Nettle (stinging nettle)- Urtica Dioica
Nettle has long been recognized for its bounty of nutrition as well as its sting. Folk medicine and lore worldwide attributes the powers of protection and fertility to this incredible plant. Wisdom handed down from ancient times includes advice on using nettle to protect one’s self from lightning, to enhance fertility particularly in men, to reduce the swelling of arthritic joints, to heal the sick and bestow courage on those who carry it as well as how to avoid being stung by nettle. Nettle fibers have been found in burial cloths from the Bronze age, also closely linking this plant with the threshold between life and death, and giving credence to the various folklore bits that describe Nettle as growing from or near the dead.
Nettle protects herself and her space with a mild sting that can last for days. Urtica is derived from Latin verb urere, which means "to burn," and is named such due to its stinging (urticate) hairs. The species name dioica comes from the botanical term dioecious meaning that a species has either male or female flowers. In this, she asks us to recognize and honor the worth of what she gives; if you’re willing to hazard the sting to gain her treasure, you’re more likely to value what you have taken. When nettle has come into your life, especially around a project you’re nurturing, take time to ensure you and those who might benefit from your work recognize and value your contribution.
Nettles and Wildlife
The stinging nettle is one of the most important native plants for wildlife in the UK and Ireland. The nettle supports over 40 species of insect including some of our most colourful butterflies. The most notable nettle patch inhabitants are the small tortoiseshell and peacock butterfly larvae which feed in large groups hidden in silken tents at the top of the nettle stems. Many nettle patches hold overwintering aphids which swarm around the fresh spring growth and provide an early food source for ladybirds. These same aphids are eaten in large numbers by blue tits and other woodland birds agile enough to dart around the stems. In late summer the huge quantity of seed produced provide a food source for many of our seed eating birds. It can be seen that the nettle plays a very important role for both rural and urban wildlife - indeed some of the insect species such as the nettle weevil live only in the nettle patch.
Astringent, antiseptic, diuretic, alterative, tonic, trophorestorive (bringing balance to a system, in this case nettle seed is a trophorestorative to the kidney and adrenal glands)
Uses and Preparations
Nettles can be used to help treat- Anaemia, laminitis, cellulites, lymphangitis, arthritis, rheumatism, respitory issues, assists healing of all injuries, skin allergies, blood cleanser, spring hair tonic to hasten shedding of winter coat, nutritive boost.
Buy dried nettles to add to feed.
or make a herbal tea to dampen down feed.
Helps detoxify the body. Nettle is a diuretic, which means that it helps in flushing out harmful chemicals and excess liquids from the body. Herbalists have prescribed the use of nettle in treating urinary tract infections as well, because of its ability to cleanse and dispel toxins. This herb has also been called a “spring tonic,” which is a substance intended to cleanse the body after winter.
• Promotes healthy blood circulation and cardiovascular health. Nettle contains high amounts of iron and vitamin C. Vitamin C improves the body’s absorption of iron, which aids in alleviating anemia and fatigue. This herb also contains a considerable amount of potassium, a mineral that reduces tension in your arteries and blood vessels. ( the iron nettles contain is organic iron which performs differently in the body than inorganic iron )
• Alleviates allergic reactions. While physical contact with the nettle leaf can cause allergic reactions, the ingestion of nettle tea is known to help dampen the body’s response to allergens by binding with the body’s histamine receptors. It can be used to aid in the prevention of rhinitis, or the inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose.
• Reduces arthritis pain. The antioxidant properties of the nettle plant have been observed to help minimize inflammation.
Commonly the dried leaf is used. Additionally, the young tender shoots of the fresh plant may be cut down and left to dry where the horses will gobble them up, as once they are dried the sting will go. Dried nettles can be added straight to feed half a cup per day for an average size horse. Its very easy to dry your own nettles check out http://www.gettystewart.com/how-to-harvest-dry-freeze-use-stinging-nettle/ .
Horses can be allergic to nettles and can develop a rash. If this happens, stop feeding nettle.
Keep it Real- R.Kelly Equine Herbalist.