Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica)

curated by Janet Lancaster

Recently, the San Diego Herb Guild held their annual Nettles Festival in the Trees for Health Garden in Balboa Park. Essentially, the powers that be over the park have agreed not to spray the nettles with RoundUp provided they are picked. Hence, the annual Nettles Festival. This year we had a great turn out and a beautiful morning to harvest.  In this post, we share some of the basic info about Urtica dioica so that you will know why so many herbalists include them in their kitchen apothecary.

Stinging Nettles are in the Urticales order, which is comprised of 6 families. Among them are:

·         Ulmaceae – there are 15 genera in this family. The genus Ulmus includes 45 species, including Ulmus rubra Muhl. – slippery elm.
·         Cannabaceae – only 2 genera in this family including Cannabis and Cannibas sativa L. is  marijuana.
·         Urticaceae - there are between 45 and 48 genera. Stinging nettles belongs to the genus Urtica and dioica is the species.


If you’ve ever handled stinging nettles without wearing gloves or otherwise came in contact with them, you’ve experienced urticaria. Urticaria is commonly known as hives, or a skin rash that causes a burning of stinging sensation.

Parts Used

Leaves, stems, flowers and roots.

Chemical and Nutrient Content

Nettle has both nutritive and medicinal value. It contains chlorphyll, iron, glucoquinine, indoles (including histamine and serotonin), acetylcholine (an organic chemical that serves as a neurotransmitter), antioxidants (kaempferol and quercetin), vitamin C and other vitamins, protein and dietary fiber.



Actions

Urtica dioica is astringent, tonic, diuretic and hypotensive.

What For

Nettle is one of the most practical herbs due to their ability to support and strengthen the entire body. Nettles are used as a detoxification remedy and spring tonic in Europe. It can be helpful both topically and internally for myalgia and osteoarthritis, two conditions that can be both painful and difficult to treat. Urtica dioica can also be helpful in dealing with gout.

Nettle is called for with all varieties of eczema, including childhood eczema and nervous eczema. It combines well with Figwort and Burdock to treat eczema. It can also help with similar types of skin conditions including psoriasis.

Interestingly, nettle contains both hyper- and hypoglycemic constituents. Nettle root has successfully treated early stages of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Men wanting to support prostate function, may want to consider using nettle root. Research has shown that nettle reduces the frequency of urination, improves the flow of urine and decreases the amount of residual urine. Studies have also found to reduce nocturia – being awakened at night due to the need to urinate. Along the same line, nettle can be used to treat symptoms of urinary tract infections.

Since nettle is astringent, it may be used for nose bleeds or to relieve symptoms associated with hemorrhage in the body, e.g. uterine hemorrhage.

Allergy sufferers may find relief from the symptoms of hay fever. Although nettle contains histamine, it has been found to reduce the body’s production of histamine.

As a tea, nettle can help resolve ulcers, hemorrhoids and intestinal inflammation.

Preparations

Nettle can be made into soup stock, tea, tincture, capsules and infusion. Nettle can also be added to juices and taken while fasting.

Contraindications

Remember that fresh nettle causes stinging or burning sensation when it comes in contact with tissue. Theoretically it may decrease the efficacy of anticoagulant drugs when taken internally. For this reason, check with your doctor before using nettle if taking a blood thinner or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, e.g. Advil.
 
Glucoquinine is believed to reduce blood sugar levels and may adversely interact with prescription drugs that reduce blood sugar levels. For this reason, those taking diabetes medications should always consult with their doctor before using nettles.

References


Medical Herbalism, The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, David Hoffman, FNIMH, AHG, Healing Arts Press, 2003, Rochester, VT

Prescription for Nutritional Healing, A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, James F. Blach, M.D., Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C, Avery Publishing Group, Inc., 1990, Garden City Park, NY


The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal, A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies, David Hoffman, Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1996, New York, NY

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

February 3 Herbal Marketplace and Program - Bioregional Herbalism

Most herbalists would agree the best way to get know herbal medicine is to start with what grows around you. You can go to a store and buy an herbal tincture or capsule but to truly create a relationship with plant medicine is to spend time with them in their native environments. This includes going for hikes, growing a garden and simply taking note of the virulent weeds growing around you. Plants like Nettle (Urtica), Black mustard (Brassica) and Chickweed (Stellaria), are all very common and very useful!


