Gathering Nettles: Foraging for Your Health
Stinging Nettles, Urtica dioica, also known as nettle leaves, or stingers are a perennial flowering plant native to many areas of the world, and we are blessed to have them in the PNW (Pacific Northwest). In the spring, I find them near the water. They seem to be everywhere you look. They are both nutritious delicious and therapeutic.
Stinging nettles have many vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, pigments and polyphenols. They are good for joint ailments, as well as the urinary tract and kidneys. Handle them carefully, as touching them can give you quite the sting and a rash. But they are used topically for nerve pain with care.
I love foraging, as it lets me and my pups go enjoy nature. Getting out of the house for walks in the woods, or by the lake if so relaxing. With they sun on your back, you can receive vitamin D therapy as well as a little bit of a work out. It is so easy, take a big paper bag and a scissors, don’t forget some garden gloves to protect your skin. Fill a few bags, and take time to smell the flowers, and let the dogs go play in the water. Make and adventure out of it.
After harvesting the plants, bring them home and boil for a few minutes in water. This neutralizes the sting, so you can ingest therm. Add these leaves to salad, stew, or anything you would put spinach in. My favorite breakfast nettle dish is a nettle omelet. Save the boiled water as it makes delicious yummy tea that is soooo good for you.
The dogs love the tea on their food as well as the leaves. With a bit of honey and cinnamon, I love the tea too. My older dog Olive Oil benefits from the nettles as she has arthritis and lower back issues. We all eat nettles, and love them. My kidneys love the awakening, or vitality as nettles nourish and support both the kidneys and bladder. Nettles can also reduce inflammation, allergy symptoms, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
I recommend gathering nettles for the entire family, dogs, kids, the whole kit and kaboodle. Get outside, enjoy the day, seize the moment, and get healthy!!