Welcome, dear nature enthusiasts and herbal lovers.
Today`s blog post is a delightful exploration of one of my all-time favourite herbs: nettles!
As a family herbalist, I have a deep passion for foraging, wildlife, and the enchanting world of hedgerow medicines and so I am thrilled to share with you the wonders of nettles.
These remarkable plants hold a special place in my heart, and I'm excited to showcase their myriad benefits, fascinating folklore, and delicious culinary possibilities.
Best of all, nettles are a herb that can be enjoyed by everyone, as they offer a safe and nurturing experience for all who embrace their healing touch.
These vibrant and often misunderstood plants have an array of benefits that will leave you in awe. So, grab a cup of nettle tea and join me on this journey as we explore the remarkable properties, folklore, and culinary delights associated with nettles.
The Amazing Properties of Nettles
Nettles, scientifically known as Urtica dioica, possess an astonishing range of health benefits. Despite their prickly reputation, these resilient plants have been cherished throughout history for their medicinal qualities.
Rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium, nettles offer a nourishing boost to our overall well-being.
Nettles are particularly renowned for their potential to alleviate allergies and inflammation. Traditional herbal medicine suggests that consuming nettle preparations may help reduce symptoms of hay fever, seasonal allergies, and eczema.
The secret lies in their natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties, which can provide much-needed relief from those pesky allergies. They are often found in many allergy relief supplements that you can buy.
Additionally, nettles are cherished for their ability to support the body's detoxification processes. Their diuretic properties promote healthy kidney function, aiding in the elimination of toxins from the body. Nettle tea, in particular, is a gentle and soothing way to support internal cleansing.
When it comes to supporting liver health, nettles shine as a remarkable herbal ally. These vibrant green plants possess detoxifying properties that can aid in the cleansing and rejuvenation of the liver.
Nettles are known for their diuretic effects, promoting the elimination of waste products and toxins from the body. Moreover, they are rich in antioxidants and compounds such as chlorophyll, which help protect the liver from oxidative stress and support its optimal functioning.
Nettles boast a range of other remarkable benefits. Their high iron content makes them a valuable ally in supporting healthy blood circulation and combating iron-deficiency anemia.
Furthermore, nettles have been known to promote healthy hair growth due to their potential to nourish the scalp and stimulate hair follicles.
They also offer support to the skeletal system, thanks to their rich calcium and magnesium content, aiding in maintaining strong bones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
While it may come as a surprise, nettles are not just a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals; they also pack a punch when it comes to protein content.
These humble plants contain surprisingly high levels of protein, making them an excellent choice for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking to incorporate more plant-based protein into their diet. Protein is essential for various bodily functions, including muscle growth and repair, hormone production, and immune system support.
By adding nettles to your meals, such as in soups or sautéed dishes, you can boost your protein intake in a natural and sustainable way, while also enjoying their unique flavor and nutritional benefits.
With their impressive array of nutrients, nettles are a true gift from nature, providing an abundance of health-boosting benefits.
Exploring the Folklore and Mystery of Nettles
Nettles have captured the imaginations of cultures worldwide, leading to an abundance of folklore and intriguing traditions.
One notable tale involves the ancient Romans, who believed that the stinging sensation caused by nettles could invigorate the body. It was customary for Roman soldiers to gently whip themselves with nettles, believing that the sting would stimulate blood circulation and provide strength. While we don't recommend this particular practice today, it does highlight the enduring fascination with these remarkable plants.
Nettles have long held a prominent place in folklore and superstitions across different cultures. In ancient Europe, it was believed that stinging nettles possessed protective qualities against evil spirits and witches.
Hanging dried nettle bundles in doorways or placing them beneath a pillow was thought to ward off malevolent forces and bring good luck. It was also believed to be protective from lightening strikes.
Moreover, folklore suggests that if you accidentally stepped on nettles while walking in the woods, it was a sign that fairies were trying to communicate with you. These enchanting tales weave a mystical thread around nettles, further enhancing their allure and deepening our connection to the natural world. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, there's no denying the captivating aura that nettles exude.
