Podcast 081: Friends of Nettle (Herbal Formulas in Pairs)

Boston’s homegrown local herb conference, Herbstalk, is next weekend, and the plant of the year is stinging nettle! In honor of this, we wanted to make an episode focusing on this keystone plant. In this episode we share some of our favorite ways to make simple nettle herbal formulas, starting by pairing it with a single other herb to make a tasty tea.

Nettle has a number of important medicinal effects. It’s a nutritive, a diuretic, an anti-inflammatory, and so much more. Pairing it with other herbs is a way to emphasize specific aspects of its medicine. For instance, nettle and rosehips are each nourishing herbs, and when taken together they cover more bases than either one could do alone. This is one of the basic goals of herbal formulation: to selectively enhance a particular facet of the herbs’ activity.

Other times, the goal in herbal formulation is a matter of counterbalance. Nettle is a very drying herb, and for some constitutions it’s not a good match. But what if you still want its nutritive and kidney-supportive benefits? Well, pair it with linden or cinnamon! This kind of formulation intent is also very common, and again, it’s best to start with a simple pair to experience and understand this strategy.

Herbs discussed include nettle, tulsi, ginger, linden, rosehips, cinnamon, & calendula.

Want to learn more?

If this episode makes you want to learn even more about the wonders of nettle, you’re in luck – we’ve put together a mini-course All About Nettles! This course includes more than an hour of video content about how to work with Nettles, three different ways to make nourishing infusions of Nettles, and a close-up video herb walk that shows you each phase of Nettle’s growth so that you can identify it in the wild. There are printable quick guides, recipes, reference articles, and audio files so you can listen & learn on the go! This mini-course is only $10, so get it now to get yourself in the spirit and ready for Herbstalk 2019!

All About Nettles mini-course banner

Episode Transcript

Katja (00:13):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:15):
and I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:15):
and we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:19):
and on the internet everywhere. Thanks to the power of the podcast.

Katja (00:22):

Ryn (00:24):
Here we are on May 24th.

Katja (00:27):
Here we are, I want to talk about Nettles today.

Ryn (00:32):
Yeah its time.

Katja (00:32):
And you guys, I will just go ahead and admit it. I’m not wild about the flavor of Nettles. I know that a lot of herbalists think that Nettles are just totally delicious, but I find the flavor kind of dull. Don’t throw things at me. I just do.

Ryn (00:50):
They’re wonderful. So deep and green and grassy.

Katja (00:54):
See. I understand.

Ryn (00:58):
How delightful.

Katja (00:58):
This is such an important and nourishing plant and all of that green is actually super important. Like the green itself is nourishing all that chlorophyll content. So anyway, I don’t let my feelings about the flavor stand in the way of drinking Nettle infusions regularly. I just blend it up with other herbs that I do love. And now I have a tea that tastes good and is good for me. So whether you love Nettles, green and grassy flavor or whether you not so much. I thought that we could share some of our favorite Nettle blends with you. And if Nettle has been a challenging tea for you to drink either from the flavor or maybe from the drying aspect, the astringency, then you might like some of these blends. And if Nettle is your favorite thing ever, then you might find that some of these blends makes it even more favorite.

Ryn (01:56):
It could be. Wouldn’t that be great?

Katja (01:59):

Ryn (02:00):
So that’s our topic today. But first let’s do our claimer.

Katja (02:05):
Our claimer.

Ryn (02:06):
We are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.

Katja (02:10):
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice, no state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States. So these discussions are for educational purposes only. Everybody’s body is different. So the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you, but hopefully they’ll give you some information to think about and research more.

Ryn (02:30):
We just want to remind you that good health is your own personal responsibility. The final decision when you’re considering any course of therapy, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by your physician is always yours.

Katja (02:42):
You know, I just want a tiny little tangent here because I am remembering that one of our students in the online program was writing about the idea of the responsibility of personal, like your personal responsibility for your health and felt that the word responsibility was a little heavy. And I feel really, I have a, really positive relationship with the word responsibility. At least I have positive associations with it. I might take it a little, a little too far sometimes, but I, it’s a word that I like, but she had suggested a couple of other words like bodily autonomy or self-determination, like as concepts there that might be a little more comfortable for someone for whom the word responsibility has a negative resonance. And then I was looking at what you had written back to her saying that, you know, sometimes the word responsibility has kind of a bad rap in our culture right now, but that it doesn’t need to, like we could, we could reform those ideas.

