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The Nifty Nettle

Walking with my Labrador through the paddocks recently I couldn’t help but notice the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) growing everywhere amongst the trees. Known as a weed to farmers, livestock do eat it. The sheep seem to bite off the tops and our cattle actually have better things to eat at the moment.

For humans though, it is a nifty plant used for centuries in traditional and evidence based herbal medicine. It can also be consumed as food and to produce fabric and rope. It gains credibility by being officially recognized in Turkey and Germany as medicine for many dis-ease conditions.

Nettle as a food is a nutritious herb containing vitamins such as A,B,C,E and minerals of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. That sting we experience when brushing against the plant is from its healthy source of silicon contained in the glass-like fragile hairs that break off into our skin. Ouch!

So what did I do? I put gloves on and picked a bunch to make yummy nettle pesto. (steaming the nettles first of course!)

A qualified natural medicine practitioner understands that plants and herbs can contain chemicals compounds that create various healing effects. When infused as a tea, tonic or capsule in the appropriate doses the leaf of the nettle is traditionally used as a natural antihistamine assisting with reduction of hay fever symptoms and topically for itchy skin.

Science has also shown effectiveness in the reduction of inflammation of osteo & rheumatic arthritis — This may explain why historically Aboriginal people knew to “beat away” rheumatic pain by smacking this prickly plant all over the body.

The root of the nettle offers healing actions for reducing prostate cell growth and has been used to support Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia and urinary imbalances in men.

Addressing more current events, the root’s antiviral properties could be considered a candidate for coronavirus antiviral research. The root contains a particular protein called Lectins which creates protective actions that prevent virus attachment to our cells and in some studies showed effectiveness against the SARs-coronavirus of 2013.

Who would have thought this nifty little plant growing all over our paddocks has so much healing potential to humans? Like any plant medicine though, it needs to be exactly identified before use and may not be right for everyone especially those on some medications so make sure and discuss its potential with your GP or natural medicine practitioner.

Scientific references provided upon request.

Written by Cassandra Ledger Clinical Nutritionist, Naturopath, Medical Herbalist, Grass-Fed Cattle Producer

Disclaimer – The information in this article is intended for general interest and educational purposes and is not a prescription or recommendation for your individual health circumstances. All readers of this content interested in any use of items mentioned in this article must be approved or prescribed by your own medical practitioner or qualified natural health professional.

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