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Nettle in Ayurveda

21 June International Day of Yoga

International Day of Yoga is celebrated annually on 21st June. It is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. This 5000-year practise was introduced to the West in the late 1800s, and has gained popularity over the last decade. Today, over 300 million people practice yoga across the globe, although studies show that 50% of all yoga practitioners are of Indian origin.

Yoga brings numerous mental and physical health benefits and promotes mindfulness. It is a holistic approach to health and well-being, it helps create harmony between man and nature. Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice.

Yoga and Ayurveda are two interrelated branches of the same great tree of Vedic knowledge, a yogic system of medicine not simply in terms of asana or physical therapy, but also in regards to internal medicine or diet, herbs, and drugs. This holistic yogic system of medicine not simply for treating the physical body but also for treating the mind, emotions, and psychological disorders.

Ancient nettle knowledge

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is used in Ayurvedic treatment to cure various ailments. Nowadays, nettle has drawn a lot of attention, and plenty of research is being done on it. Due to its immense health potential, the popularity of stinging nettle is rising.

In Ayurvedic herbalism, nettle is considered cooling and pungent with an astringent taste. It is best aligned with Pitta energy, helping to gently cool and clear overheated conditions. From an Ayurvedic perspective, nettle is an excellent nourishing tonic and rejuvenative, particularly for the kidneys and adrenals. They increase ojas (the subtle essence of all vital fluids in your body), and are particularly good when run down from stress or illness or needing extra nourishment. 

Nettle tops have been used throughout history in food and drinks as a nourishing and detoxifying spring tonic. Nettle stimulates the action of the liver and the kidneys, thereby helping to clear aama (undigested food or other unmetabolized waste) from the body via the bowels and the urinary tract. According to Ayurveda, aama blocks the body’s channels and organs, preventing the body from absorbing essential nutrients. That’s why detoxification is so important to our health!

Milarepa is one of the most famous saints of Tibetan Buddhism. He is generally considered one of Tibet’s most famous yogis and poets. Traditionally depicted wearing white cotton, his skin was a said to be a slight greenish hue from a constant diet of nettle soup.

Mild astringency and general nourishing action of nettle, tightens and strengthens blood vessels, helps maintain arterial elasticity and improves venous resilience. By reducing excess Pitta in the blood, nettle helps clear inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. The herb also helps keep Kapha levels in check, improving overall vitality. Its carminative properties relieve intestinal gas, and its capacity to promote peristalsis is helpful for some common Vata-related intestinal problems. But taken in high doses can cause excess Vata. Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend taking nettle to stop diarrhea.

But the short and long for it is, yoga and nettle can help us find balance in our body, mind and soul.

Namaste!

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Nettle in the Sushi

18 June International Sushi Day

International Sushi Day celebrates this potentially delicious meal and seeks to raise awareness about the truths and fictions surrounding it. Sushi had changed from a way to preserve fish to a new form of cuisine. But this wasn’t the last stage in the food’s evolution.

It was in between 1600 and 1800 AD in Japan, that the traditional form of sushi we know today came to exist. At this point it was unique to Japanese culture and consisted of fish and vegetables wrapped in rice, that was mixed with vinegar. This form of sushi had regional variations, but the basic idea is still one of the most popular forms of sushi today.

Making your own sushi is always fun, isn’t it? It is not going to taste anywhere near the standard of a proper sushi chef, but worth a try. Enjoy Sushi Day with your friends today!

Nettle and algae are a combination of elemental force. It is not common at all, using nettle in sushi, but sounds like a promising experiment.

Let’s see how to make an easy sushi inspired nettle-nori superfood…

Ingredients:

  • 200 g cashew
  • 300 ml water
  • a small bunch of parsley
  • 3 tbsp dried nettle seed
  • 1-2 tsp tamari
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 nori plate
  • 1-2 tsp tamari or wasabi to taste

Preparation:

  1. Soak cashew nuts in water for 2 to 3 hours, drain and rinse. Put them in a blender with parsley, nettle seeds, tamari and salt and process until creamy.
  2. Spread the mixture evenly on a nori plate. Place a second sheet of algae on top and press lightly (and evenly) with a board. Put the whole thing in the dehydrator and let it dry for 8 hours or overnight at 42 ° C.
  3. Then cut it even to rhombus shape and serve with tamari or wasabi as a sophisticated nettle superfood snack.
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Wellness with Nettle Chips

12 June 2021 Global Wellness Day

With the slogan “One day can change your whole life“, we celebrate Global Wellness Day on the second Saturday of June every year as an international day. 