Culinary Delights with Nettles:
Now that we've explored the remarkable properties and folklore surrounding nettles, let's dive into the culinary possibilities they offer. With the arrival of May, it's the perfect time to gather the fresh, young nettle tops, ensuring we make the most of their seasonal abundance.
One delightful way to enjoy nettles is by brewing nettle tea. Here's a simple recipe to make this nourishing elixir:
Nettles are also a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. Consider adding them to homemade soups or sautéing them as a nutritious alternative to spinach. When cooked, the sting of the nettles is neutralised, making them safe and enjoyable to consume.
Nettle soup has become somewhat of a spring tradition in my house. I have plenty of jack by the hedge growing in my garden, which has a garlic and mustard flavour to it. I love to combine this with nettle in a soup.
Here is a basic nettle soup recipe that you can adapt and add to:
Begin by carefully harvesting the fresh nettle tops, making sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from the stinging hairs.
Rinse the nettle tops thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and minced garlic, sautéing until they become translucent and fragrant.
Add the diced potato to the pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Gently add the rinsed nettle tops to the pot, stirring them into the onion, garlic, and potato mixture.
Pour in the vegetable or chicken stock, ensuring that the nettles are submerged in the liquid.
Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Carefully blend the soup using an immersion blender or transfer it in batches to a countertop blender, blending until smooth and creamy.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If desired, serve the nettle soup with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a dollop of plant-based yoghurt to add a refreshing tang or creamy texture.
Nettle Pesto Recipe
If you love pesto, you`ll love this! Nettles offer a delightful twist to traditional pesto recipes, infusing them with their unique flavour and nutritional benefits. Making nettle pesto is a wonderful way to incorporate these vibrant greens into your culinary creations. Here's a simple recipe to guide you:
Start by blanching the nettle leaves to remove their stinging properties.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, then carefully add the nettle leaves. Blanch for 1-2 minutes, then drain and rinse them under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel.
In a food processor or blender, combine the blanched nettle leaves, pine nuts or walnuts, garlic, and lemon juice. Pulse until the ingredients are roughly chopped.
While the food processor is running, gradually drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture reaches a smooth and creamy consistency.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, adjusting the flavours as desired.
Transfer the nettle pesto to a jar or airtight container and store it in the fridge.
Enjoy the nettle pesto on pasta, spread it on toast, or use it as a flavourful condiment for roasted vegetables and grilled meats. The possibilities are endless.
Preserving Nettles for Year-Round Use:
While May is the best time to gather fresh, young nettle tops, you can also preserve their goodness for year-round use. One simple method is drying nettle tops to create a nourishing herbal tea. Here's how you can do it:
Once completely dry, store the nettle leaves in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. They will retain their flavour and medicinal properties for many months, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of nettle tea even when fresh nettles are not in season.
As we draw to a close, my hope as a naturopathic nutritionist and nature enthusiast is that through this exploration of nettles, you've gained a newfound appreciation for these remarkable plants.
Nettles, often dismissed as mere "weeds," deserve to be recognised for their vast array of benefits and potential. Let us shift our perspective and see beyond their stinging reputation, embracing them as nurturing allies in our wellness journeys and culinary adventures.
May we notice nettles more, not as pesky intruders in our gardens, but as resilient and valuable companions in nature's tapestry. Let us recognise their medicinal properties, their culinary versatility, and their capacity to connect us with the wisdom of generations past.
By embracing nettles, we tap into the rich heritage of herbal folklore and the bountiful gifts nature provides.
So, the next time you come across nettles, may you see their potential rather than dismissing them as an annoyance.
Embrace their healing touch, savour their flavours in delightful dishes, and honor the centuries-old traditions that celebrate their remarkable properties. Let us cultivate a deeper appreciation for these vibrant green wonders and rediscover the magic they hold within.
