Herb of the Month - April 2011

Stinging NETTLES – Urtica dioica

A plant after my own heart! It's named after the Anglo-Saxon word for, my favorite healing medium, "needle".

Nettle contains a wide variety of nutrients, such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, along with vitamins A,C, D, K and B complex.

Mother Nature has created impeccable timing for the blossoming time of this herb. It's no coincidence that nettle is an amazing tonic for the transition to warmer weather, as its harvest peak is in the spring time when when a lot of people deal with erupting allergy symptoms. The herb contains high levels of vitamin C, natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatory properties (including quercetin), that open up constricted bronchial and nasal passages.

Nettle's iron content makes it a wonderful blood builder, and the presence of vitamin C aids in the iron absorption. As a hemetic (an herb rich in iron), this is an excellent herb for anemia and fatigue, especially in women. It "promotes the process of protein transanimation in the liver, effectively utilizing digested proteins, while simultaneously preventing them from being discharged through the body as waste products."

Stinging nettle is beneficial during pregnancy due to its rich mineral value and vitamin K, which guards against excessive bleeding. It is also a good supplement to strengthen the fetus. It is used during labor to ease the pains, and will increase milk production in lactating women. Stinging nettle is often recommended for pre-menstrual syndrome because of its toxin-ridding activity. When the liver is sluggish, it processes estrogen slowly, contributing to the high levels that cause or aggravate PMS. It acts as a restorative remedy during menopause, and the astringency of the herb helps with excessive menstrual flow.

As a diuretic, stinging nettle increases the secretion and flow of urine. This makes it invaluable in cases of fluid retention and bladder infections. It is also anti-lithic and nephritic, breaking down stones in the kidneys and gravel in the bladder.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, nettle is a great addition to formulas used for building blood and ease allergy symptoms and helping the body drain dampness.

Read more about Nettle and it's uses from Dr. Christopher.