All of us would like to be healthier, to look better, and to live well both physically and spiritually. Living well is almost the entire world’s shared dream.

Today is about adopting nutrition, exercise, and healthy living by eating healthy, sleeping on time, and spending more time with loved ones. Wellness and healthy living is everything. Without good health, happiness, and peace, there is no point living and nothing really matters if we don’t have these key aspects of life in place or in our control.

Healthy food comes from natural ingredients. Today, try to cook your own meal. Try to go outside in nature, take a walk in the forest or by the river. Breath! Pay attention to herbs, as they are nature’s gift to us to restore and maintain our health. Illness takes a long time to develop, so medicinal plants take a long time as well to cure the illness. Be patient and give your body and soul a pause to relaxation and healing from everyday rush and stress.

Use nettle to clean your system and charge your batteries. Slow down a bit, have a cup of tea and enjoy the moment you spend with your family and friends. Let nettle tea detoxify your blood, clean your veins, upload you with lots of useful minerals like iron, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin K and other nutrients.

Fresh or processed nettle is recommended as a high-protein, low-calorie source of essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. Let’s try the easiest and most delicious Nettle Chips recipe!

Nettle Chips Recipe

1. Preheat your oven to its hottest setting, around 220˚C.

2. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Arrange the nettle leaves in a single layer and lightly spray them with olive oil. Turn the leaves over and spray the other side, then put the tray into the oven for 3-5 minutes, until the leaves are crisp, bright green and slightly translucent.

3. Season with salt and pepper, and eat.

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Nettle in a Cheese?

In order to preserve milk, it needs to be transformed  into cheese. This process involves coagulating milk and draining off excess liquid. Humans realised the usefulness of this technique very early on and began to produce curd cheese in the 5th millennium B.C. Hard, cooked-curd cheeses appeared in the late Middle Ages. There are thousands of types of cheese in the world today.

Did you know that nettle leaves serve as a preservative in cheese making?

In the United Kingdom, cheesemakers use stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) as a natural preservative. Cornish Yarg cheese is a semi-hard cheese made in Cornwall with a distinctive rind made by wrapping the cheese in nettle leaves. The earliest recipe dates back to the 13th century. “Yarg” is simply “Gray” spelt backwards. It is named after Alan and Jenny Gray, enterprising farmers who found a 1615 recipe for a nettle-wrapped semi-hard cheese in their attic. Today, the cheese is produced at Lynher Dairies Cheese Company on Pengreep Farm, by Catherine Mead.

Cornish Yarg wins international awards every year. Leaf-wrapped Yarg takes about 4-5 weeks to mature, by which time a beautiful white bloom appears on the nettles.

Made from grass rich Cornish milk, Cornish Yarg is tangy under its natural rind and slightly crumbly in the core. The nettle leaves, which attract naturally occurring moulds, are brushed onto the cheese in concentric circles. As the cheese matures, the edible wrap imparts a delicate, mushroomy taste and develops its unique bloomy white appearance.

And finally an English cheese joke:

“What would be a Cornish pirate’s favourite cheese?”/”Yarrrrg.”

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Did you know that Nettle can help you quit smoking?

31 May World No Tobacco Day

This yearly celebration informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco and paying awareness to the non-smoker population whose health is also in danger because of smokers. WHO (World Health Organization) is fighting the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. Claim your right to healthy living and let’s protect future generations!

This is especially important these days as studies show that smokers have a higher risk for a severe case of coronavirus. WHO calls on all young people to join the fight to become a tobacco-free generation.

Smoking is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. Many smokers look to natural remedies to help them quit, but not all of them are effective or actually safe for you to use.

Nettle in cigarettes?

There are over 1500 plants that have been documented for use as smoke. Some people may find it helpful to use herbal smoking blends when they are lessening their dependence on tobacco. For some, smoking is also often a ritualistic part of the day.

Herbal cigarettes have received increasing attention as a non-smoking aid, sales of herbal cigarettes are increasing. Research shows that herbal cigarettes compared with regular cigarettes can be just as harmful in terms of the carcinogens they carry. When you breathe in the smoke of a herbal cigarette, you’re breathing those harmful toxins – tar, carbon monoxide, and other toxins – directly into your lungs.