Join Shana Lipner Grover, herbal and nutritional educator and founder of Sage Country Herbs for this highly informative class complete with weedy recipes, local botany for identification purposes.

See our Events page for more details.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

It's Here! The 2016 Nettles Festival is January 22!


Trees for Health volunteers, members of the San Diego Herb Guild, professional herbalists and student herbalists are all invited to come harvest nettles in the Trees for Health Garden on Friday, January 22. The Trees for Health Garden  is located on Balboa Drive just south of the Camp Fire Boys and Girls Camp and just north of Quince Drive. Follow this link for a map. 

Once you have harvested what you need, please be prepared to stay and help clear the garden of nettles for at least one hour. The park allows us to grow the nettles as long as we remove them in a timely fashion. You may start later than 8 AM, but may miss the best nettles.

Please check in with Joanne Odenthal when you arrive. Joanne will be wearing a green shirt and yellow volunteer vest - and a name tag. Everyone there to harvest MUST have a name tag prior to starting. (We need a record of who has joined the fun!)

Bring water, a hat, your own gloves and a bag for your harvest. 

Questions? Send us an email. 

RAIN CANCELS

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trees for Health Tree Planting in Balboa Park


We're very excited that the plans Herb Guild member Charlotte Tenney drew up are becoming real! Six new oak trees and four Torrey pine trees will be planted in the area bordering the northeast of the current garden. Four of the oaks will form the oak circle Charlotte envisioned three years ago. The remaining oaks and the pines will be placed on the hillside to enhance the native habitat. The trees being planted in Trees for Health are part of a larger effort by the Balboa Park Conservancy to plant 40 new trees in the park. This is a significant event with the mayor and other officials in attendance.


Come help us plant! If you're not currently a volunteer but would like to come for the event, please do! RSVP here. Learn more about the Trees for Health Garden in Balboa Park on our blog here.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

We Will Miss You, Charlotte

Charlotte Tenney

We are saddened to report the passing of longtime San Diego Herb Guild member Charlotte Tenney. Charlotte was a member of the San Diego Herb Club (now Guild) for more than 20 years. During that time she was instrumental in founding the Trees for Health Arboretum, along with Herb Club members Barbara Carey and Fern Wilson. Trees for Health began in 1995 and has evolved into an arboretum with more than 70 trees, shrubs, and ground covers, all with medicinal uses. Charlotte's vision for the garden has kept growing over the years, and includes educational outreach with videos posted on You Tube, a new Five Flavors of Health Tour, and a class for students of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University. In March 2015, Charlotte was our featured speaker and spoke on "Herbs for Supporting Cancer Recovery" at the San Diego Herb Guild's first Herbal Marketplace and Program. The talk drew one of the largest crowds the Guild has hosted. Charlotte's depth of knowledge and great delivery captivated the 70+ people in attendance.

In addition to her work at Trees for Health, Charlotte has volunteered at Shakti Rising and had a regular column on herbal medicine in the Presidio Sentinel. She pursued a Masters in Integrative Health and made connections with practitioners at Scripps Integrative Health. She led the annual tour of medicinal plants for the Scripps Natural Supplement Conference at the San Diego Botanic Gardens. Charlotte has made a notable contribution to herbal medicine in San Diego.

Charlotte not only believed in the power of integrative and alternative health care, but embraced it on her own journey of healing. She sought out and found a treatment with someone - Dr. Ben Johnson - who believed in her ability to heal. Charlotte knew that integrative medical treatment, nutrition, supplements and exercise work with the body to enable it to heal itself.
The Scripps Natural Supplements Conference

Charlotte leaves beyond a wonderful legacy for us to enjoy now as well as for future generations to enjoy and find healing from. Rest in peace Charlotte, you were loved by so very many. We will miss you.
Strewing herbs for a presentation at San Diego Herb Guild

Dedicating the Ylang Ylang tree to Fern Wilson

Charlotte at a San Diego Herb Guild meeting

Charlotte and visitors to the Trees for Health Garden



















Saturday, June 13, 2015

Come Join Our Community at San Diego Herb Guild's Annual Potluck


Come join San Diego Herb Guild at our Annual Potluck in the Trees for Health Garden in Balboa Park on Wednesday, July 1 at 5:30 PM. Please bring your own utensils and drink, chair and a dish to share. All are welcome! Click here for an online map.