Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioicea) is a miracle herb.
It embodies the permaculture principle “the problem is the solution”: nettle juice heals its own sting. Taking a few minutes to contemplate that can unleash a lot of insight.
It tells a story: nettles like to grow in rich soil. If you find a patch of nettles on an old farm, chances are they’re growing on the site of the old compost or manure pile. If you find nettles in undisturbed wilderness, they’re telling you that the flow of nutrients through this area collects beneath them.
It defines its boundaries: Nettles are covered in tiny hairs that, when brushed gently, release formic acid. This STINGS. Nettles are incredibly nourishing, but you have to treat them with respect.
It hold many lessons for mothers: Nettle stems are incredibly tough and flexible. Rope made of nettles can be bent in every direction without breaking. Nettles make an incredibly rich compost, nourishing soil and seedlings, but they require a lot of nourishment themselves to thrive. Nettles are a complete protein, sufficient unto themselves, but they require strong boundaries. Nettle infusion is rich in iron and calcium, nutrients many mothers are deficient in. Nettles are an excellent goad out of stuck or tight places: nettle stings act as a counter-irritant to relieve joint and rheumatic pain.
Nettle infusion is very easy to make. Simply put 1/2 cup of dried nettle leaf into a quart mason jar. Fill to the top with boiling water and allow it to sit overnight. Strain the next morning and sip throughout the day. Nettles grow abundantly throughout most of the US, but remember not to harvest near roads or railways, and to harvest with respect.
When I drink nettle infusion, I am more flexible and less easily wounded. My skin glows. I do not crave sweets. I feel more rooted, connected to my time and place and history. I am more comfortable taking space. When I am making soap for mothers, I love to replace water with nettle infusion. I sneak nettles into the lasagna when my children are feeling touchy or vulnerable. I use nettle cordage on my dreamcatchers for added protection. And when I am having difficulty setting boundaries, I carry it in a little pouch, close to my heart.
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