Herbal cigarettes are also used in acting scenes by performers who are non-smokers, or where anti-smoking legislation prohibits the use of tobacco in public spaces.

Dried nettle leaves are used mixed with tobacco to flavour it in regular cigarettes. Nettle is also a widely used herb ingredient in the increasingly popular herbal smoking blends.

If you want to do the best for your own and your loved ones’ health, use nettle in a tea or cook a delicious meal with it. 

Nettle tea to help you quit?

There are some “Quit Smoking Herbal Tea” available on the market. Most of them contain nettle leaf, mullein, oatstraw, peppermint and black pepper essential oil, which is scientifically proven to help with the craving for nicotine when the oil is inhaled.

Stop smoking, you can do that!

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Nettle for Biodiversity

22 May International Day for Biological Diversity

Every single creature on our planet is connected to another one. Or more. It’s a complicated connection net between species, as an ecological interdependence. Nettle supports over 100 species of insects, including butterflies and moths as a food source (see the list here).   Sir David Attenborough has called on gardeners to plant a wild flower meadow and cultivate a nettle patch to help butterflies struggling to survive the wet summer in the UK.

Nettle is among the major sources of green plant material consumed in the field by the snails. They all know that nettle is tasty and full of nutrients. The presence of stinging fibers on nettle act as a defense against many grazing animals, creating a comfortable habitat for our beneficial friends, some of whom are pollinators. The community of organisms depending on nettle is very large. Just think of all the predatory insects, spiders, amphibians and birds which take advantage of this feast. Luckily, thanks to our predators, there are no notable pest problems on nettle – neither in the wild nor in cultivated nettle. Everyone does their job in the right way. That’s biodiversity.

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Nettle Hummus?

A super nutritious dip, spread, or savory dish that is packed with plant-based protein, HUMMUS. It’s not only delicious, hummus is a great source of dietary fiber, which can improve digestive health. 

13th May International Hummus Day

The basic ingredient is chickpea, which is one of the earliest legumes ever cultivated. The chickpea dates back more than 10,000 years in Turkey. Tahini, the sesame paste that is vital to hummus is mentioned in 13th-Century Arabic cookbooks. Hummus is the word for chickpea in Arabic. We are not sure who invented hummus, but it became a symbol of all the tension in the Middle East.

There is an eclectic, touching documentary film about the delicious superfood sweeping across America: Hummus the Movie (2015). The movie is about secret recipes, a Guinness World Record and the power of hummus to bring Muslims, Christians and Jews together in the Middle East, America and around the world.

The cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, lemon juice, and garlic is the classic way to make hummus. It is naturally free of common food allergens and irritants, such as gluten, nuts and dairy, which means it can be enjoyed by most people. There are a million other ingredients you can use to boost the traditional recipe depending on the season and your creativity. Nettle is one of the extra seasoning that makes hummus more nutritious and lovable.

Nettle Hummus Recipe:

  •  1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
  •  4 cups of fresh nettle tops and leaves 
  •  ½ a lemon
  •  2 tablespoons of tahini
  •  1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (in early spring, you can add wild garlic as well)
  •  2 tablespoons of olive oil
  •  1 teaspoon of salt & pepper

Boil a pot of water and place the nettle in it for 30 seconds, then drain (you can drink the nettle tea). Put the nettle in a blender with the lemon juice, garlic and salt & pepper. Blend for about 30 seconds. Add in olive oil, tahini and rinsed chickpeas and blend for a minute or so. You can add more or less of the ingredients to taste or to achieve your desired consistency.

Enjoy with some crackers, carrots & celery!

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Heal your Garden with Nettle

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a perennial plant that is incredibly nutritious for both plants and humans. Most people are not really happy when they realise nettle is about to take over their favourite flower and vegetables beds. Because of its creeping roots, to get rid of nettle is a challenging garden job.

But I suggest you turn this mean, stinging weed to your garden’s best friend. You can use it to help your compost or as a natural fertilizer for your plants.

Chopped nettles act as a natural activator and speed up the decomposition process in compost heaps.

The nutrients in nettle fertilizer (nettle manure) are those same nutrients the plant contains which are beneficial to the human body such as many minerals, flavonoids, essential amino acids, proteins and vitamins. A nettle leaf plant food will have: chlorophyll, N, Fe, K, Cu, Zn, Mg, Ca. These nutrients, along with Vitamins A, B1, B5, C, D, E, and K, combine together to create a tonic and immune builder for the garden.

