Tender-handed stroke a nettle And it stings you for your pains; Grasp it like a man of mettle, And it soft as silk remains. — Aaron Hill (1685-1750)
Nettle is as well known for its sting as for its medicinal benefits. Commonly nicknamed Stinging Nettle, this hardy perenial is one of the most undervalued plants despite its long history as a home remedy and nutritious green.
Romans used its fresh leaves in a practice called urtication. In cold, damp winter weather they rubbed or beat the leaves onto their skin, causing intense irritation. The heat created was thought to ward off infections, and the formic acid (responsible for the sting) was believed to relieve pain in rheumatic joints. We now know that Nettle is beneficial in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism, however less drastic measures of receiving the benefits are adopted today. Being stung by Nettle regularly while gardening is believed to give protection in later life against arthritis and rheumatism.
Medicinally, the constituents of the whole plant can be utilised as a diuretic and as a stimulating tonic. Nettle is also excellent in the treatment of anaemia, excessive menstruatiion, haemorrhoids and skin conditions, especially eczema and burns. Native Americans used Nettle tea as an aid in pregnancy, childbirth and nursing and felt it to be a perfect herb for women. Research in the United States, Germany and Japan shows the root of Nettle to be beneficial in the treatment of enlarged prostate.
Nutritionally, Nettle is high in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C, iron, silica and potassium. Throughout history it has been used as a nourishing tonic and a valuable addition to the diet. Good gloves must be used for harvesting in summer. Thoroughly drying or cooking the leaves neutralises the sting and makes them safe to eat. Young leaves can be used for tea or added to soups or stews.
Nettle Insight The knowledge that Nettle teaches comes with a sting, but if handled appropriately it has a potent, positive message. Nettle insight is about exploring new, positive approaches to communication…a time to express your feelings, By relating more openly and honestly you will allow any built up anger or frustration to be released in a balanced way. Nettle is cleansing and purifying, and therefore asking you to cleanse and purify and re-establish unity and balance through emotional release and positive communication.
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