-- TIMESTAMPS --
00:00 - Introduction to stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)
01:51 - Benefits of stinging nettle for relief from seasonal allergies
03:00 - How to make stinging nettle tea
04:48 - Enhancing the flavor of stinging nettle tea
06:19 - How to get the best benefits from stinging nettle tea
08:45 - How to use stinging nettle for acute seasonal allergies treatment
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Stinging nettle is a powerfully healing herb and stinging nettles tea has so many benefits! In this video I’m going to show you how you can work with stinging nettle specifically for allergies.
Hello! I’m Rosalee de la Forêt, herbalist, teacher, and bestselling herbal author. I’m here to share trusted herbal knowledge so that you can get the best results when using herbs for your health.
And, while you’re here, let me know in the comments below about your experience in drinking nettle tea and working with nettles for allergies. It’s always interesting and insightful to hear the experiences of plant lovers out there. Your suggestion may also help others!
Okay let’s dive in!
Stinging nettle is an herbaceous plant in the Urtica genus. When buying stinging nettles you’ll most often see Urtica dioica for sale.
Nettles are often found growing in damp, nutrient-rich soils in temperate climates. Most species are perennial, and they often grow in patches or clumps.
True to their name, they sting! If you casually brush against the leaves or stems, hollow needle-like projections inject a slightly irritating substance into your skin. This is usually a minor irritation and can actually be therapeutic. Some people with arthritis find that after that initial sting they experience less pain and inflammation in that area!
In this video I am going to focus on how Stinging Nettle Tea benefits someone with seasonal allergies but nettle has so many gifts, as a healing food to powerful herbal medicine that goes beyond allergies.
You can read more about Stinging Nettle in both of my books, Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies that Heal and Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine.
Nettle is commonly used to decrease seasonal allergic responses, such as hay fever. While the exact mechanism of how this works is unknown, some hypothesize that nettle’s natural histamine content may down-regulate the allergic response. A study in 2009 in vitro study concluded that Nettle affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis.1 Nettle has also been shown to decrease inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein, which could also play a role in relieving seasonal allergies.2
In addition, the astringent and drying action of nettle may contribute to the action of reducing a runny nose and overly watery eyes.
I’ve often recommended nettle for people with seasonal allergies and I’ve found the preparation used, dosage, and duration are all important to consider for the best results. In other words, when working with nettle, it’s not as simple as popping a few pills, but the upside is that the results are often more healing in the long term.
My first recommendation is to drink strong stinging nettle teas, sometimes called nourishing infusions, daily in the months leading up to allergy season. I know that drinking a tea every day for months may sound extreme, but this practice often eliminates or strongly decreases allergy symptoms. In my opinion it’s way better to avoid getting allergies in the first place rather than having to constantly address the symptoms.
Here’s how to make this special tea.
Weigh out 1 ounce or 28 grams of dried nettle leaf by weight using a kitchen scale. I like to add a pinch of dried peppermint leaves to this for flavor.
Place the herbs in a quart or liter sized glass jar.
Fill the jar with just-boiled water. Stir well.
Cover and let this steep for 4-8 hours.
Once it’s done steeping you can strain off the leaves which can then be composted. If you aren’t going to drink it immediately after straining, then put it in the refrigerator in the meantime. I recommend drinking this tea within 24-36 hours.
As you can see the color of this tea is going to be very dark! Either a dark green or a greenish brown color, depending on your nettles. This is totally normal! It means that you’ve really extracted all the healing goodies from the nettle leaves. Think of this as your nutrient dense green drink!
If you take your first sip of stinging nettles tea and are not immediately swooning over its flavor, you aren’t alone. I have a couple recommendations to help.
First, is that while many people don’t immediately love the flavor of this tea, many come to love it. It does have a strong grassy or green taste, but that taste isn’t overly bitter. I think people come to love it because their bodies know they are getting so much goodness with each sip. I have heard from countless people that they didn’t like this tea at first but later came to crave it!
As mentioned, the additional peppermint can give this blend an improved taste. You can also try other herbs to improve the flavor. Ginger is another favorite herb you can use.
I personally think this tea tastes best when cold, but you could try it warm or cold and see what you prefer.