Ryn (03:53):
Yeah. It can be a little fraught. It can be a little, you know, in some cases paternalistic to be like, you need to take responsibility for yourself, Buster.

Katja (04:03):

Ryn (04:03):
You know, and that’s not really what we have in mind here. We tried to bring this stuff forward cause if we get past that initial discomfort of talking about like putting on this mental, this responsibility for yourself, then once you do that, it becomes a freedom. It becomes, it becomes a power. Right. And that’s, that’s what we’re really trying to get to.

Katja (04:25):
Yeah. I kind of feel like a responsibility and a right, like those words are very intertwined. Like, I kind of, I don’t know. Yeah, I see responsibility almost tied in with like, my own upbringing, ideas about adulthood and like, Oh well that’s something you get to have when you’re an adult. And like as you get more advanced, you’re allowed to have more responsibilities. And I know that not everybody has those kinds of associations with that word, but for me I do and they do feel positive. But I really liked your, your thoughts about even if they don’t initially ring positive to you like that we can, we can intentionally move to reclaim the positivity of that idea.

Ryn (05:19):
Yeah. That’s what we try to do every week with our claimer or reclaimer maybe.

Katja (05:24):
Oh, that’s even better. Yes. Our reclaimer.

Ryn (05:29):
Don’t call it a disclaimer.

Katja (05:29):
No, no, no, no. Yeah. That’s awesome. Anyway, I just wanted to make a little tangent on that cause I saw that you had written that response and I thought it was really, really lovely.

Ryn (05:41):
Well, I thank you. All right. Well there were a lot of shout outs this week and that was great. We love it when you all interact with us and leave comments and reviews and it really makes a difference and helps us reach more people and we love each and every one of you who did that. even when

Ryn (05:58):
we forget to write down your names,

Katja (06:00):
I’m sorry that was on me, you guys. I’ve been so behind on my emails and this week I decided that no matter what I was going to catch up and it’s Friday morning and I am 90%, maybe even like 96% caught up on my emails. But as a result, I did not copy over any of the shout outs into the file that I normally do. But just please know that all of you guys who wrote things about the pod or all of you guys who wrote anything to me in these past couple of weeks that I so appreciate it. And every time that you guys write in and say that something was helpful for you, it just totally makes us feel like, it makes us feel good, but it also really like reinforces the concept of community that we’re not just talking to a microphone in our living room with our dog and our cats and our birds and the breeze blowing through the trees. And like, it’s, it really is that we’re talking to you and when you write and tell us that it’s pretty awesome. So yeah, I didn’t write it all down this week, but it like, it just made every email so nice to,

Ryn (07:20):
Yeah. we’re into it. So thanks.

Katja (07:23):
So shout out to you. Yes. You, you right now who are sitting in there thinking, well, she doesn’t mean me. I actually, I mean you.

Ryn (07:33):
All right, let’s get to it then. So I’m here in Boston next weekend. June 1st and second Saturday and Sunday is our local homegrown herb conference.

Katja (07:47):

Ryn (07:48):
Herbstalk. It’s the best.

Katja (07:50):
It’s really exciting.

Ryn (07:51):
If you don’t know about Herbstalk already, you should check it out over at Herbstalk.org.

Katja (07:57):
Yes, Herbstalk, like the stalk of a plant. Herbstalk.org.

New Speaker (07:59):

Ryn (08:03):
You could even think Herb’s talk.

Katja (08:07):
Oh, nice.

Ryn (08:08):
The secret pun of Herbstalk. It’s been there the whole time.

Katja (08:12):
Yes. Herbs talk.

Ryn (08:14):
This conference has been going on for about eight. What are we, eight, nine,

Katja (08:18):
One of those. 8 or 9.

