Sunday, May 5, 2013

Nettle Vinegar To Combat Allergies

I don't know about you, but I and many people I know are suffering with seasonal allergies right now.  Pollen counts are high and bits of cotton float off the cottonwood trees, making some of us downright miserable.  First the eyes get itchy and red, then the throat gets tight and scratchy and last but not least the respiratory system jumps on the bandwagon to make breathing difficult and creating a dry cough that upsets the mucus membranes in your throat and just generally wears you out.  It may seem ironic that even though plants are causing me grief they are the first thing I look to when I want to relieve symptoms fast without taking prescriptions or even over the counter Diphenhydramine (Benadryl).  In the case of allergies the plant that soars among the rest for allergy relief is Stinging Nettle.  Instead of drinking Nettle tea every day, which can be a hassle when you work or just have a busy schedule, its easy to make a nice Nettle vinegar that you can take daily in a tablespoon with warm water to greatly relieve your allergy symptoms.

If you know you are prone to seasonal allergies it is a good idea to start dosing yourself with Nettle a good 4 to 6 weeks before Spring.  This will help prevent the onset of symptoms and should help ease the severity of symptoms if and when they hit.  Nettle is not only good for allergies but it is a powerhouse of nutrition, boasting so many vitamins and minerals they are too many to count here.  Preserving Nettle in vinegar is a tasty way to get in not only your medicine but a multivitamin too!

Making the Nettle vinegar is easy.  In fact its dummy proof!  It is a fun project to do with your children, especially if you can harvest fresh Nettle from your own yard or other organic source of Nettle.  The most important rule in harvesting Nettle is to wear gloves.  Nettle has small hairs under it's leaves that are actually like small needles, injecting a painful dose of "venom" (for lack of a  better word) that will leave a stinging rash on your hands.  Thus the nickname Stinging Nettle.  Believe it or not, some people (me included!) purposely sting themselves with Nettle in order to reduce inflammation in painful joints.  But that is a whole other story that deserves its own blog.  For now, just beware of the stinging leaves when you harvest Nettle and you will be fine.

To make a good medicinal vinegar you will need a large amount of fresh leaves, enough to fill a quart sized mason jar when all chopped up.  After you've filled your mason jar with the chopped nettle pour in enough organic apple cider vinegar to cover the Nettle and fill the jar.  Shake your mixture vigorously and place it in a cool place in your kitchen away from direct sunlight.  Shake it several times daily for 2 to 4 weeks.  After 2 weeks you can do a taste test to determine if the flavor is palatable to you.  The longer you infuse the Nettle in vinegar the better medicine you will get from it, but for some Nettle is an acquired taste.  Once you've determined that your vinegar is done you simply strain it and pour it into a bottle or jar with a tight fitting cork or lid.

When I strain my vinegar I line a strainer with cheesecloth and place it over a large measuring cup.  After I have strained the vinegar I pour it into a jar and let it sit for a few hours, allowing any leftover herbal material to settle on the bottom.  Pour the vinegar back into the measuring cup and pour out the sediment at the bottom.  Now pour your clean, filtered vinegar back into the jar and you have a lovely Nettle vinegar you can take daily by the tablespoon.  Your vinegar will make a great marinade, salad dressing or just plain medicine.

If you don't have access to fresh Nettle you can use dried Nettle which can be purchased at Mountain Rose Herbs, a wonderful provider of herbs and herbal products online.  You can visit and buy products at Mountain Rose Herbs via the banner on my homepage.  When making vinegar with dried Nettle you will only want to fill the mason jar 1/2 to 3/4 full when you pour in the apple cider vinegar.  Dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh herbs, therefore you don't need to use as much.

Now that you know how to do it I challenge you to make your own Nettle vinegar.  If you don't suffer from seasonal allergies I'll bet you know someone who does.  If you have access to organic or wild Nettle, be a hero and share this wonderful cure with friends and relatives!

I would love to hear about your own experience with Nettles!

No comments: