Nettle (Xun Ma)
Botanical Name: Urtica dioica
Stinging nettle has been used for food, medicine and even to make fabric. It is famous for being able to relieve almost all symptoms caused by allergies: itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and nasal inflammation. The herb’s tonic properties are considered to be anti-aging and can help purify the blood. Nettle’s fibers have been used by many cultures, ancient and modern, to make cloth. Nettle also helps break curses and spells.
Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – There’s more to Nettle than its Sting…
Below is an overview of nettle, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of nettle.
How to take FULL advantage of Nettle's healing powers...
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Western Name: Nettle
Also Known As: Stinging Nettle
Organs/Systems: Respiratory, Metabolism, Prostrate, Bladder, Intestines
Key Actions: Decongestant, Antihistamine, Anti-inflammatory, Diuretic, Immune Enhancing, Mild Laxative, Astringent, Tonic
Medicinal Uses: Improves immune system function. Regulates blood sugar. Improves appetite and memory, Counters unwanted weight loss. Treats arthritis, eczema, gout, anemia, enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, cholesterol, allergies, hay fever, colds and flu, coughs, congestion, constipation, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, balding, aching muscles.
Pin Yin: Xun Ma
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Lung, Liver, Kidney
Key Actions: Tonifies the Lungs, Purifies Blood, Drains Phlegm, Builds Blood, Tonifies the Kidney, Tonifies Liver Yin, Stops Bleeding, Regulates Metabolism, Astringent, Treats Skin
Medicinal Uses: Cleanses the Blood from environmental toxins and toxins in food. Improves stamina and lactation. Treats Eczema, congested lungs, coughs, asthma, shingles, dry skin, dull hair, brittle nails, poor appetite, wounds, burns, urinary tract infections, allergy congestion, gout, edema, hot flashes, night sweats, hemorrhage, postpartum bleeding, heavy menses, irregular menses.
Basic Habitat / Botany:
Heart shape, finely-toothed leaves that taper to a point and are covered in fine stinging hairs. The flowers are green in long, branched clusters. Male and female flowers can be found on one plant, but usually, a plant will bear either male or female flowers which bloom from June to September. The plant’s perennial roots are creeping, allowing it to multiply quickly.
Nettle is native to Africa and Western Asia. It is now naturalized across the globe. It likes temperate climates, preferring shady regions with moist soils.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaf, Root, Seeds
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Astringent, Cool, Dry
Caution: Considered very safe, may cause an allergic rash when handling due to the plants “sting,” wear gloves while harvesting and preparing fresh plants.
Key Constituents: Silicon, Protein, Potassium, Chlorophyll, Vitamins A, D, C, K, and B complex, Formic acid, Iron Phosphates, Histamine, Serotonin, Choline, Minerals, Amino acids, Lecithin, Carotenoids, Flavonoids, Sterols, Tannins, Alkaloids, Astragalin, Butyric acid, Caffeic acids, Carbonic acid, Linoleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Oleic Acid, Chlorophyll, Stigmasterol, Terpenes, Quercetin, Kaempferol, and Coumarins. The stinging fluid’s active ingredient is Bicarbonate of Ammonia.
History/Folklore: In Ancient Greece, stinging nettle was used primarily as a diuretic and laxative. The genus name, Urtica, derives from the Latin word “uro,” meaning to burn, as the plant is well known for its burning, stinging properties due to the fluid contained in the stinging hairs found on the leaves. An East Indian species is powerful enough to sting and burn for days. The species name, dioica, means “of two houses” and refers to the plant being male and female.
In Ancient Egypt, the oil from the seeds was burned in lamps, and in Arab countries, nettle seeds were ground and mixed with horse’s food to bring a gloss to their coats.
In Ancient Rome, soldiers would bring stinging nettle seeds with them to rub into cold chapped skin to help counteract the effects of numbness due to extreme cold on their limbs.
The word “nettle” is thought to have derived from German or Scandinavia from the word “netel” or “noedl” meaning a needle as not only does the plant sting like being pricked by needles but it was also used to supply thread before flax or hemp was available.
“Net” means to “spin or sew.” Its fibers can make fine textiles or coarse fabric for sailcloth or sacking. The nettles were cut, dried, and steeped, with the fibers then separated to be spun into yarn. Both hemp and flax were introduced into Northern Europe to replace the use of nettle. Studies have shown that good nettle is equal to cotton in terms of quality and durability. In 1915, Germany used nettle to make cloth for their military uniforms. Using nettle to make fabric is an ancient art in China with hand-woven fabrics being found in mummy cases that date back as far as the fifteenth dynasty.
