And they spend almost as much out of pocket on alternative medicine (most of which are expensive pills).  I’m going to assume these alternative practitioners are prescribing herbal remedies with good intentions, but where does their knowledge of herbs come from?  Their text books?  Industry influence?  Or from true herbal experts that have actually formed a relationship with each herb and their connection to humans?

I have a question for you…which provides you more nutritional value – a packaged processed food or a whole food?  Duh!  You know the correct answer.  So, which do you think provides more healing constituents – a processed plant that is powdered and plunked into a capsule OR a whole herb prepared with love and respect by YOU?  Moreover, do you think it would be wise to combine Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft in one massive dosage?  More is better right?  I’m guessing you would not consider this.  Yet, many of the herbal remedies sold to us by practitioners and health food stores contain multiple herbs in one pill.  With my knowledge, in my opinion, we are being sold to by a greedy industry with marketing ploys that play upon the American notion of more, more, more!  And, many of the herbs being packaged can actually have side effects.

So, let’s get some clarity here.  The following are guidelines set forth by Susan Weed.  First, it is wise to know that herbs fall into four basic categories:  Nourishing, Tonifying, Stimulating and Potentially Poisonous.  Second, you need to make sure you have the right herb and that it is grown and harvested properly. If you are gong to grow them yourself, I highly recommend you study with an expert such as Susan Weed.  Or, if you prefer to purchase, make sure you have a reputable source such as Mountain Rose Herbs.

Working with “simples” (one herb at a time) is the best way to work with herbs.  It ensures optimal safety and allows you to understand how each herb works with your body.  My only exception is peppermint.  I often add peppermint to my infusions to enhance flavor.  According to Susan Weed, “The more herbs there are in a formula, the more likelihood there is of unwanted side-effects. Understandably, the public seeks combinations, hoping to get more for less. And many mistakenly believe that herbs must be used together to be effective (probably because potentially poisonous herbs are often combined with protective herbs to mitigate the damage they cause). But combining herbs with the same properties, such as goldenseal and echinacea, is counter-productive and more likely to cause trouble than a simple. A simple tincture of echinacea is more effective than any combination and much safer.”

”Different people have different reactions to substances, whether drugs, foods, or herbs” cautions Susan.  “When herbs are mixed together in a formula and someone taking it has distressing side effects, there is no way to determine which herb is the cause. With simples, it’s easy to tell which herb is doing what. If there’s an adverse reaction, other herbs with similar properties can be tried. Limiting the number of herbs used in any one day (to no more than four) offers added protection.”

So let’s break down the different categories of herbs, and what common ones fit into what category.  We will start with Nourishing herbs as they are the safest of all herbs and side effects are rare.  They are often used as foods and can be taken every day for any length of time.  According to Ms. Weed, nourishing herbs provide high levels of proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, carotenes, and essential fatty acids.

 Nourishing herbs work best as food or in infusions like my favorite, Stinging Nettle infusion. 

Tonifying herbs have a cumulative effect on the body and are slow acting.  Side effects can occur but are typically short-term.  Tonifying herbs are best used in small quantities for extended periods of time, but not indefinitely like the nourishing herbs.  The bitterness of an herb is an indication of its strength and demands respect.  Therefore, the more bitter a tonic, the less you need.  Mother Nature is so clever.  Likewise, bland tonics can be used more freely. 

Tonifying herbs build the strength in specific areas of the body like an organ or the immune system.  Examples of tonifying herbs are: barberry bark, burdock root/seeds, chaste tree, crone(mug)wort, dandelion root, echinacea, elecampane, fennel, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, ground ivy, hawthorn berries, horsetail, lady’s mantle, lemon balm, milk thistle seeds, motherwort, mullein, pau d’arco, raspberry leaves, schisandra berries, St. Joan’s wort, turmeric root, usnea, wild yam, and yellow dock.  Tonifying herbs often work best in tincture form.  You can add a few drops in water or take straight, depending on the taste. 

The next category of herb is Sedating and Stimulating herbs which can cause a variety of swift reactions, some of which may be unwanted as some parts of the body might “stress” in order to help other parts.  I once took an entire dropper full of valerian root.  I misread the directions, which stated only a few drops – YIKES!  Yes I slept incredibly well but was in a daze until noon the next day.  These are herbs to be respected and well understood.

