a year with Stinging Nettles – Urtica dioica materia medica

To gather materials from our local surroundings,

bringing them forth with conscious intelligence:

To thrive in places that flourish with respect and “positive” Earth:

To nurture Nature and symbiotically nurture yourself:

This is the way of the Nettle.

When brewing Tea, I’ve been making myself a now & later (tea for now, an infusion for later).  I like combining Nettles and Tulsi to accompany while I write.  This year allowed me to gather many knowledge molecules from the Nettle.  Now I plant them for you here, to grow and nourish.


Internal Nettles Medicine: Infusion Experiment

–          As an internal tonic: prepared as an infusion, taught by Susun Weed

–          Chock full of vitamins and minerals: Gaia’s “One-A-Day”

–          Stimulating and nourishing to the kidneys

–          anti-histamine/ allergies/ reducing inflammation

–          mamas-to-be can drink Nettles tea

I have been slowly but surely getting Nettles into my regular routine.  I made my last quart of my dried wild-crafted Nettles from VT tonight.  Moving on to a shipment from Mountain Rose Herbs, their Nettles are certified organic and sourced from Hungary (?).  I crave the infusion now, and really look forward to drinking it.  Comforting.  I especially like to drink it the last week of my moon cycle, to replenish the blood and give my body what it needs for the next moon phase.  Nettles infusions are also a great tonic for those who need more micro and macro nutrients in their diet.

External Nettles Medicine: The Sting of a Nettle

–          Arthritis and other inflammatory joint issues (like cures like!)

–          Weak circulation

–          I have a strong urge to incorporate it into a facial cleanser or toner

–          Lovely when included into a hair tonic / shampoo to reduce dandruff and enhance color (and prevent baldness?)

Oh how I love a good Nettles sting!  The wake-up shock and continual reminder through itchiness is right up my ally.  I’ve connected more so with the Nettles sting than its ingestion.  I enjoy dabbing them on my skin, giving a little tap-slap-whip, whenever I came across them in the wild.

I had an interesting conversation with an artist who experienced a giant Nettle in Australia and was told to avoid it – known to cause demise if the skin is stung or the hairs inhaled into the lungs.  I surfed the web and found the plant she speaks of: the Australian or Tree Nettle.  It is also a member of the Urticacea family.  However, it is of a different genus and species – Laportea moroides, and is not the same Nettles I am discussing here (Urtica dioica).  Though I do take caution now and remember this story while working with dried Nettles.

Sometimes the Nettles stings ya, and sometimes it don’t.

If it wants to it will, and if it doesn’t it won’t.

Deeper in the woods, where not many pass,

I find the Nettles to be stronger & longer to last.

A friendly patch you know of, you’ve maybe said hello,

Will brush up against you with a stingless mellow.

But if you ask it nicely, and slap it on your wrist,

The sting is present, curative and granting of your wish.

 * * * There are copious amounts of information out there about Nettle’s healing properties internally and topically.  It’s quite the magical plant, and useful in many ways.  I suggest taking a look at Matthew Wood’s book “The Book of Herbal Wisdom” or any other work by a trusted herbalist.  You’ll be amazed at what you find!!  Or, you can ask the Nettles plant directly.  I continue to find more uses for Nettles everyday, so you will continue to see the plant added to recipes! * * *

Nettles as Fertilizer

You may have heard of Biodynamic Farming, interpreted by Rudolph Steiner.  On the website biodynamics.com they describe Steiner’s studies as “the conclusion that western civilization would increasingly bring destruction to itself and the earth if it did not begin to incorporate an objective understanding of the spiritual world and its interrelationship with the physical world.  Steiner’s spiritual scientific methods and insights have given birth to practical holistic innovations in many fields including education, banking, medicine, psychology, the arts and, not least, agriculture.”  He’s actually quite a hero of mine.  And I can relate to his seemingly “kooky” theories (they all seem a bit otherworldly when speaking on speaking to plants…)!

Biodynamic Farming is a conscious act of farming with the planetary forces of the Galaxy.  In one aspect, you utilize the phases of the moon and its water pulling abilities to maximize your planting and harvesting.  For instance, the Full Moon pulls water to the surface of the Earth – so you harvest any fruiting above-ground plants at the Full Moon if you want them to be watery/juicy (like tomatoes!).  If you want to harvest roots, you do so during the New Moon when water (and nutrients) are pulled down to the center of the Earth.  You can also tie in the location of the planets, etc to further your cosmic gardening.

Rudolph Steiner worked with plants on a chemical level, and noticed that certain plants and their ability to gather nutrients had a profound affect on soil processes as well as plant health.  He made biodynamic preparations or “preps” that involve putting herbs in the horns of certain animals and burying them on certain cosmic alignment days for so many days, and unearthing them at the exact moment that gives them their highest potential.  There is a rhyme and reason behind all of the steps, which, given the time and resources, I could dig.

