NETTLE

Urtica dioica, U.urens, U. gracilis 

Common Name: Nettle, Stinging Nettle, Wild Spinach, Devils Leaf
Family: Urticaceae
Part/s Used: Leaves + Roots + Seeds
Energetics: Neutral 
Taste: Sweet, bland, astringent
Actions: Nutritive, diuretic, homostatic, astringent, anti allergenic, inflammation modulating, galactagogue, emollient 
Constituents: Histamine, vitamins A and D, Iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, silica
Element: Fire 
Planet: Mars

Medicinal Preparations:

Tincture: Fresh leaves or roots 1:2 to 1:4 95%  Dry (ratio & % alcohol): 1:5 50% alcohol
Drops: 30-60   Times a day: 3x
 
Glycerite: Fresh leaf 1:2.5-1:4  Glycerin: 50% Water: 50%
Drops: 30-60   Times a day: 3x
 
Acetum Extract: Fresh leaves 1:2.5-1:4 organic ACV or simplers method

Dosage: 1tsp   Times a day: 1-3x before meals

Tea: 8-12 oz of standard or cold infusion of the leaves  
Times a day: 3-4x
Decoction: 4-8 oz strong decoction or cold infusion of the root     
Times a day: 2-3x

Habitat and Botanical Description: 

Nettle can be found everywhere in the pacific northwest in moist, nitrogen rich areas along streams, open forests, ditches, mountain slopes, woodland clearings, in disturbed areas such as roadsides and old fields. They are connected by an extensive underground network of rhizomes that can spread 5 feet or more in a growing season.

Medicinal Uses:

Nettle is a highly nutritive land plant rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C ,E and K, iron, selenium, magnesium, chlorophyll. silica, calcium.  This immune boosting herb contains astringent qualities with gentle decongestant properties and support lax mucous membranes. Those with seasonal allergies or recovering from acute illnesses accompanied by a runny nose, watery eyes, coughing will find nettles help to alleviate these symptoms.
  
Nettle is a specific for women and can be used throughout all her stages in life. An excellent tonic for PMS, new mothers by nourishing and promoting milk flow and building the blood. Drinking the tea will also nourish the breast milk. Nettles hemostatic properties help with excessive bleeding during menstruation, mid cycle spotting, minor bleeding in stools, hemorrhoids. 
  
Nettle root has a much stronger affinity for the prostate and the male reproductive system. Nettle root increases urine flow and reduces frequency of urination at night (primary complaint in BPH). The root combines nicely with the leaf which is a stronger diuretic, great for reducing inflammation for prostatitis and nutritive for debilitated tissues. Eaten raw, daily nourishing tonics, teas and tinctures are beneficial.

External:

Regular use of Urtica has been used to improve skin and hair. Using a localized application of ACV is most effective for dandruff and hair loss and can be used as a darkening agent for dark hair. 

Harvesting:

Gather carefully, covering exposed skin. Harvest nettles in the spring during aries season, up to the time it begins to flower. If using fresh, cut the first two or three pairs of leaves from the top of the plant. Fresh nettle can be used in tea, tincture, wild pesto (blanched), juiced, cooked, steamed. If you plan on using for later use, cut the top third of the plant though the fibrous stalk and bundle together with twine and hang upside down. Strip the leaves when dry. The hairs are inactive when dry but some can remain. The roots of nettle should be harvested in the fall, during scorpio season.   

Contraindications:

Sharp, stinging hairs encompass this entire plant. The sting is more potent when in flower. Leaves should be cooked or blanched before use. Flowers and seeds are mild irritants and better left unused. 

 

Sources:
Northwest School for Botanical Studies by Christa Sinadinos 
Evolutionary herbalism. The Vitalist practitioner program. Class notes by Sajah Popham