Here is what Susan Weed has to say about these powerful allies; “Strong sedatives and stimulants, whether herbs or drugs, push us outside our normal ranges of activity and may cause strong side effects. If we rely on them and then try to function without them, we wind up more agitated (or depressed) than before we began. Habitual use of strong sedatives and stimulants-whether opium, rhubarb root, cayenne, or coffee-leads to loss of tone, impairment of functioning, and even physical dependency. The stronger the herb, the more moderate the dose needs to be, and the shorter the duration of its use.”

Herbs that tonify and nourish while sedating/stimulating are much easier on the body and can be used more freely, as they do not cause dependency. Sedating/stimulating herbs that also tonify or nourish are boneset, catnip, citrus peel, cleavers, ginger, hops, lavender, marjoram, motherwort, oatstraw, passion flower, peppermint, rosemary, sage, skullcap.

Strongly sedating/stimulating herbs include: angelica, black pepper, blessed thistle root, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, coffee, licorice, opium poppy, osha root, shepherd’s purse, sweet woodruff, turkey rhubarb root, uva ursu leaves, valerian root, wild lettuce sap, willow bark, and wintergreen leaves.

Lastly I want to give a brief mention to some potentially poisonous herbs.  Some may surprise you.  Again, we must remember that each herb is going to have a different relationship with each individual.  I seriously recommend extreme wisdom when venturing into the realm of potentially poisonous herbs.  It would probably be best to work with an extremely wise and experienced herbalist before using.  Susan Weed happens to have a wonderful website with lots of resources along with a chat forum that her students frequent to answer questions. 

Potential poisonous herbs are strong, potent medicines that are taken in small amounts and only for as long as needed.  Side effects are common.  Examples of potentially poisonous herbs are: belladonna, blood-root, celandine, chaparral, foxglove, goldenseal, henbane, iris root, Jimson weed, lobelia, May apple (American mandrake), mistletoe, poke root, poison hemlock, stillingia root, turkey corn root, wild cucumber root. 

I have personally worked with several herbs discussed in the various categories, and always one at a time.  My favorite nourishing herb is Stinging Nettle.  I’ve also worked with Raspberry leaves, Red Clover blossoms, Peppermint, Chaste Tree Berry, Shepard’s Purse, Dandelion, and Valerian Root.  In fact they are all a part of my herbal pantry.  The results have been incredible, but it is also combined with the right diet for me along with daily exercise, limited toxin exposure and fostering a positive mind set.  Herbs are not magic bullets and don’t work in and of themselves necessarily, they are allies upon our wellness path.

It was a health crisis that caused me to turn to herbal wisdom.  I do not have health insurance, could not afford conventional medicine at the time, and even if I could, I don’t think I would have taken that route.  The physical healing following my pregnancy loss was intense.  I bled for a month straight and became horrifically anemic, weak and depleted.  The Shepard’s purse finally got the bleeding to stop.  The Nettle nourished me with iron and all the vitamins my body needed.  The Red Raspberry leaf helped to heal and tone my uterus back to normal.  My hormones were out of whack prior to getting pregnant, and they needed further balancing afterwards.  The Chaste Tree Berry helped with that and I took it for a full year.  The Red Clover blossoms are absolutely delicious and have a phytoestrogenic effect which helped bring further balance, but I only drank the infusion for a very brief time.  Dandelion is a great liver ally.  The liver is responsible for breaking down and processing all excess hormones for elimination, so supporting it is important.  But that too only needed a short time.  I use Valerian root on the rare occasion that I cannot sleep.  That was a far more common occurrence when my hormones where out of whack, but now that they are in harmony, sleep is not usually an issue.  And of course, I add peppermint to all my infusions because it tastes good.  I’ve also smoked it on occasion as it is a great healing ally for the lungs…and no it doesn’t get you high.

With all this incredible wisdom I know you are empowered and supported to work with herbs as nature intended.  And here is the best news of all…when we simply buy the whole herb in bulk to make infusions, or even as a tincture, it is so affordable.  You could even grow and harvest your own favorite allies.  As Susan Weed says “Herbal medicine is people’s medicine. Herbal medicine is the primary medicine of most people on this planet, right now. It’s not something old and dusty. It’s not a bunch of doctors and chemists figuring out how to use herbs like drugs. Herbal medicine is a 3-year-old picking plantain and putting it on a skinned knee or an insect bite. Herbal medicine is the medicine of women and children. It is the medicine of the earth. It’s medicine that’s free. It’s not something that must be studied before it can help you. Start with one plant. Approach herbal medicine directly, hands on, in the back yard with your children.”

