The Power of Nettle
I AM ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO IS NATURALLY CURIOUS, and as such I try a lot of different things on for size when it comes to wellness and health. Some of these trials are successful and become concrete parts of my routine, such as making kombucha or coconut yogurt, but one thing that stands out slightly above the rest is drinking nettle infusions. The idea was first introduced to me by a close friend who recommended a book that I've come to swear by, Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year, written by celebrated herbalist Susun Weed who focuses on women's wellness. Short and succinct, the book is a referrence guide for healing and nourishing herbs to supplement and support your body as it moves through the immense task of building a baby in just 9 short months. To think of the billions of cell divisions that take place throughout that time, the sheer vastness and complexity render me speechless—every healthy baby born truly is a miracle— and at least in my case, the effects of such a physical task, though not requiring conscious effort on my part, are very deeply felt.
Even if you are not expecting, or not even female, nettle provides amazing benefits—many that I can personally attest to (as can others I've suggested it to)—Susun Weed calls it one of the "finest nourishing tonics known...reputed to have more chlorophyll than any other herb." And from another web article she has published, nettle contains: "anti-cancer selenium, immune-enhancing sulphur, memory-enhancing zinc, diabetes-chasing chromium, and bone-building boron. A quart of nettle infusion contains more than 1000 milligrams of calcium, 15000 IU of vitamin A, 760 milligrams of vitamin K, 10% protein, and lavish amounts of most B vitamins."
For me, the effects of drinking a cup's worth of nettle infusion are immediately felt, particularly in my mood and energy. I feel a steady boost of energy that far surpasses that of caffeine (and without the crash) and lasts for hours, a relieving wash of mental clarity, and relief of aches and pains including headache. Here are some more benefits that Susun discusses with regular consumption (approximately 1-2 cups per day, or 2-3 quarts/liters per week):
- Increases energy but also strangely promotes better sleep due to the fact that it increases energy without increasing blood sugar which makes sleep deeper
- Provides deep kidney flushing support—the strong action on kidneys makes nettle a powerful detoxifier, but this also means nettle is a diuretic so copious amounts of pure water should be taken alongside nettle infusions. During pregnancy women's kidneys must work doubly hard so supporting and then rebalancing them post-pregnancy with nettle is a good idea.
- Because of it's wide-ranging and concentrated list of vitamins and minerals, nettle supports healthy bone and tissues, making it an effective treatment for arthritis and osteoporosis, or a nourishing post-workout drink. Similarly, the high calcium and vitamin K content ease muscle cramps and can ease pain during and after labour.
- After birth, nettle infusion is a galactogogue—a substance that increases the amount and richness of breastmilk.
- You will often see nettle listed as an ingredient in shampoo and condition because many swear it brings a shine and swing to the hair, strengthens fingernails, and clears and firms skin (that last one is especially important to expectant mamas!).
- Restores elasticity to blood vessels, and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol; also a good supplement for diabetics.
- Nettle improves digestion, and is anti-cancer and anti-oxidant.
To Make a Nettle Infusion
I use 1/3 cup of dried, organic nettle (which is incredibly inexpensive by the way) per 1 liter of water. Boil 1 liter of clean, non-chlorinated water (well or fresh harvested spring water is best) and pour over the dried herbs. Allow to sit overnight, or for a minimum of 4 hours. Pour through a sieve and compost the herbs. Store in a glass jar in the fridge. Consume within 1-5 days.
IMPORTANT NOTE—Nettle is something I take after considerable research and years of experimenting with it. I have found it to be safe and endorsed by my midwife, but please note that Pure Green shares this strictly for informational purposes, to spark your curiosity to do your own research, and find solutions that work for you—please ask your wellness practitioner or doctor for any questions or concerns specific to your own health.