I am really excited for this upcoming spring because I will be growing a weed in my garden! Not just any weed, but Stinging Nettles to be exact. I have been doing some extensive research on this plant and I think it will be beneficial not only to my dog, but also to my family and myself. Stinging nettle is famous in the herbal world as a natural anti-histamine as well as an anti-inflammatory. This means, it can not only help the seasonal allergies that run rampant in my family (two-legged and four-legged members), but it will also help my arthritis. But, that is not all.... Stinging Nettle is also considered to be one of those "super foods". It contains:
For harvesting Stinging Nettle, it is recommended that you wear gloves, long pants and cut them with scissors, because of the stinging part (which is on the underside of the leaves). BUT, some people purposely sting themselves to help with joint pain. There are two phases of harvesting that should be noted:
Eating Fresh Nettle: You must harvest when the plants are still young. If you wait until they have matured and flowered, it's too late for fresh eating --> Mature plants contain cystoliths that can irritate the kidneys. To get rid of the "sting" in order to eat them fresh, you must steam, saute, freeze, can (like spinach) or boil them. You can use the left-over water from boiling and steaming as a tea to drink or as a rinse for your dog's fur. This rinse is very beneficial for alleviating itchy skin caused by rashes, flea bites, ect...
OK, I have a bunch of mature, flowery Nettles. Now what do I do? You can dry them! The process of drying the plant destroys the cystoliths. Now it will not wreak havoc on your kidneys. Gather up your nettles and dry them by tying a string around the bottom of a bunch and hang them upside down to dry. Once dry, you can use the dried leaves as tea by seeping 1 TBSP/ cup of boiled water. Again, this can be drank or used as a skin rinse. You can also add 1/2 tsp per lb of dog weight to your furry friend's food.
A word of caution: Stinging Nettles is haemostatic. This means it stops bleeding. If your dog (or human) has blood thinning or thickening problems, it's best to talk to your veterinarian (or doctor) before eating Stinging Nettles. In addition, do not feed your dog (or human) stinging nettles if suffering from a bacterial infection, being treated for diabetes, high-blood pressure or on NSAIDS.
For more information on Stinging Nettles, please visit these websites:
- Benefits of Nettle for Dogs, Natural Dog Health Remedies: http://www.natural-dog-health-remedies.com/benefits-of-nettle.html
- Stinging Nettle, Wild Foods and Medicines: http://wildfoodsandmedicines.com/nettle-restorative-food-purifying-medicine-guardian/
- Stinging Nettle, Art of Awareness: http://www.artofawareness.ca/journal/2016/5/14/stinging-nettle
- DIY Natural, Herbal Treatments for Dogs with Environmental Allergies - Honey, Mullien, Nettle, Rooibos, Ottawa Calley Dog Whisperer: http://ottawavalleydogwhisperer.blogspot.com/2013/04/diy-natural-herbal-treatments-for-dogs.htm