Spring is thankfully here, creating a buzz in the air. I am definitely feeling lighter and brighter, even as the reality of environmental and emotional stressors persist during these tumultuous times. Spring energy is all about awakening from winter’s darkness, shedding what is no longer serving us, and preparing for the activity and abundance of summer. Traditionally, it is a time for detoxification protocols. But especially at this moment in time, when we may be feeling weak from burnout, it is crucial that any detoxification also comes with intentional nourishment. This will keep our deep immune and energy reserves intact. A potent plant to welcome in for this purpose is stinging nettle (urtica dioica).
Stinging Nettle and Nourishment
Yes, stinging nettle – that plant you try to avoid on a hike! These pesky “weeds” happen to be one of the most powerful medicinal plants one can include in their herbal apothecary. Nettles are all about deep, green sustenance, paired with a cleansing release. They strengthen your bones, hair, and teeth. Nettles enhance immunity and adrenal function. They are both cleansing and nourishing for the kidneys and they decrease water retention and joint swelling through their diuretic action. Unlike prescription diuretics, nettles do not deplete potassium levels.
A strong cup of nettle tea will help to scour the free radicals that can damage your cells, and also give you a big energy boost via high levels of protein, iron, and B vitamins. Their drying effect and anti-histamine properties make nettle very helpful for those who struggle with spring congestion and hay fever.
A long infusion of nettle is best. It takes time to break down the cell walls in the plant, releasing all of those wonderful minerals and vitamins. Add a handful of the dried nettle to a quart-sized pot or jar, pour 4 cups boiling water over them, cover, and steep for 20 minutes. Better yet, leave them on the counter overnight. Strain and drink hot or cold, and add honey or an herbal elixir like Plant Alchemy Immunity Elixir, if you prefer a little sweetness. Again, nettle tea can be energetically drying, so if taken in excess on its own, it may aggravate bodies that tend toward constitutional dryness. In that case, I recommend pairing nettle with herbs like oatstraw, violet, or linden to increase cellular hydration and overall juiciness of the body.