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

The Wisdom of Living Well

There is a wonderful story told by Dr. Lissa Rankin about Stamatis Moriatis; a man living in the US in is mid 60’s diagnosed with cancer and given 9 months to live.  Instead of seeking aggressive medical treatment, he decided to return to his native Ikaria, a Greek island near the Aagean Sea.  With the life he had left, he decided to live richly.  He and his wife moved into a small house on a vineyard, he reconnected to his spiritual roots, planted a garden, basked in sunshine and reconnected with old friends daily over a bottle or two of wine.

Six months had passed and not only was he still alive, he was actually feeling better than ever.  He found purpose in his daily life and enjoyed his evenings with community.  Three and a half decades later, Moraitis is 97 years old, still living in Ikaria, never undergoing any cancer treatment.  At one point, 25 years after his diagnosis, he decided to go back to the US to ask the doctors what had happened.  The doctors were all dead!

135d9ef2a5953403cc96191a708d51d2I retell this story because I find an immensely important teaching for those of us living a fast-paced, stressed out, hectic Western life style.  In a land where conventional medical care is actually making us sicker than our insane lifestyles, it is time we come home to the truth of how to heal, reclaim our wholeness and bask in a state of wellness.  It is a process of unlearning societal programming and investing ourselves in the vital wisdom within that is thirsting to emerge.

Adrenal fatigue is plaguing a large percentage of Westerners today.  Some are aware of it, some are not.  What is most alarming is that we don’t seem to understand the depth of our endocrine system and the massively important role our adrenals play in our total wellness.  If the adrenals are taxed, the whole body goes out of whack.  Our hormones become unbalanced, our thyroid shuts down or goes berserk, inflammation sets in, and if left unattended, it all WILL lead to serious disease that can create a sickly life and even an early death.  It’s time to stop the madness!

You and only you are the master of your Destiny.  It is never too late to begin to make the changes that will lead you to the life you deserve; the life you were born to live.  But I have good news – this does not have to be a difficult process.  And I’m here to guide you.  I shall share some lovely pleasurable tips here, and should you desire further mentoring, you know where to find me.

First and foremost, I’m going to once again harp on the single most powerful herb on the planet!  You’ve heard me talk about it time and time again.  It is affordable, and may very well be growing in your own backyard.  Stinging Nettle!  This powerful little ally knows exactly how to nourish your adrenals, kidneys, bones and the entire body.  Stop popping umpteen vitamins and supplements each day and simply drink them via a tall glass of Nettle infusion.  A glass of Nettle infusion has all the vitamins and minerals you need for the day, and they are in their natural, effective, complex forms; not synthetic and broken up like they are in pill or capsule form.  Nettle infusion has calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, chromium, selenium, trace minerals, chlorophyll, manganese, silica, boron, zinc and iodine.  It is also a great source of vitamins A, C, E, K, B complex vitamins and beta carotene.

Stinging Nettle is the most powerful ally for adrenal fatigue, along with a whole-foods diet and a balanced rest/movement ratio.  These three components alone will empower you revive your adrenals and process the stress that comes your way.  The next step is to deeply evaluate your life style.  If there is too much stress, where and how can you begin to eliminate it?  The goal is not so much to deal with stress more effectively, but to eliminate the excess.  You can’t sugar coat a pile of shit and expect it to taste like ice cream.

Some components of stress may not be eliminated, so you have to look at what you can realistically (not necessarily easily) reduce.  If your job is more stress than joy, it is time to think outside the box and find other work.  If there are people in your life that suck the life out of you, it is time to contemplate letting go of them.  If it is a family member that can not be let go of, look at possibly less time spent with them and treating yourself to pleasure following exposure.  If your home environment is toxic – mentally, physically, emotionally and/or spiritually – clean it up!  If you need help with any of this, seek it.  Remember, you ARE power.

Setting up certain rituals in your daily life that bring you pleasure and peace are a step in the right direction.  Morning meditation and/or exercise are fabulous rituals.  Mid-day deep breathing, singing, dancing or nature brakes are delightful ways of flinging off stress.  Evening relaxation rituals are my favorites indeed.  I love to go out into my garden with a glass (or two) of wine and enjoy the flowers, the breeze, the birds and my doggies.  Even when I travel I make time to unwind, even if it means an hour less of sleep.  Studies now show that enjoying an evening cocktail actually enhances wellness.  A recent study showed that middle-aged women who averaged 3 – 15 alcoholic drinks per week (spread out over every day of the week vs. binge drinking) had up to 28% higher odds of being free from chronic illness, physical disability, mental health problems and cognitive decline.  Experiments from this same study even showed moderate alcohol intake can reduce inflammation!  Whoa!!!  Here is a link to the article http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/06/health/women-drinking-daily-health