Besides being used as a cotton substitute for making fabric and twine, stinging nettle has been used for sugar, starch, protein, and ethyl alcohol production.
Stinging nettle has been used for centuries to treat allergy symptoms, particularly hay fever. In Germany, nettle is a common ingredient in herbal prescriptions for rheumatic and inflammatory complaints, including prostate enlargement.
The healing power of stinging nettle is steeped in folklore. There is an old fairy tale, The Wild Swans, in which the heroine must weave a shirt of nettle leaves if she is to save her brothers from a curse that turned them into swans. It has been said that stings from the nettle can prevent sorcery. Nettle is a good protective plant that is considered good at breaking spells and jinxes.
Stinging nettle is used in potions designed to transition a difficult situation into a nurturing one. The leaves can be burned to drive out negative energies or break curses.
The herb’s ability to clear uric acid wastes from the body makes it good for treating eczema, gout, arthritis, and kidney stones. Combined with large amounts of water, stinging nettle is used in so-called “irrigation therapy” to treat urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
Stinging nettle leaves can be placed against the skin to externally treat arthritic pain and the branches of the stinging plant can be swiped at the infected area to also provide relief from arthritis.
An infusion of the dried herb, an alcoholic tincture made from the fresh plant, or juice of the fresh herb in doses of 1-2 tablespoons is famously used to stop uterine bleeding, nosebleeds, and internal bleeding. Nettle can help treat anemia, poor circulation, and an enlarged spleen. Stinging nettle is considered one of the best all-around female tonics as they are excellent for women starting their menses and women entering menopause.
Stinging nettle roots are used to aid urinary dysfunction caused by enlarged prostate or infection. This includes nighttime urination, kidney stones, painful urination, irritable bladder, and frequent urination.
A common tea can be made by pouring 1 cup of just-boiled water over 1-2 teaspoons of the herb. Steep for ten minutes and take 3 times a day. Honey can be added as a sweetener. To eat the leaves as a vegetable, gather the top 6-8 inches of the plant’s young spring tops and wash them in running water with a stick, place the dripping sprigs in a saucepan without adding any water, and saute with just butter, salt, and pepper. This delicious dish of greens will have slight laxative properties and remember, this recipe is only for the young tops of nettle plants, by autumn the leaves are too hurtful and full of the stinging crystals they contain.
The burning property of the stinging juice is dissipated with heat, enabling the young shoots of the nettle to be eaten when boiled.
Steamed leaves can be eaten in salads, soups, stews, and pasta. The healthy and nutritious roots are also a wonderful vegetable and easy to digest.
The sting of nettle can be cured and eased by rubbing the afflicted area with rosemary, mint, or sage leaves.
Plants are harvested in May and June, just before coming into flower. The seeds and flowers can be dried in the sun.
Their presence in the environment is a good sign of nitrogen-rich soil. Tradition says that nettle grows where either a human or animal once lived, probably due to the high levels of nitrogen and phosphates found in the soil where decomposition has occurred.
Those plants that are in rich deep soil can grow to be 5 to 6 feet tall and are the best for producing fiber. If planted in the neighborhood of beehives, it is said nettle will drive away frogs. The plants are also an important food for the larvae of butterflies and moths.
Stinging nettle beer was an Old English folk remedy used by elders to help cure gout and rheumatic pains, but the beer can also be enjoyed simply for its flavor. Nettle can be used as a substitute for rennet in cheese making.
The juice of the plant is stronger medicinally than either the leaves or the root.
Cows will produce more milk if fed nettle rather than hay, if the nettles have been picked and allowed to wilt, so the “sting” is gone. Horses and cattle suffering from malnutrition and digestive problems have improved when fed wilted nettles. Dried and powdered nettle added to food for poultry increases their egg production and improves their health.
Don’t confuse stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) with white, yellow, or purple dead nettle (Lamium album). They are four different plants. All of the “dead” nettles are called “dead” because they do not sting and can be properly identified by their hollow, square stalks. White dead nettle (Lamium album) can be further identified once they are in bloom as their flowers are very different. Purple dead nettle (Lamium purpureum) has heart or kidney-shaped leaves that are blunt and not pointed. Yellow dead nettle (Lamium galeobdolon) has flowers that grow in whorls and are longer than those of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).
Ease Nettle's Sting
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How to use Nettle (Xun Ma) and take FULL advantage of it's healing powers!
Find out how to safely use this powerful herb and get specific recipes you can make use of immediately. Dive deep into Eastern and Western perspectives about HOW and WHY this herb works. Includes uses, benefits, essential oils, gardening tips, and much, much more.
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