Thanks for the well wishes for my test this morning! I could feel the love when I woke up at 5 to make coffee and prep. Much appreciated.

Remember a month or so ago, when I posted 13 natural remedies for seasonal allergies? You guys helped me so much in compiling that list, and had great feedback to offer in general about allergy management. Thank you! The great irony is that I wrote that post just as spring became summer, and the worst of my seasonal allergies seem to be over. Phew! This said, I still wake up with symptoms sometimes, and one of the annoying consequences of moving to DC has been that my allergies when I go home to NYC seem worse, so I continue to take all of the great advice we collected to heart.

Since I wrote that post, I’ve been taking a quercetin supplement. But perhaps the most important chance I’ve made is to start drinking stinging nettle infusions. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is used in herbal medicine for a variety of conditions, including anemia and osteoarthritis, but it’s possibly most well known for its capacity to aid with allergies and hay fever. Why? Because nettle may be a natural antihistimine, in addition to its many other beneficial properties. For more on stinging nettle, you can check out this helpful link from UMD.

My stinging nettle education, such as it is, has come from my friend Melanie St. Ours, who is a local herbalist and massage therapist. When I wrote my allergy post, Melanie had the following helpful advice to offer me (and my readers) about nettles:

I’d like to offer some clarity about the nettles. I make a distinction between therapeutic doses of nettle and recreational doses. (Recreational doses = a light little pleasant-tasting tea…nothing psychotropic. Nettles aren’t *that* kind of herbal medicine!) If you want the benefits of nettles, which are uber-attractive since they offer a boatload of minerals and make every cell in your body practically sing with gratitude, you’ve gotta go with an infusion. It’s dark, green, and strong. It tastes delicious. You can *taste* the minerals. (Don’t let this put you off the idea of nettle infusion, but there is a strange way that nettle infusions remind me of drinking dairy milk, which I haven’t done in so many years that I can’t remember the last time I had it. I think it must have to do with the high calcium content of both beverages. Try it and see if it reminds you of the same thing.)

Here’s how:

1 oz of dried nettles
1 quart of boiling water (from teakettle)

Put nettles in a mason jar. Cover with boiling water and let sit for at least 4 hours. I let mine sit overnight for convenience. Strain, drink, and be grateful to nature.

If you have this kind of dose every day along with supplemental quercitin (the dose you need to have much of an anti-allergy effect is much larger than you can get from food–though you should certainly still eat these foods anyway) you’ll have a fighting chance at staving off your allergic woes without OTC meds. The neti pot is great—just don’t use it if you’re prone to fungal sinus infections.

My clients who get nettle infusions as part of their protocols regularly tell me that their hair grows faster, gets thicker & shinier, and that their nails are stronger and less prone to breakage. I really believe this effect comes from the profound nourishment from the minerals that so many people are grossly deficient in. There’s also something so pleasantly tough about nettles. It’s a scrappy little plant that imparts a tenacious energy to its human friends. I highly recommend getting to know it.

(I like to source my nettles in bulk from Mountain Rose Herbs. Don’t bother with teabags. Trust me.)

It was delicious happenstance that I had lunch with Melanie only two weeks later, and she brought me a gift: my own little bag of nettle leaves from Mountain Rose Herbs! I was delighted and so grateful: healing gifts are the best gifts. It took me a while (I spend some nights at the library, and on others I’m so distracted with studying that I forget to make time for myself), but earlier this week, I tried my first nettle infusion, following Melanie’s instructions above precisely. Success!


As you can see, the infusion (before straining) is very dark green indeed! It looks and smells powerful.


And this is the strained drink. As you can see, it’s still incredibly dark green!  The taste is kind of amazing: a mixture of earthy and sweet, and very hard to describe. Melanie likened it to cow’s milk, which freaked me out a little at first (I’ve never liked the taste of cow’s milk, and in fact, didn’t care for cold cereal as a child because I didn’t like the milk at the bottom of the bowl!), but now that I’ve tasted the stuff, I know what she was getting at. The taste isn’t like cow’s milk at all, but the smooth richness of it is. It feels nourishing and elemental.

I’ve no way of knowing yet whether steady and consistent nettle infusions will aid with allergies (especially in autumn and spring, when mine tend to flare up), but I am so delighted to become acquainted with this herb, and to explore its benefits. For all of my acquaintance with holistic medicine, I’m actually quite ignorant when it comes to herbalism, so I welcome this and other chances to expand my knowledge base and explore the science and logic behind traditional remedies.

If you’re an allergy sufferer or would like to explore the rich mineral supplies and potentially antihistimine properties of a nettle infusion, I encourage you to try infusions in your own home! They’re cost-effective and very easy. Again, instructions are:

Homemade Nettle Infusion (courtesy of Melanie St. Ours)

1 oz of dried nettles
1 quart of boiling water (from teakettle)

Put nettles in a mason jar. Cover with boiling water and let sit for at least 4 hours. I let mine sit overnight for convenience. Strain and drink.

Happy straining, all! Have a great night.


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