Stinging Nettles: Creating My Own Herbal Medicine

Stinging Nettles are my first attempt at doing something I've always wanted to do, but lacked time and opportunity -- making my own herbal teas, foods, and medicines. I've used herbs for improving my health for a long time, but never had opportunity to make my own. That has changed in the last year as my time has freed up and I have a son with a farm that grows a wide variety of plants that grow wild. Every week finds me eagerly searching the property for plants that are approaching time for harvest. Below is a sample of my recent handiwork.

Nettles grow in thickets near stream banks, disturbed and rich soils. All parts of the plant are useable. Leaves can be harvested in the spring and early summer; roots in the early spring and late autumn, seeds as they mature. When harvesting nettles, be sure to wear gloves as the hairs on the plant contain formic acid which is where the plant gets the name "stinging" from! If you do get stung, chew up some horsetail, plantain, or dock and apply to the stings or make a paste out of baking soda.

This is the beginning of the picturesque activity known as "garbling": the preparation of herbs for processing.

Here I have separated the leaves from the stems.

After the leaves have been stripped from the biggest of the stems, they are placed on trays for drying.

This is my old workhorse of a dehydrator. It's ancient but it still works well. Unfortumately, you can't buy this model any more.