Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Herb Profile: Nettles!

So nettles are at the base of several of our teas. Wanna know why? They are awesome! So nutritious and plenty of great medicine in this humble plant.

We put it as the base of our Allergy Tea:
Newly cut nettles, waiting to be dried for tea.
In a double-blind study, 58 percent of people reported nettles to to be very effective in lessening seasonal allergies (by itself).

The stinging hairs contain amines — histamine, seratonin, acetylcholine — as well as glucoquinones and chlorophyll. It is thought that these are some of the active constituents (though as with all herbs the list of active constituents is much greater than science can tell us).

Histamine is the component that induces the inflammatory cascade and leads to the symptoms. It acts like a local hormone that modulates the immune response. Fifty percent of allergy symptoms are caused by the release of histamine from mast cells. The allergen binds to the mast cell and the mast cell spills out inflammation and immune mediators which cause at first an acute/immediate response, and they in turn then release their own mediators in a delayed response that occurs hours later. The issue becomes a problem when this cycle repeats incessantly.

Nettle affects this part of the problem. (The leaf is also anti-inflammatory.)

Wear gloves! They don't call them "stinging nettles" for nothing!
Nettles are also in our Preggers Tea and some of our other female reproductive teas

Herbalists and midwives have recommended nettle leaves as a tonic for pregnant women for generations. It is high in iron, which is much needed during gestation.

It is also wonderful for treating and preventing urinary tract issues, which can rear their head at this time.

Nutritionally, nettles are a powerhouse! It is reputed to have more chlorophyll than any other herb. The list of vitamins and minerals in this herb includes nearly every one known to be necessary for human health and growth. Nettle leaves are a storehouse of nutrition, with high iron and calcium contents, as well as an excellent source of folic acid, an essential nutrient during pregnancy.

Nettles, ready for drying.
Nettle strengthens the kidneys and adrenals, while it relieves fluid retention. Because nettle also supports the vascular system, it can prevent varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Postpartum, it increases breast milk (so it will be added to our ending Milky Time Tea, too).

I drank a combination of nettles, oatstraw, and red raspberry leaf during my pregnancy and swear by it. Now that I am no longer pregnant, I enjoy nettles to maintain optimum nutrition and to help me deal with seasonal allergies.

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