When I was growing up back in Denmark Stinging Nettle was a very important herb in my life.
The nettle I am referring to is the Urtica dioica which is an herbaceous perennial flowering plant, native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America.
I was very close to my Grandmother and she would teach me about herbs and so called weeds about animals and insects and about the time when she was a young girl working as a sheep herder on a small island. She knew a lot about survival. She recycled everything she could ever think of. Nothing was ever wasted. She told me how to use the stinging nettle to ward off or lessen the pain of arthritis by applying the herb directly on the skin. I thought that was a bit cruel. The darling boys in the neighbourhood sometimes flogged me with the nettle leaving red aggressive burning sensations on legs and arms for a day or two.
I loved my Grandmothers nettle soup which had no sting what so ever. Stinging nettle has a flavor similar to spinach or should I just call it a green taste when cooked and it is rich in vitamins A, C, D, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium. The soup would consist of any seasonal vegetable, meat broth, a bit of salt and pepper. The nettle added app. 2 minutes before serving. If we did not have enough nettle growing in the garden we just went to the old forest up the hill to collect a big heap. By the way while in the forest we would have a talk to the old Oak trees and fill our water containers with lovely spring water.
Grandmother would harvest the nettle around summer solstice, dry the nettle and have the herb hanging in big bundles in a dark airy place on the loft. When dry she would crumble the nettle into small pieces and store in airtight glass jars. She would make herbal infusions which I found a bit bland in them days but today I love my nettle infusion. It is a great infusion to drink hot or cold and it is a real thirst quencher on the hot days which we have a lot of here in the Mareeba area.
I suffered a lot from bladder infections in my twenties. My doctor gave me a lot of synthetic antibiotic which my body found difficulty to handle. I got fed up and went to the local organic shop and spoke about my trouble. Who walked into my life again? The Stinging Nettle! I would drink as much as I could as the herb cleans the blood and is the best blood builder ever. I would boil water, pour in a bucket and add a big handful of dried herbs. Sit on the bucket and have a hot nettle steam bath. Gosh it was hot. It got the sweat going and you would feel like a whistling buoy in heavy sea.
After a while living closely together with herbs I started to appreciate these living creatures and I started to adore the Stinging Nettle and to see its beauty. It became a friend, a healing friend and a great companion. When you drink the infusion or eat the leaves in a soup you are reminded that you are eating the everlasting cosmic powers. You eat the Sun and all the energy of the planets. You are infused by the power of the milky way. You feel the empowerment in your blood and feel strengthen after each mouthful.
I also used the nettle as a steam face bath head down in the sink with a towel over my head to keep the steam at its best performance. I had a head full of pimples as a teenager and did I hate that face starring at me in the mirror. But good old nettle helped me again. The cells, pores, ego and all responded and accepted the burning sensation of healing and eventually the ugly duckling turned into a food conscious being that had enough of sweets and sugars. I changed my diet to raw cauliflower, carrots, peas and potatoes amongst others.
I came to a stage where I could no longer use the artificial chemical based shampoos and soaps and I went back to the organic shop for a search for an alternative. Guess what! A bottle of Stinging Nettle shampoo happened to drop from the top shelf when the shop assistant was attending to another customer! I could not believe my luck.
I have a really great relationship with nettles. Its gender is masculine. The plant is ruled by Mars and the element is Fire. I am a Leo and all about Fire so we go really well together. I think it is amazing how things fit in together. If you would like to read about nettle and its medicinal use please have a look in “How can I use Herbs in my Daily Life” by Isabell Shipard.
If you find the nettle infusion too bland try the following mixture: nettle, ginger, turmeric, calendula, dandelion, peppermint, rosehip and hibiscus.
I am a spinner and one of my favorite fibers to spin is the Ramie another stinging nettle (Boehmeria nivea) native to eastern Asia. It is a lovely fiber to wear in the tropics especially in the hot months as it is a very cool fiber.
Have fun working out your own relationship with the universe and its many billions of wonder-workers.