There is a quick method and a long range method for making nettle fertilizer. Either method requires nettles, obviously which can either be picked freshly or dried.

Quick method: For the quick method, steep a handful of nettles in a bowl of boiling water for 20 minutes, then strain the leaves and stems out and toss in the compost heap. Dilute the fertilizer 1:10 and it’s ready for use. Spray this nettle tea on your plants. It helps them to grow strongly, which means they become less attractive to pests. This quick method will give a subtler, non-smelly result than the following method.

Long range method: Fill a bucket with the leaves and stems. Weight down the nettles with a brick or stone, and then cover with water. Only fill three-quarters of the bucket with water to allow room for the foam that will be created during the brewing process. If you can, use rain water, and set the bucket in a semi-sunny area, preferably away from the house since the process will likely be smelly. Leave the mix for one to three weeks to ferment, stirring every couple of days until it stops bubbling.

Finally, strain out the nettles and dilute the concoction at one part fertilizer to 10 parts water for watering plants or 1:20 for direct foliar application. It can be added to the compost bin to stimulate decomposition as well. 

When using nettles as fertilizer, remember that this fertilizer works best on leafy plants and heavy feeders. Start with low concentrations and move on from there.

This nettle manure plant food is easy to make and your plants will be happy about it if you use it wisely.

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Nettle Colour at Your Fingertips

2nd May 2021 Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day on this Sunday, 2nd May. You still have time to create something nice for your Mom with your own two hands. Let’s handcrafting with nettle!

Did you know that nettle is one of the most beautiful natural colouring plants? It is widely used for centuries as nettle leaves make a lovely green dye thanks to its chlorophyll content. Today, some creative minded people rediscovered this use of nettle and became professional botanical dyers

Here is an example of dying fabric with nettle. First, try it with a small piece of cotton or linen fabric (or a white handkerchief) to explore how it works, later you might use it bravely dying your favourite clothes as well.

Use separate equipment from your usual kitchen equipment.

1. Place nettles in a large aluminium pot and fill it with just enough water to cover the nettles.

2. Place the dye pot on the stove and heat very gently. As the leaves soften, push them down below the water level. Stop heating once the water reaches simmering point.

3. Check your colour regularly, if you want a deeper colour heat the dye again. Monitor the colour over the next day and observe the colour change of the liquid. It goes from yellow to green to dark grey-green.

4. Strain out the leaves when you are happy with the colour of your dye.

5. Pour the dye back into your aluminium dye pot and heat gently for a few minutes. Now the leaves aren’t in the dye, you might choose to use a slightly higher heat. Over the next few hours observe the dye further darken in colour.

6. Add in some extra water to raise the level so there’s more space for your fabric to move about.

7. When you’re happy with the dye colour, add in your fabric then heat gently and stir with a spoon to help it dye evenly. Simmer the fabric and ensure it’s submerged under the dye at all times.

8. Allow to soak for as long as you like, and reheat a couple of times if you feel it needs it. Stir the fabric whenever you pass, just to move things about so it dyes evenly.

9. After a day or so, take the fabric out, squeeze out the excess dye and allow it to hang to dry. Wait a few days before rinsing out the excess dye.

Then, if you want, iron your grey-green fabric for fixing this gentle colour you’ve worked so hard.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Evolution of Nettle

Charles Darwin

12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882 

Today is the anniversary of the death of Charles Darwin, English naturalist, geologist and biologist. Darwin’s scientific theory of evolution by natural selection became the foundation of modern evolutionary studies.  A pleasant country gentleman, Darwin at first shocked religious Victorian society by suggesting that animals and humans shared a common ancestry.  His theory contradicted the Book of Genesis. He realised that species adapt to their environments.

By the stinging hairs, nettle protects itself from grazing animals. Scientists discovered the changed morphological characteristics of the Japanese nettle (Urtica thunbergiana), due to heavy browsing by sika deer. In Nara Park, Japan, where a large population of sika deer has been maintained for more than 1,200 years, wild nettles exhibited smaller leaf area, 11–223 times more stinging hairs per leaf, and 58–630-times higher stinging hair densities than those of other areas where there was no evidence of sika deer browsing. 

Nettle adapts to the environment and grazing damage by growing more stinging weapons as a protection. It just takes a “little” time.