Remember, nature has a way of surprising us, often hiding treasures in the most unexpected places. Nettles, with their plethora of benefits and untapped potential, are a testament to the wonders waiting to be discovered if we only take a closer look.
Let us walk hand in hand with nature, forging a bond that allows us to truly appreciate the beauty and benefits of every living thing.
Lastly, I invite you, dear readers, to embark on your own nettle-filled adventures in the kitchen.
Try out the nettle tea, nettle soup, and nettle pesto recipes shared in this post, and let your taste buds revel in the flavours of nature's bounty.
Don't forget to capture your culinary creations and share them with me on Instagram or Facebook. I would be thrilled to see your dishes and hear your stories of how nettles have enriched your lives. Together, let's celebrate the beauty of these humble plants and inspire others to discover their potential in nourishing both body and soul.
Remember to use the hashtag #NurtureWithNettles so we can easily find and share your posts. Let's build a community that embraces the wonders of nettles and the joy of foraging, cooking, and connecting with nature's abundant gifts.
So, don your aprons, gather your gloves, and embark on a nettle-filled journey that transcends their status as mere "weeds."
Embrace the benefits, explore the folklore, and unleash your creativity in the kitchen. Together, we can transform nettles from overlooked nuisances into beloved allies on our wellness path.
Disclaimer: Please ensure you handle nettles safely and responsibly, wearing gloves and following proper foraging guidelines. If you have any allergies or medical conditions, consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating nettles into your diet.
This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a qualified healthcare provider before incorporating nettles or any other herbal remedies into your wellness routine.
It`s late September and my house is smelling all lovely and fruity. That`s because I have a load of Rosehips in my dehydrator that I have picked this morning in-between the showers we are having this week, here in England. Honestly, it`s hard to know whether we`re coming or going this week. One minute we have blue skies, the next torrential rain. I`m sure it is timed everyday for 3pm when it`s time to go and pick up little B from School. Never mind...
Well, whilst the sun was shining I managed to get outside with my basket and snips and get a great haul of Rosehips. They are starting to get on the squishy side so if you are thinking about getting some, get them now!
When you pick your rosehips, you want the glossy red ones that are firm with a slight squeeze to them. They will go dull and lose their shine as they go past their best. They will mush when you squeeze them and go a brownish colour. Only get the ruby red ones.
The old advice was to wait until the first frost had sweetened them, but with our current warmer climate, they will be far too squishy if you wait for a frost in the UK. You can encourage them to sweeten by putting them in your freezer for a day or two at least before using them once defrosted.
Rosehips are so good for you in so many ways. Herbally, they are cooling, which is great if you have a fever but also have a calming influence. This means they are great for angry things like skin issues such as eczema or hives.
They are astringent, Stomach strengthening, great for diarrhoea, good for warding off coughs and colds (and also getting rid of them quicker), asthma, heart palpitations, immune system strengthening, mood lifting and nervous system supporting. They have great quantities of vitamin C in them which makes them an excellent choice to use as a supplement if you have any joint problems, cartilage issues (like Ehlers Danlos), osteoporosis and painful joints. This is because the pathway to create great functioning cartilage relies on having the right amount of vitamin C.
If you struggle with your immune system or are having immunomodulatory medicine or a condition where your immune system is compromised then you should explore them further also.
Rosehips have such an amazing amount of vitamin C within them that the UK Ministry of Defense looked into them during the war as a substitute for oranges (which were unavailable at the time)
It was found that the humble rosehip had 20 times more vitamin C than oranges!
The Ministry of Defense went on to get communities to gather rosehips across the UK and made rosehip syrup to be distributed across the nation to mothers and young children. People were taught how to make it and it was widely available to buy in chemists right up until the 1970s.
The Rosehip is grown on the wild rose bushes that you see in hedgerows. It is more commonly known as the Dog Rose. It was thought that the name "Dog Rose" pertained to the plants ability to heal the sufferer from the bite of a mad dog! It`s more commonly accepted that "Dog" was actually "Dag" and meant "dagger" due to the thorns and the serrated edges of the leaves.
