There will be a morning soon that I will wake up and feel like I got socked in the face. My throat will be scratchy and my eyes swollen. Bar fight? Oncoming cold? Allergies. Thankfully, years ago, I found a ridiculously simple remedy for allergies and brewed it up myself to make it even more effective. Stinging nettles.
Stinging nettles tea or extract will work in three minutes or less and you will, I kid you not, completely forget that you had allergies. It is one of my favorite medicines. When it wears off, take some more. The beauty of stinging nettles (as with all herbal medicines) is that it does not just take care of the symptoms, it heals the problem. So, instead of taking six droppers or more a day like I used to, I may only need it two or three times the whole summer. This is pretty great news for someone who spends the better part of allergy season outdoors.
Stinging nettles are very easy to grow. My friend, Sandy, planted a small container of it for me in the very back of her garden. “Bill will never know,” she says sneakily. Her husband does know now because it took over a good part of the area. Forget about trying to dig it out, even with gloves, the stingers will aim for your face and arms. I will be growing mine in a pot this year. The stings feel like you have a bit of fiber glass stuck in your hand, or splinters. Incidentally, stinging nettle extract applied to the affected area stops the reaction immediately. Always use gloves when working with stinging nettles, even when dried.
How to harvest: Cut twelve inch pieces of stem and leaves off the plant and guide them with the shearers into a paper grocery bag with a few holes punched in it, clearly marked with contents and date. After three weeks the plant will be dried. Use gloves to strip the stems of the leaves, removing the stems from the bag. Crush leaves and transfer to a canning jar to store (clearly marked again!).
How to make into medicine:
Tea- Put two teaspoons of dried leaves into a tea strainer. Pour 12-16 oz. of boiling water over and let steep 4 minutes. You can add honey if you wish. (Note: Oftentimes you may hear that local honey aids in allergies. This is partially myth. The idea is sound and it may help some but not for full blown allergies.) Have a cup of tea upon arrival of symptoms.
Extract– Put 4 heaping tablespoons of nettles into a pint canning jar and fill with vodka or rum. Replace lid and mark clearly. Put in window for three days then on a shelf somewhere for 2-4 weeks. Take a teaspoon as needed. A teaspoon (or three in really bad cases) can be put in a shot glass and filled with orange juice to help with flavor without diluting it too much.
You cannot overdose on stinging nettles (sometimes just called nettles). Stinging nettles is also used to help with liver and gallbladder ailments. Kidneys as well. It is detoxifying and blood cleansing, so therefore good for aiding in the fight against cancer as well as common colds. It is similar to dandelions in healing properties. I like to blend 1 part dandelion, 1 part stinging nettle, and 1 part peppermint for a delicious summer iced tea.
Here’s to an easy allergy season and healing oneself!
(Should you decide you don’t have time to make your own, I do sell mine on my website http://gardenfairyherbal.com