Nothing New Under The Sun
Welcome to the Merry Month Of May!
I would say, the merry, MIRACULOUS month of May!
The flowers are blooming in all their glory, birds are singing and flying back & forth to feed their nestlings, and all that we need for our spring health and vitality is growing wild just outside our back door!
There is so much life bursting forth now, surrounding us with color, sound and scent, stirring our hearts, awakening us to our role in this etherial, other worldly, and yet very tangible orchestration.
German mystic, Jakob Boehme (1575-1624) wrote beautifully of this:
" In this Light, my spirit soon saw through all things and in all creatures, in herb and grass, knew God, who He is, how He is, and what is His will."
With all of our senses wide open, it is a perfect time to learn about what nature provides us with in every season to keep us functioning clearly in body mind and spirit!
Dandelion, violet, ground ivy, garlic mustard, lambs quarters are prolific during this season, each with their own special qualities and healing properties, and another day I will go in to their gifts, but for this blog I want to feature one of my absolute favorites in the herbal medicinal world, Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
deeper within and without
we find true healing
I consider stinging nettle to be one of the most versatile of medicinal herbs.
I also think of nettle as a good friend and often refer to nettle as "she".
All parts of the nettle plant (stem, leaf, root ,flower, and seed) can be used to address a wide range of conditions.
Nettle is a blood purifier as well as a blood builder,
healing tissue damage, strengthening kidneys, and restoring adrenals.
I have used it to support women during their pregnancy, birth, and lactation.
Its blood enriching properties help keep the anemia often associated with pregnancy at bay, continues to build blood after the blood loss of birth, and encourages milk production for the nursing mother.
I have also witnessed amazing results for people being challenged by cancer who have chosen to also use conventional medical treatments that weaken the immune function and organs.
One woman who I was assisting and was undergoing radiation and chemo for breast cancer astounded her doctors after just 2 weeks on nettle infusions. When she went for her assessment after her second round of treatments, her blood count was close to normal , she had no hair loss, and was not experiencing the nausea or exhaustion she had after the first round.
Nettle tea can be sipped throughout the day to alleviate constipation and nettle infusion can be taken daily to prevent and alleviate seasonal and other allergies.
In addition to drinking the nettle teas and infusions, one can add them to the bath to ease dry itchy skin or to a hair rinse to strengthen hair and stimulate hair growth.
This wonderfully nourishing tonic herb is a friend to all in spite of its reputation.
In the wild, it stings the passerby who gets close enough to brush against it.
The sting can be quite irritating but soon passes.
This sting has histamines that have been know to trigger a healing (antihistamine) response when brushed against arthritic areas of the body.
I was once gathering nettles with a Polish friend of mine who asked me to brush a large bunch of nettles across her lower back to heal her back pain. She had learned this from her grandmother in Poland and had been practicing this method with success for many years.
In the energetic world, nettle “wakes us up” to our connection to higher cosmic energies in addition to waking up our nervous system.
For those in need of more scientific backing on nettles attributes, she is known to have very high levels of iron, calcium, magnesium, chromium, phosphorus, as well as vitamins E,D ,K, and B complex.
To treat the many neurological issues from chronic Lyme disease, I drink a quart of stinging nettle daily. Of course it is also building my blood, strengthening my kidneys, and making my hair shiny & my skin soft...At my age(108), I need all the support I can
Foraging is my passion and nettle is one of the first plants I forage in spring .
After a long winter, when spring is alive and mud is abundant,I put on my mud boots and grab my spade and bucket and go off in search of nettle.
I have my usual places where she always returns, but I love finding new places to add to my rounds.
She loves to grow near barnyards still in operation or abandoned where the old stone foundations hold the story a farm long ago.
She is also found in nearby meadows and sometimes by streams all relatively close to the past or present farmland.
The first shoots of nettle are the most tender, sweet and delicious for fresh use. When weeks go by and the plants grow taller, cut for drying and when very tall, leave them for seeds.
I became a vegetarian when I was 14 and so have many vivid memories of animal foods that I ate before that. I happened to be fond of liver and onions as a child and that dish was loaded with iron. I have always been prone to anemia and so believe that this dish was quite welcomed by my low blood in those early years.
When I first started gathering nettles, instinctively I caramelized a large amount of onions and then added many fresh nettle heads to the pan. I then added a pinch of sea salt, a splash of water and put a lid on it to allow the nettles to steam.
What a strange sensation to be reminded of the childhood liver and onions while eating
these delicious rich nettles and onions also loaded with iron!
So get yourself a good wild plant identification book, find or make a friend of one who knows their plants, join a foraging group, put on your mud boots, grab a spade, and get acquainted with your plant medicine allies! You will be gratified one hundred times over!! Add to you list of tools clippers and gloves to avoid the "sting"...There is a way to pick nettles without the sting getting the better of you...but don't try that at home :)
Use nettle in place of basil for nettle pesto and serve over noodles:
Blend the "Build Your Blood" recipe below to make a nettle puree soup:
Build Your Iron
For 2 servings
French cut 2 large onions and sauté on a low flame in 2 tablespoons of olive oil stirring occasionally to prevent burning and until the onions are clear, slightly stringy, and turning golden.
To this add at least a dozen rinsed nettle tops, a pinch of sea salt and 2 tablespoons of spring water to the pot and cover immediately.
(optional) Add tofu, tempeh, or seitan for added protein and "texture"
Steam for 3-5 minutes and then enjoy this rich, blood building medicinal food and be prepared for cosmic communication from this point on!
One handful of dried nettle in a mason jar
Fill with boiled water
Cover and let sit for at least 4 hours or overnight
Strain and sip throughout the day
Rewarm but do not boil
A delicious way to benefit from all of nettles gifts is to make nettle vinegar to use on salads or to take by the spoonful.
Use any vinegar but white (Apple Cider Vinegar is my favorite)
Shake out freshly harvested nettles to loosen any dirt or insects that may be in it
Chop plant leaf and stem and fill a jar to the top with it
Cover the plant material with vinegar let settle and fill again when you see that it has been absorbed into the plant
Let sit covered for 6 weeks
Pour off through strainer or cheesecloth into another jar
Use in cooking as you would any vinegar or take a tablespoon a day
Many Many Blessings and MUCH LOVE!
See you soon!!
Garden Buddha at Konkapot Cottage
Basket of freshly harvested stinging nettle
Cashew nettle pesto over soba noodles
Pureed nettle soup
The Beloved Pond across the way