My next suggestion may sound a bit odd, but hear me out. Sometimes people want to add honey or sugar to make it taste better, but sweetness isn’t a great flavor combination with nettle for most people. Instead, try adding a small pinch of salt!
If you’ve tried those things but still don’t like the flavor you can make the preparation using half as much stinging nettle. Then, as you get used to the flavor, you can increase the amount you use. Or, you can dilute the tea with additional water so it has less flavor.
I really want to stress that you are going to get the best results with this preparation when you drink it daily for a couple months before your seasonal allergies start. Drinking nettle tea has so many benefits beyond helping to decrease allergy symptoms. People often report that they have higher energy levels and that their hair and skin become radiant after drinking nettle for a while. Nettle is one of those herbs that you may work with for one particular reason, but in the end, it ends up benefiting you in many other areas as well.
Okay, I know you may have a few questions after hearing about this tea.
You might be wondering why you can’t just make a tea with a teaspoon of nettle leaves and steeped for five minutes.
And, you might also be thinking, “But I have allergies now! What can I do now to help relieve these symptoms?”
I’ll get to both of those questions.
First, why the mega tea recipe? Why can’t we just use a small amount of tea and steep it for five minutes?
Stinging nettle is rich in many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These aren’t extracted with a short steeping time. You really need that long extraction to pull those out.
You can experience the difference between a simple stinging nettles tea and a mega infusion by making both and then comparing. The simple tea will have a light color and be lightly flavored. The mega tea will be considerably darker and have a more robust taste. If you want the most benefits from stinging nettles tea, then you’ll want to make the mega infusion. The simple tea is like stinging nettles “lite”. You just aren’t going to get that much out of it.
The other part of this is how much you use. When I first tell students how much nettle to use, which as a reminder is 1 ounce or 28 grams or, less precisely, two large handfuls, they are amazed. They often wonder, “Do you really need all that nettle?”
You can think of it like this. Would you eat one bite of a carrot and call it good?
Of course not! We eat a serving of carrots. Same goes for nettles.
They are a food-like nutrient-dense plant and we need more than a teaspoon to get all those nutrients.
I encourage you to experiment making a simple nettle tea vs. making a strong infusion like I’ve instructed. You’ll instantly know the difference between the two!
Okay, next question I want to answer before sharing some additional allergy resources is about working with stinging nettle for acute allergy symptoms. What I mean by that is how to work with nettles if you have allergies right now and you don’t have the luxury of drinking stinging nettle tea for the months leading up to allergy season.
Stinging nettle can help with acute allergy symptoms but the preparation you use is very important. To be upfront, stinging nettle tea is not your best choice for acute symptoms. Yes, it may help a bit, but there are two other herbal preparations that will most likely give you better results.
The first is to use freeze dried stinging nettle. You can buy this as a powder or in capsules. This is a specially prepared nettle product and not something you can make at home. The amount of freeze dried nettle that you take is individual to you. So you would start with a little, say 1 gram or a teaspoon, and then gradually increase until you find relief. Anywhere from 1-15 grams is common.
Another preparation that can work well for acute allergy relief is fresh nettle tincture. It’s important that this is made with fresh nettle and it should say that on the bottle. Again, the amount you take to find relief is individual to you. I recommend starting at 15 drops every hour and then increasing to as many as 60 drops every hour.
Stinging nettle can help a lot of people with seasonal allergies! But I’ve got to be real with you, it doesn’t help everyone. I love herbal medicine and I love nettles, but they are not a miracle cure that works 100% of the time.
That’s the way it is with herbal medicine. It’s most important to find the herb that works for you, rather than the ONE herb that works for everyone. The truth is, there’s no one herb that works 100% of the time for everyone. If someone tells you that, beware! They are probably just trying to sell you something.
The tips I’ve given you in this video will give you the best starting place to see if nettle is the herb for you. So many people want to turn to nettles for allergy relief but they don’t know how to make the right preparation, or the right dosage and they end up not getting any results. With this information in hand you are set to succeed.
And while nettles are great for seasonal allergies they aren’t the only option available.
If you’d like more tips for natural seasonal allergy relief, then visit this link.
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Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal and co-author of the bestselling book Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and has taught thousands of students through her online courses. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.