Who was love’s teacher, teach you too love’s cure;
Let the same hand that wounded bring the balm.
Healing and poisonous herbs the same soil bears,
And rose and Nettle oft grow side by side. “
When I was a child, a Nettle patch was something you stayed away from. Nobody taught me about the gifts Nettle can offer us. Now that I got to know this marvelous plant, I love it.
Nettle, as I found out, loves to grow in places where iron was left to rust. Nettle has a deep connection to iron. Hans Christen Andersen wrote a fairy tale, symbolic of Nettle’s relationship to iron, about 11 brother princes transformed into swans by their wicked stepmother. A crone instructed their young sister to weave a Nettle gown for each one of the swans. Once they wore the Nettle gowns, they returned their human form to them. Although Nettle was used throughout history for clothing, I believe that this beautiful legend is loaded with symbolism about iron in the body. If you ever had anemia, you will recognize the feeling of “floating,” being somewhat detached from your body, having a hard time keeping focus, and remembering what you meant to do. The human self is pulled out and is lost. The iron carried by the blood centers us and allows us to fully incarnate.
This vital interconnection of blood and iron is expressed in the Hebrew language; the word “Adam” means human, while “dam” means blood. Nettle, the “iron plant,” changes the entire energetic system. It contains more protein than any other native plant, large amounts of iron, trace minerals, fat, and chlorophyll. It is the herb for debility when the body needs to get moving again.
Nettle’s botanical name “Urtica” means urine in Greek. Nettle strengthens the kidney and the adrenal gland and nourishes the liver. It is a blood purifier that is used to remove uric acid from the body. Nettle can stimulate the body to expel metabolic waste, therefore healing rashes and eczema.
Nettle is an ally to women in all life phase. Nettle with raspberry leaves nourishes the adrenal gland and tones the tissue of the uterine, hence easing cramps, moodiness, and fatigue during the moon cycle. Nettle combined with raspberry and borage leaves is a great strengthening tea for new mothers and provides nutrients for the newborn through nursing. Nettle, sage, oat straw, raspberry leaves, and borage leaves support women through menopause. It reduces heat waves and sweating and helps overcome the low energy level and fatigue that color this time.
Nature invented death in order to have abundant life.
Urtication – flogging with Nettle – is a folk medicine used to create inflammation and warmth to treat stiff joints, paralysis, rheumatism, sciatica, varicose vein, and arthritis. The stinging results from histamine, a substance that Nettles, fire ants, and bees have in common. Histamine triggers an inflammatory response that attracts fluids, immune cells, nutrient, and heat (energy) to the afflicted area, assisting in healing and improving flexibility in stiff stagnant tissue.
“The role it (stinging nettle) plays in nature by virtue of its marvelous inner structure and way of working is very similar to that of the heart in the human organism”
Adding Nettles to manure in biodynamic preparation 504 helps transform the manure into a living substance sensitive to the environment and infuses it with the cosmic power of warmth. The Nettle, a Mars plant, like the human heart, is sensitive to the iron levels in its environment. It radiates iron that enables its neighboring plants to keep their integrity. The nutritional and medicinal qualities of these herbs are enhanced.
Stinging Nettle flower essence helps ground those who lack nurturing and support and have a weak self-identity because of childhood trauma. It strengthens the core of such a person, and through this strength, he or she can support others. It is also helpful for those whose body-soul fusion has been incomplete or is damaged due to trauma. As the Nettle plant is nurturing nearby plants, strengthening their unique healing oils and essences, the person with a firm body/soul fusion supports the essential beingness of those with whom they have contact.
Here in New Hampshire, Stinging Nettle season is at the end of April and throughout May. This timing aligns with our need for zesty, fresh green leaves after the heavy foods of wintertime. You can dry Stinging Nettles for use year-round, but there is nothing like using Stinging Nettles fresh in the season when they are full of life forces.
Stinging Nettle is very sustainable economically; you need to go out there and pick. Unless you want to get stung, which is another way to get the goodies Stinging Nettle can share, you will probably want to wear long sleeves and gloves. Although stinging Nettle is found in abundance, it is imperative to be respectful when wildcrafting it. Please pick up only what you are going to use, and do not forget to give thanks to this exceptional being, the Stinging Nettle.
Here is an excellent recipe for Stinging Nettle Pesto that I hope inspires you to try this fantastic herb.
It is good to blench the nettles before using them to get rid of their stinging edge. The act of boiling a green thing in very salty water for a short time, then moving them to a bowl of ice water sets and brightens the color. You now have prepared stinging nettles to be frozen in a vacuum-sealed bag or cooked in many ways.
Three garlic cloves
Two tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Two tablespoons grated cheese (any hard cheese will do)
6-8 tablespoons blanched, chopped nettles
Olive oil (use the good stuff)
Pesto is best made with a mortar and pestle, thus the name, which means “pound.’ You can make this in a food processor, but it will not be the same. First, add the pine nuts and crush lightly — as they are roundish, they will jump out of your mortar if you get too vigorous.
Roughly chop the garlic and add it to the mortar, then pound a little.
Add the salt, cheese, and nettles and commence pounding. Mash everything together, stirring with the pestle and mashing well, so it is all reasonably uniform.
Start adding olive oil. How much? It depends on how you are using your pesto. If you are making a spread, maybe two tablespoons. If a pasta sauce, double that or more. Either way, you add one tablespoon at a time, pounding and stirring to incorporate it.
Serve spread on bread, as an additive to minestrone, soup as a pasta sauce, or a dollop on fish or poultry.
In my program Aging With Grace – The Wise Women Way to Holistic Wellness at any Age, I share recipes for nettle and other mineral-rich herbs that can protect your bones, ground and fill you with energy.