There are times where we search high and low for medicine or cures to aid our healing process and overcome certain ailments and health issues that live with us. Sometimes we find those cures in the form of pharmaceutical remedies, sometimes in the form of medical technologies, sometimes in the form of certain healing therapies and other times, we need not look far at all. We simply need to look around us at our natural environment to discover that we live with abundant healing remedies, which are, quite often, overlooked.
We were, just recently, living for a short period of time off grid in the Peruvian high forest and after some severe reaction to insect bites, we were encouraged by the natives to become accustomed to adopting certain plants and herbs to carry in our medicine tool bag.
One of the most valuable herbs we can develop a relationship with is the stinging nettle. It’s an interesting and sad fact that the nettle is often seen as harmful and thus avoided, when in fact it sits there ready to dispense its healing properties to its co habitants on this earth. Perhaps a surprise to some, but the nettle is so rich in nutrients that it’s fury, stinging exterior exists as a defense. But in fact it’s edible and very much curative.
The benefits of the nettle as a healing herb are endless, but some of its greatest uses will help alleviate symptoms of congestion, joint and muscle problems such as paralysis, weak muscles and arthritis, allergies and asthma, weak circulation, hair loss, kidney problems, skin complaints such as burns or eczema, urinary tract infections, PMS, parasites, metabolic and weight loss problems and many more of our regular health complications.
This powerful herb is seen as a diuretic, tonic, anodyne, pectoral, rubefacient, styptic, anthelmintic, anti-rheumatic, anti-allergenic, anti-lithic and is rich in iron, vitamin C and vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, potassium and fibre. Basically it’s a super herb!
While tirelessly suffering with aggressive insect bites in the Andes, we lived true to our natural environment and resorted to both drinking substantial amounts of nettle tea everyday as well as gently tapping fresh stinging nettle on our bites to encourage blood flow to the surface. Aside from building a stronger immunity against the bugs, developing a natural antihistamine, better excretion of toxic waste caused from the bites, we also noticed an increase in mood and energy levels due to it’s nutritional value. A much needed boost given the discomfort faced. After all, surviving the jungle is not easy for a mere European.
Should you wish to prepare some nettle tea we recommend you first boil your water and later take it off the heat before adding your nettles and letting them stand in the water over night. You will be left with a strong, green, delicious and nutritious tea. For more appeal you could also add some of your preferred flavours like honey or cinnamon. Additionally, the nettles have a rich and nutty spinach like flavour and work amazingly well boiled or steamed to eat alone or to add to a hearty soup or quiche.
Of course where permaculture is concerned, we should value and make use of all resources made available to us and produce no waste. For this reason we highly recommend that you re-use any left over tea nettle for compost. As a natural activator the nettles will actually continue to provide its support and help in speeding up the decomposition process.
Before you set off to harvest your bundles of nettle, we must as usual warn against any potential side effects of consuming nettles. For those who are pregnant or breast feeding, those with diabetes, low blood pressure or kidney problems, please consult your doctor before consumption. Nettles can stimulate uterine contractions, lower blood sugar and blood pressure. So please use them with caution.
For now, enjoy this gift from what the Andeans call pachamama (Mother Earth).
Have a wonderful day!
Your La Pedrera team