In praise of nettles

In praise of nettles

As it’s the Spring Equinox, it seemed appropriate to write about plants and growing. I have dabbled in herbalism for the past few years and have made a few tinctures and dried plants to use in teas. It’s one of those things that I’m going to get around to doing properly ‘one of these days‘, but of course, unless I push myself, ‘one of these days‘ will never arrive!

So, I’ve made a commitment to myself that this spring and summer, I will get ‘out there’ and explore at least three plants as thoroughly as I can. My current three are Nettle, Plantain and Elder.

Nettle is a brilliant plant. I’m already taking nettle seed (along with other things) for anxiety, but the whole plant has many uses. The leaves (the top 2 or 3 sets in spring and early summer), are highly nutritious as a food, and as a medicine. The seeds, as already mentioned, have some great qualities too, and the root can also be used as a medicine. The great thing about nettle is it’s abundance – certainly in the UK, you can find it fairly easily.

This YouTube video gives you an introduction to some of the benefits of the humble Nettle, along with useful information on when and how to harvest it.

 

Beyond food and medicine, there is also the possibility of using nettle as a fibre too. I went to a talk a month ago, where the speaker showed us some nettle thread which had been spun. Nettle cord is another use and is quite easy to make and incredibly strong.

According to the website, nettlesforhealth.com the Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) contain the following:

Vitamin A, C, E, F, K, P
Vitamin B- complexes as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6 all of which are found in high levels and act as antioxidents.
​Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Selenium
Boron, Bromine, Calcium, Chlorine, Chlorophyll, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Iodine, Chromium, Silicon and Sulfur

Sixteen free amino acids have been found in the leaves as well as many carotenoids such as beta-carotene, luteoxanthin and lutein epoxide.

Stinging nettle is indeed a powerhouse of nutrients. Along with the nutrients mentioned above, it contains on average:

22% protein 4% fats 37% non-nitrogen extracts
9-21% fiber 19-29% ash.

The actual content will of course vary according to the soil quality and particular strain of the plant, but you get the idea that it’s just packed full of good stuff. I would encourage you discover the benefits of seeing nettle as an ally and use it!

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Cat Scramble by Elen Sentier

Cat Scramble by Elen Sentier

Every so often I hear some great, inspiring poetry or writing. I posted Tom Hiron’s poem, “Sometimes a Wild God” which still inspires me, especially the performance of it by storyteller Mark Lewis which is at the bottom of the page on this link:

https://hawthornrising.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/sometimes-a-wild-god/

But last week, I caught this, ‘Cat Scramble’ by Elen Sentier. Like she says in the story, “this place speaks to me”, and this writing does to. It speaks of wild places that are good for the soul, of taking and giving back, of the cycles of life. Continue reading “Cat Scramble by Elen Sentier”