For now I take the simpler route and work with the herbs Steiner mentions as being best for the compost.  These herbs allow the compost to utilize nutrients and break down efficiently the scraps which are brewing within the mixture.  From OregonsWildHarvest.com: “[The preps] are usually fermented and then applied in very small proportions to compost piles, to the soil or sprayed directly onto the plants. Creating these preps sounds almost mystical however it is proven to not only work but to be based in the new spiritual scientific approach to working with the earth.  The original biodynamic (BD) preparations are numbered 500-507.”

Nettles is an important part of Biodynamic Farming.

  prep BD504 as they sell it.

“This preparation is made from the whole Stinging Nettle plant before it flowers. The prep helps in decomposition by working on the nitrogen content of the compost. It aids chlorophyll formation and stimulates iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur activity in the soil. Stinging nettle promotes soil health, providing plants with the individual nutrition components they need and thus creating more nutrients in the plants themselves. Used homeopathically, one teaspoon treats 10 tons of compost!” (oregonswildharvest.com)

Makes sense since Nettles prefer to grow in very fertile soil.  It’s actually a sign that your soil is in good health if you have Nettles growing.  They prefer the yummy soil so they can soak up the nutrients and pass them on to you (and the compost pile!).

Nettles Meditation

My year spent with Stinging Nettle has brought forth two significant mantras:  To be aware/conscious/intentional.  (I have not mastered this but I am more so than when I started)    And:    Nourishment is the essence of life.  (To be malnourished is to be stuck.  One can not move, literally, without nourishment)

In September I went to Zack Woods Herb Farm in Hyde Park, VT and romped around their fields, meditating with various varieties and seeing the medicinal herbs in farm-cohesion.  I joked with the Plant Spirit, in all seriousness, and started giggling while exclaiming “Nettles Hug”.  The Nettles at Zack Woods were very sharp and the sting was nothing to mess with.  I gave an aura hug to the plant and was stung on the sly quite a few times.  It was worth it.  I was able to find myself deep in the Earth and amongst the largest patch of Nettles I’ve seen.  Thank you to the Vermont herb growers hor holding such a space.

I have been fortunate enough to be provoked into meditation by the Nettle for a little short and sweet.  A few tid-bits told here and there while walking the woods or enjoying the backyard.  The first being the surface meanings: taking time to be conscious of their presence when walking the woods, and knowing that intention can be part of the medicine.

This theme of being conscious mirrors the actual act of meditating with the Nettles.  As if the goal of meditating is really to be in the present moment and not to drift off into dream land as often.  To have what I need at hand to carpe diem.  In conscious waking life, the Nettles meditations gave me the confidence and ability to pass along the wonders of the plant to those who also walk the waking path.  Yes.  Consciousness.  Boom, Shiva!  Consciousness and Process.  Processing literally as the plant does.  Attracting positive nutrients, processing them into its own self, and then releasing through process. The Doctrine of Signatures never ceases to amaze me.  I find it useful to connect a plant’s physical features with its healing capabilities by drawing it – and of course I went through a stint of drawing the Nettles plant, passing on her Spirit gift to those who spared paper and pen for the creation.

Nettles is an herb that I will continue to bring along with me in life.  Our relationship has developed slowly in the Spirit sense, but with great pleasure and passion.  My meditations have taught me to appreciate the process.  Waiting for the herbs to infuse for several hours – learning the patience associated with getting to know someone or something well – constant nourishment to achieve greatness and optimal health.  Writing and processing my thoughts and experience over this past year is wonderful.  I hadn’t realized how much I’d learned and felt, how the Nettles brought medicine which coincided with my healing journey over the past year.  Twirling, twirling, twirling.  Sister Spinster.  Softly stroking my face with a sweet loving touch.

Not every plant communicates in the same manner: Something an Earth Apprentice learns through many Spirit conversations.



Dearest Nettles, you fill my heart and body’s desires.  Thank you for being in arm’s length, and showing me where you grow.  Thank you for keeping me well and bringing the nutrients of the soil to my blood and soul.  Sweet Blessings to you and your kind, may we continue to dance gently along the Earth together.

Give Thanks and Praise for Nettles

Namaste Sweet Urtica




5 thoughts on “a year with Stinging Nettles – Urtica dioica materia medica

    • Hi Joanne, Have you tried asking your local herb shops or health food stores? You could always go through Mountain Rose Herbs if you can’t find it locally. Or try to find them in the wild (the best type to eat, in my opinion!)

  1. Pingback: Spring Greeeeeeeeens | TINY PONY APOTHECARY

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