It`s thorns can be quite brutal, so do be careful when you are foraging for the fruits. On the plus side, any medicinal plant with thorns is thought to be super - protective to the picker, both physically and mentally.
The rosehip is also supportive to our mood. It contains not only Vitamin C, but manganese, selenium, Vitamin K and B vitamins. All needed for brain health. Supplementing with rosehips can give you extra support with anxiety and depression by gently nurturing our nervous system.
Rosehips are pretty renowned for their ability to give us beautiful skin. Not only is rosehip oil extremely nourishing but the high vitamin C content is rejuvenating for the collagen in the skin. Rosehips are packed with antioxidants so will also go about removing all those free-radicals that can accumulate in our skin. They will also set about removing them all the way through your body if you consume them.
I love looking into the folklore and energetics of plants, I find it fascinating and usually the message that is being told can be linked to scientific studies that have revealed similar benefits.
In this case, when we work with the rose in general, it is said that we should think about wearing our own thorns. Perhaps you say yes too often to things you don`t want to do. Are you in the habit of self-sacrificing when you shouldn`t? Maybe you don`t stand up for yourself when you should. The rose is said to encourage us to have outward kindness and loveliness but also remember to protect ourselves by being a little more assertive.
It is also a good plant for those who are better at loving others than themselves. It can help you remember to find the good in yourself rather than looking for imperfections.
Looking at the evidence of the rosehip being supportive for anxiety, I guess this fits together nicely. Whether it does or not, they are good messages to listen to anyhow as each time we put ourselves last, our cells know about it!
Our immune response has been proven to react negatively when we are under stress, watch something that upsets us or generally feel like we are at the bottom of the pile. So put your thorns out a little... protect your emotions a little more, whilst retaining the grace and beauty of the rose and it`s fragrance.
So... what lovely things can you do with the rosehip?
Well... most commonly, people make syrups with it. It`s tasty and kids will usually happily take a spoonful. If you start taking a measure each day from the Autumn to the Spring, it will benefit them greatly over coughs and cold season. If you can double up with elderberry as well then all the better!
If you like making tinctures then that is an easy way of extracting their goodness and a glycerite tincture with rosehips would be great for kids.
If you prefer less of a sweet product, then try them in a tea. Rosehip tea is delicious and very nurturing. Let it steep for a good 15 minutes to get as much goodness out of the little hips as you can.
Herbal vinegars are also very good for extracting the phytonutrients so you could have a look into rosehip vinegar. You can use it as a dressing or dilute a little in water to drink.
More culinary recipes you can find are jams, powders and even ketchup!
Here comes a red flag alert so pay attention carefully to the next bit...
Rosehips are completely non-toxic but as you open them up, there are tiny little hairs inside, a bit like the ones on a cactus. You must remove them before making anything that you are going to consume. Do your research and look into how to do this - there`s plenty of tutorials out there on the internet.
The hairs are very irritating to the digestive tract and you don`t want them in there. Our digestive tract has enough to deal with already without having all those little hairs in their poking around. There are also little seeds that you need to remove so please be careful!
Ok.. warning over.
So what will I be doing with rosehips this season?
At the moment I am drying rosehips so that I can use them throughout the year. You can freeze them also, but I take up far too much room in our freezer with herbal products so I find jars of them to be convenient, and pretty to look at. I`ll be storing my dried ones for further use and making various remedies with fresh ones.
I will definitely be making syrups and tinctures and getting as much into my little girl and my family as possible. We choose to avoid the flu vaccine in our household so we will be fighting off any nasties with our usual routine of supplements and elderberry and rosehip. I`ll also be making rosehip oil to help with any skin issues and to use in my skin care routine.
I am without a kitchen at the moment as the building work is still happening here so no ketchups or jams for me!
You`ll have to let me know if you make any though how they turn out.
So Rosehips are wonderful, help with numerous things and are tasty and pretty. Go out and get some before they go mushy!
The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.