ae924b653bad7e5397b5499ccf79afb1Now, I’m not advocating getting schnockered.  I truly believe that it is the relaxation ritual of that evening cocktail that holds the key to the health benefits.  It divides the day and sets the intent that whatever has happened is now in the past.  The potential of the rest of the night is infinite and full of possibility.  Additionally, if you are not a drinker, starting now just to get the benefits described here is probably not a good idea.  Find another additive for your evening ritual…perhaps a glass of Nettle!  But if you do enjoy a drink in the evening, this is great news and reason to let go of any guilt.  Many cultures outside of the US with phenomenal longevity stats indulge in such pleasurable activities (with responsible moderation).  Could Mr. Moriatis’s spontaneous healing be in part due to his evening wine drinking with friends?

The truth is however, drinking wine, Nettle or anything else in and of itself does not hold the secrets to wellness and longevity.  It is taking control of your life and making it one that is nurturing and nourishing that lead to joy and health.  That may mean you need to unapologetically step out of societal expectations, make some decisions and changes that are initially uncomfortable, but ultimately bring you happiness.  At the end of life, I guarantee you will not look back and be pleased with how hard you worked.  You will find peace with how well you lived, how hard you played, how lovingly you took care of your body and how unabashedly you loved.

I’d love to hear from you.  Your questions, comments and life experiences are welcomed and encouraged.

In Rhythm & Harmony,

Melinda

Stinging Nettle – how I love thee…and so should you!

As any nature-loving gal can share, if you hike on a warm day in shorts, watch for Stinging Nettle!  If you rub against it, it can feel like you swiped your shin on a barbed wire fence, without leaving a trace of blood.  It doesn’t last long, but those few moments you wont’ soon forget.  Nor should you forget for it is Mother Earth’s way of getting your attention and saying “Hello lovey!  I’ve got this amazing defense mechanism that likewise creates amazing defense against a plethora of ailments of the body and mind.  Did I get your attention with that sting?  Good!  Now respectfully harvest this blessed herb, or do the urban harvest and order online and brew it up my beloved!”

ImageWomen (and men) have an innate connection to the earth.  If we tune in to that connection, we will find that she offers a wealth of medicine for our personal needs.  My reference to medicine here does not refer to a pill or other pharmaceutical.  Rather, it encompasses an essence that brings personal power, understanding and healing to the body, mind and spirit.  This kind of medicine is often associated with a specific trait connected to an animal, insect, plant, or human.  That medicine has a way of showing up in your life in a variety of ways.  That fact that you are reading this indicates you are magnetizing to the medicine of Nettle.

Several years ago I experienced my own magnetization to Nettle.  I kept seeing brief references to it here and there over and over again.  My wisdom was actually hounding me about it.  I even discovered it was growing wild in my own backyard.  I did a little research on the herb and became quite intrigued.  Not intrigued enough to harvest it myself from my back yard, but enough to embark upon an urban harvest of ordering online.  Hey, you gotta start somewhere!  Someday I’ll dive into the next phase of herbal exploration and actually pick it and build a further relationship with what has become a most powerful ally for me.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of the most potent healing and nourishing herbs I have experienced. I began making infusions (which I will explain how to make below) and drinking several glasses daily.  The first thing I noticed was my energy level went through the roof!  I was amazed that I did not need to rely on adrenal taxing caffeine to provide me the vigor I needed to get though my day, but rather this exhilarating elixir supplied me with all the vitality I desired – without impeding sleep!  Then came all of the other more subtle, yet immensely powerful effects of this supremely powerful herb.

Susan Weed, one of the greatest and wisest herbalist and teacher on the subject, says “stinging nettles nourish and support the entire body, particularly the endocrine, immune, urinary, respiratory, and circulatory systems. Nettle root is also a kidney ally and lymphatic/immune strengthener.”  Well of course, Nettle is chock full of necessary nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron, B complex vitamins, C complex, vitamins A, D and K. She has protein, cobalt, trace minerals, potassium, zinc, copper and sulphur and is especially rich in chlorophyll.

Corinna Wood, another noted herbalist says “Nettle has long been revered for its benefits to the kidneys and adrenals. The kidneys allow us to expel toxins and the adrenals help us to respond to stress (think adrenaline), so given the challenges of modern life, most folks can benefit profoundly from nettle’s medicinal properties. Additionally, she offers relief from seasonal allergies, strengthens the bones, hair and nails and nurtures the lungs, nervous, hormonal and immune systems – that covers a lot of ground.”

