Stinging Nettle a Medieval Remedy

Stinging Nettle a Medieval Remedy

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Historically, stinging nettle has been used since medieval medicine to treat arthritis, and was considered useful as an antidote to poisonous herbs. It was also used as a tonic in the Spring likely for allergy sufferers, and said to ‘stimulate the kidneys’ (as it was known to have a diuretic effect). I recently found stinging nettle being sold at our local farmer’s market, both Sacramento Midtown Farmers Market displayed just like any other greens being sold at the stands. Just as it’s name implies, stinging nettle can potentially cause the skin to blister, with just a gentle touch. The leaves of nettle are hairy, and the stems prickly, but it is cherished by farmers who know the potential value of this herbs beneficial effects on the body. The farmer selling the nettle described how she had been using it for years, and she used it widely on the farm, for the health of her animals, feeding it to them dried. She regularly used it as a tea, for her own allergies and arthritis. The farmer described that the proper way to use stinging nettle was to “Just take a few leaves, and use it just like tea, pour some hot water over them, and it will deactivate the sting, you can drink it, and then eat the leaves later on.” It was as easy as cutting a few leaves, with the protection of dishwashing gloves, placing them in a mug, and pouring boiling water over then. After steeping for a few minutes. I took a cautious sip, half expecting my throat to close off, but finding no reaction at all of any kind. It had a mild and refreshing flavor. The farmer recommended eating the cooked leaves afterwards, which didn’t have any stinging effect to my relief and surprise. In the end, I did get actually get ‘stung’ by the nettle, as I was putting it away, my hand grazed the leaf, causing a welt, which burned uncomfortably for several hours, but resolved without any complications. Stinging nettle, it’s benefits, which were once widely known, has been lost over generations, may be making its way back. A friend informed me they ‘eradicate’ it, as a nuisance weed in their own yard. If you happen come across this weed/herb, in your backyard garden, consider keeping it around, for its unique uses. *Rodales illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs pg 472 Disclaimer this is not to be considered medical advice, stinging nettle may interact with other medication, check with your doctor!

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