Spring Nettles

The arrival of spring brings the gift of new growth and the very gentle but powerful Stinging Nettles — and yes they sting! Stinging Nettles — the native species Urtica dioica subsp. gracilis and her cousin Urtica dioica —  offer medicine, nutrition, and fibre for cordage, linen or even fishing nets that were made here amongst the Coast Salish Peoples. A super nutritive spring green, they are full of vitamins like D, E & K along with the minerals magnesium, potassium, boron, manganese, selenium and iron, to name a few. Stinging Nettles are known to repair the adrenal glands, support the kidneys, are full of antioxidants, purify the blood supporting heart health, build strong bones, help with hair loss, anti-inflammatory, enhance the immune system and are gentle enough and complementary with chemotherapy. As with any plant, if you don’t feel great once you have started taking her medicine, trust your intuition and stop.  There are many benefits and the seeds in the fall are considered a superfood.

There are numerous ways to engage; making tinctures (dried plant infused with alcohol), juicing the fresh nettles, extracting the minerals with apple cider vinegar – helpful with muscle pain. A flower essence helps us stay connected to the Earth and heals our fear of alienation. The roots harvested in the early spring or fall have reported to help with benign prostate hyperplasia. Find a good book or phone app to properly identify any plants. Know when it is best to harvest. Stinging nettles should not be picked while in the flowering stage as cystoliths (crystals) form on the leaf and will cause irritation on the urinary tract. Practice asking permission when you go foraging, bring an offering like tobacco or say a prayer, and harvest only what you need. Lori picks with her bare hands to make sure she follows Nature’s guidance, and spreads the seeds as good stewards do. Reciprocity, responsibility, relationship, and respect make for a regenerative future for our children’s children.

This article does not replace medical advice. Please consider this a sharing of ancient knowledge. Please check with webmd.com for any contraindications when on medication as food and plants can interact or potenize various drugs.

Foodlands board member Lori Snyder is an Indigenous herbalist and educator who shares knowledge of wild, medicinal, and edible plants that grow in everyday spaces. She is an earth keeper of the Medicine Wheel Garden at Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre found on the territorial lands of of the Coast Salish Peoples –  xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. Through Lori’s eyes, our immediate surroundings take on a new life and offer a wealth of untapped nutritional and ecological resources. Through Indigenous ways of knowing and pedagogies, Lori leads people of diverse backgrounds in reconnecting to the Earth’s wisdom.