That does cover a lot of ground!  And no wonder Nettle can do all of that, According to Susan Weed a quart of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins.  There is no denser nutrition found in any plant, not even blue green algae; and nettle is much more reasonably priced than any supplement, especially if you buy more than an ounce at a time. My favorite resource is mountainroseherbs.com.  In fact, I have purchased Nettle from a local merchant and for whatever reason, even though the Nettle came from the same place as does the stuff you get at Mountain Rose Herbs, it just didn’t have the same impact on me.  Maybe it was in my mind, I don’t know, but that is certainly one of my authorities so I’m sticking with Mountain Rose until I harvest myself.

One of Susan Weed’s students reports “After drinking a quart of nettle infusion daily for only four days, I now have more energy then my toddler! Now, when he goes to sleep, I get some time to myself, instead of falling asleep with him. I can’t thank you enough for the gift of nettle.”  Nettle builds energy from the inside out by nourishing the adrenals. Nettle smoothly and persistently carries optimum nourishment to every cell in the body. Weed reports “Because the minerals in nettle infusion are polarized to the blood, they are literally magnetized into the blood stream without needing to be digested. Drinking a glass of cold nettle infusion pumps so much nourishment into the blood; you’ll feel invigorated in just a few days.”

Susan also says that regular use of stinging nettle (2-3 quarts a week) not only increases energy, it brings a shine and swing to the hair, strengthens fingernails, clears and firms skin, restores elasticity to blood vessels, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, counters incontinence, improves digestion, reduces cancer risk, and strengthens the lungs.

One woman reports “My doctor is astonished. He insisted that I had to take drugs to deal with my severe osteoporosis. Instead, I drank two quarts of nettle infusion a week for several years.  According to my latest bone scan, I now—at the age of 67—have the bone mass of a woman half my age. Ha, ha, ha! With nettle, I get the last laugh on modern medicine.”

But wait, as if you haven’t heard enough about how awesome Nettle is, if you are trying to conceive, are pregnant or nursing, check this out:  Many midwives consider Nettles a primary fertility promoter and one of the richest plant sources of folic acid, which is vital for fetal health. The vitamin K helps prevent hemorrhage and the protein, vitamins and minerals in nettle enriches breast milk.

What is important to understand is that we must consume lots of nettle to get this kind of mighty nutrition.  A simple tea, capsule or tincture just won’t cut it!  An infusion is required.  I infuse a full ounce of dried nettle to a quart of water to make my brew.  Infusing nettle maximizes its energy-enhancing effects as well.  Taking the time to make a real infusion is NOT difficult or even time consuming and if you consider the benefits, any time invested is an investment in yourself which in my opinion is an account we should all be making huge deposits into!

To make a nettle infusion: Measure out one ounce of the dried herb into a quart jar (I like mason jars). Boil a quart of water and pour into the quart jar and fill to the top with the boiling water. Stir, then put the lid on tightly and set aside to brew for at least four hours, or overnight. Once brewed, strain and squeeze the liquid out of the herb. Be sure to refrigerate your infusion, as it will go bad at room temperature once it is done brewing. If that happens however, you can use it as plant food!

I also like to add two large pinches of mint to the nettle for taste.  I must admit, the first time I made it, it smelled like a fish tank.  But it tasted better thankfully.  I don’t sweeten it, but many people do.  Some mix it with a little apple juice to enhance the taste.  Experiment with what works for you.

Some tips on making an infusion – put a stainless steel knife into the jar with the herb BEFORE you pour in the hot water and don’t take it out until you have poured all the water into the jar (watch your fingers, it will be HOT).  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had jars break on me from the heat – and oh what a mess!  Granted, those were not mason jars, but I don’t risk it anymore.  The knife acts as a conductor for the heat.  Thank you Dad for showing me that trick!  Also, again as extra caution, put the jar in the sink as you pour the hot water into it.  This way, if for whatever reason the jar does break, the mess is in the sink instead of all over your floor.  Lastly, I prefer to infuse over night.  You can make the infusion as your making dinner then let it infuse over night, or do it as you do your other nightly kitchen rituals.  And that’s just what making an infusion is to me – a ritual.  My kitchen is a healing space and on the counter is a small alter (items of sacredness to me) that represent the healing that goes on there through preparations…like infusion making!

If you haven’t already, are you ready to take a stab at making an infusion?  Let me know if you have questions.  I’m here to help!

Harmonious Blessings,

Melinda Beth

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