Stinging Nettles: a woman’s weed
With its high content of iron and calcium, stinging nettles offers herself as a valuable herb for all stages of a woman’s life.
Stinging Nettles!? You mean the stuff that caused me so much pain when I fell in it as a kid? You mean the weed that Dad made sure was pulled out from our area of the creek because he was tired of tending to screaming children that had been stung by it?
Yes, that plant. The sting is rendered inactive once it is exposed to hot water or steam. Once the sting is removed, we can enjoy the many medicinal wonders of this powerful plant ally.
The iron and blood rebuilding qualities of nettles make this herb a valuable remedy for many women’s health care issues. When a woman looses lots of blood during heavy menses, abortion, or childbirth, nettles comes to our aid to nourish our blood and more quickly restore balance. Its blood building abilities also make it a very useful remedy for anemia.
Much of nettles’ fame for blood building comes from its high chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll is literally the blood of the plant and has a very similar structure to human red blood cells. When we have access to lots of chlorophyll we make higher quality red blood cells. During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume can increase by one half, so having access to high quantities of chlorophyll can help her to have a healthier pregnancy by building healthier blood. Nettles make a wonderful tonic that can be taken throughout pregnancy and it is known that drinking Nettles in the last trimester of pregnancy helps reduce the possibility of hemorrhaging. Nettles are also famous for their ability to increase the richness and quality of breast milk.
For the menopausal woman, nettles offer us a rich supply of calcium. Many calcium supplements are difficult to absorb and many menopausal women are concerned about relying heavily on dairy products for their calcium intake. Not only are nettles high in calcium but it is easily absorbed as well!
An active, creative woman at any stage in her life needs plenty of good vitamins and minerals. There are many studies out now that link degenerative diseases with lack of minerals in our diets. The quality and quantity of vitamins and minerals in our foods is continually eroding. Due to poor farming practices and the use of pesticides and herbicides, the soil that our food grows in continues to be depleted of valuable nutrients and trace minerals. Have you noticed that most of the time tomatoes in the stores taste more like cardboard than anything else? Minerals are what give vegetables a rich, sweet taste. It is easy to tell the difference between the taste of a mineral-rich, home grown tomato and a pesticide grown tomato that is lacking in minerals.
To ensure that you are getting good sources of vitamins and minerals in your diet you can grow your own vegetables or buy organic vegetables from organic farms that take better care of their soil and do not use pesticides. Another great dietary source of vitamins and minerals is stinging nettles! The rich minerals in nettles are easy to absorb and are much better for you than vitamin pills! Nettles are high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, trace minerals, Chlorophyll, and B vitamins. I use nettles regularly in my diet as a major source of easy-to-absorb vitamins and minerals.
One of the best ways to take nettles is to make it into a water infusion or strong tea. Add four tablespoons of dried nettles to four cups of water. Bring to a boil and let it sit covered for four hours. You can pour your infusion in a glass mason jar while it is steeping and carry it with you. Drink at room temperature throughout the day or re-heat your infusion as desired. Water infusions need to be prepared daily as they go rancid without anything to preserve them. Nettles are a nourishing tonic that can be taken in this infusion form daily for as long as you like. One way to introduce nettles into your diet could be to drink one cup a day for six weeks, then one cup three times a week for another six weeks.
Drinking nettles can also help reduce spring allergies and improve digestion and elimination. The B vitamins in nettles help with stress and depression and the trace minerals are known to help increase stamina and energy. Enrich your life by bringing this powerful herbal ally into your life.
Kami McBride is the author of The Herbal Kitchen and has helped thousands of people learn to use herbs in their daily lives in ways that are healthy, safe and fun. She is the director of Cultivating the Herbal Medicine Woman Within, an experiential training in using herbs in the home for everyday health. An intuitive and inspiring teacher, Kami works to revive the cultural art of home herbal care and teaches herbology as a relationship with the Earth and a way of life. For a schedule of classes or herbal consultations, visit www.livingawareness.com