One of my favorite herbs is nettle, a plant that I first learned about from my midwife when I was pregnant with Ella (we don’t have stinging nettle where I live, though it turns out my in-laws have it everywhere – I guess I never paid attention!).
Nettle is a nutrient-dense herb, rich in easily-assimilated vitamins A, C, D and K, as well as calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron and sulfur.
It is well known as a uterine tonic and also strengthens kidneys and adrenals (thank you abundance of vitamins and minerals). Nettle is said to have the highest chlorophyll content of any plant, making it an excellent food.
The calcium content makes it an excellent herb to take for easing leg cramps and muscle spasms. I know I’m not the only one who got those insane Charlie Horse cramps when I was pregnant. I still can’t stretch my legs with my toes pointed for fear of getting another one. Ouch.
Nettle’s calcium content also affects the uterus, helping to diminish pain during and after birth.
Nettle is also a good home remedy for hemorrhoids – its astringency will help tighten and strengthen blood vessels and reduce this problem.
This wondrous herb is also helpful in battling seasonal allergies, which is thought to be caused by nettle’s anti-inflammatory properties and adrenal-supporting nutrients. We’ve used nettle tincture with success for hayfever.
Nettle tincture is most helpful for allergies when taken for more than 30 days, however, we’ve upped the dose for acute allergy symptoms and got pretty quick relief.
You can take nettle a few ways – herbal tea, tincture, or you could even eat the nettle leaves. However, one of the easiest ways to take nettle is via tincture.
A tincture contains concentrated plant properties, usually in alcohol. Sometimes tinctures are made with glycerin, which tastes better but doesn’t keep as long as alcohol-based tinctures (which are said to keep their potency for 2 years or more).
How to Make Nettle Tincture
- 1 pint 90 proof alcohol, like vodka or gin
- 4 oz cut nettle leaf (or thereabouts – you want enough to fill your pint jar half way)
- Pint-size canning jar with lid
- Wooden spoon
- Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
- Bowl to strain into (I use this one – it holds my strainer well and can be used for lots of stuff)
- Dark bottle to store tincture (I like the ones with droppers)
Put the nettle leaf and alcohol in your jar, stir and cover with the lid. Label the jar with what’s inside (very important!).
Place the jar in a cool, dark place, for 2-3 weeks and shake it daily.
When you strain, pour over the strainer into the bowl. Use your wooden spoon to press down on the herbs left in the strainer to get the liquid out. Pour the finished tincture in your dark bottle to store and seal the lid tightly.
Since I store my tincture in bottles with droppers, I use 1-3 dropperfuls when I need to take this. For allergies, I do 2 dropperfuls daily to prevent symptoms. I put the tincture in about 4 ounces of water, then hold it in my mouth for a few seconds before swallowing.
Some take the tincture sublingually (under the tongue), which gets it into your bloodstream quicker. However, the strong taste keeps many people from doing this.