Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nettle Hunting

Stinging Nettle
Yesterday we went hunting for stinging nettle with friends.  Do you have urban forests near you?  Maybe you have an actual forest to explore and hunt in?  Before gathering foliage in your forest be sure you are allowed to.  Some places will not look kindly on removing foliage, and be sure to not over pick if you do pick! 

Miss, Heather led the lesson and it was a fun energetic group that set out yesterday mid morning.  We learned about the proper way to pick stinging nettle, different ways to eat it, a few ways to combat the sting when it happens, and what it was historically used for.

So, what is stinging nettle?  The leaves and stems of stinging nettle are covered with little silky hairs that contain three chemicals.  One is a histamine that irritates skin (many of us can attest to this!), acetylcholine which causes a burning feeling (mine are still stinging!), and serotonin. When brushing up against the plant with bare skin, a painful rash similar to poison ivy will result. Because the irritant is acidic in nature, it can be treated by counteracting it with some basic items which include mud, Broadleaf Dock plants, spit, rubbing alcohol (how many of us carry this in our nature walk pack?), and even baking soda (not something normally carried in our bag on a nature walk...). 

Stinging nettle plants are said to provide a cure for arthritis; helping allergies; relieving hair loss; treating Celiac disease; and more.  They are high in vitamins and often used as a spring tonic (much like dandelions).  Its really something everyone could benefit from drinking.  We had smoothies and ate/drank ours that way.  I also read that the following can be helpful.  f course as with all things, weigh it carefully and consult a doctor if you have any concerns. 

Learning how to remove leaves more safely. 
You might still get stung by the "nettles"
on the plant but if you are carful
you can limit it.
Nettle Infusion (for teas):   Place about 16 oz of boiling water on the stove and add in 1 tablespoon of dried stinging nettles. Cover the pot and let set and steep for about 30 minutes.
 Nettle for your baths: This is good for sciatica. Place a large amount of the herbs including the roots in cold water over night. The next morning boil the concoction and place in the bathtub. Soak ...in the herbs for as long as you feel comfortable. This may also be used as a foot soak. (I want to try this!)

Shampoo wash: Place one half cup of the dried herbs in a huge 5 qt pot/pan. Bring the herbs to boil slowly. Remove from the stove and keep covered for an additional 10 minutes. Add in some shaved olive oil soap and bring to boil. Cool to a warm mixture and wash your hair with this. 

The leaf of a dock plant is said to help take
the "sting" out the sting of nettle pricks.

Gathering Nettles!

From:  Stinging nettle health benefits for home remedies that treat just about everything.

So get into nature and gather some natural foods (never eat it unless you know what it is for sure and that its edible!).

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