Ryn (08:18):
One of those. One of those lucky numbers basically. And for that long, and every year there is a plant of the year.

Katja (08:27):
Yes. And this year’s plant of the year is Nettles.

Ryn (08:31):
Finally. I mean, you know,

Katja (08:34):
Every plant of the year we’ve been like woohoo!

Ryn (08:36):
There’s been Calendula. And there’s been Marshmallow.

Katja (08:39):

Ryn (08:39):
And there’s Rose, Dandelion.

Katja (08:42):
Every year, we’re like this is great.

Ryn (08:43):
Yeah. All right. Well.

Katja (08:44):
But this year is Nettles.

Ryn (08:46):
Nettles. It’s time.

Katja (08:48):
So to help you and to help us get into the spirit of Herbstalk, we have a whole episode about how to get your Nettle on. Also because of the conference, there is not going to be a new episode next week. Unless we really have our act together, and we secret surprise actually do record one, but I think we will take the week off.

Ryn (09:14):
It’s more likely, slightly more likely.

Katja (09:17):
Yeah. But if you are local or really not local but at all within driving distance, we definitely recommend that you come and check it out. And see us, it’s really fun.

Ryn (09:30):
Yeah. There’s a marketplace that’s with free admission. You can just walk right in a wander around and check out all of the cool stuff that people have to offer. Handmade, herbal goodness for everybody. We often get a lot of our holiday shopping done early.

Katja (09:42):

Ryn (09:43):
Pretty great. Yeah. And then if you want to take classes then, I think each day passes just $20 and there’s a ton of great stuff on offer, so yeah, if you are around, come check it out.

Nettle & Tulsi

Katja (09:54):
Yes. But even if you’re not around, let’s share some of our favorite Nettle blends and we really need to kick it right off with Nettle and Tulsi. And Tulsi is sometimes called Holy Basil. Oh, what a good blend. It’s one of my favorites. Nettle is one of my very favorite plants for working with adrenal fatigue and also just general burnout. Nettle has really deep nourishing support for the kidneys and the kidneys feed the adrenal glands. So when you are nourishing your kidneys, you are also providing nourishment to your adrenal glands. And that’s really one of my favorite like first line responses to someone who’s feeling really burnt out or really adrenal depleted or just chronically exhausted. That is one of my first and favorite ways to address it is just buckets of Nettle. When you blend in the Tulsi, you really get a very targeted effect.

Katja (11:08):
That is really, really powerful because Tulsi is having a more specific action on the endocrine system, the adrenal, the entire endocrine system. But the adrenal glands in particular, it is a gentle adaptogen, so it’s not like Ginseng where suddenly you’ll be just bursting with energy, but it’s kind of like caffeine, like it’ll wear off. It is a building adaptogen that is going to restore what’s been used up over the course of a period of stress or over a period of sleep debt or illness. It helps to restore that. It also really helps a lot with sort of general hormonal balance in the body. And whenever you say hormone balance, people are always prone to think like estrogen and progesterone levels or testosterone levels. And that’s actually not what I’m talking about at all. I mean the big hormones like insulin and adrenaline and cortisol.

Katja (12:15):
And I find that working in that area, working on the big hormones you get the benefit in the reproductive hormones kind of for free because if you can work out problems with the larger sort of more, I say, more important, I’m really prone to saying that. And I say that because you know, if your insulin is wrong, then you’ll die pretty fast. And if your estrogen is wrong, it’s just really annoying and uncomfortable. But it, but of course, all the hormones are equally important. I love all my hormones equally. But if you get at those big, you know, like daily cycle hormones, then the longer monthly cycle hormones are going to also improve just in the mix. But Tulsi really has that ability to improve the way that the body handles sugar in the diet to improve the way that insulin is functioning, to improve the way that we make use of cortisol. And those things are all super, super beneficial. So, so this is a blend that can really help address whether you are just a new parent and you’re not getting tons of sleep, whether you are a student and you are working like crazy to get ready for exams. Really whether you’re basically anyone in this productivity oriented society.

Ryn (13:49):
Yeah, yeah.

Katja (13:49):
Yeah I just feel like this blend is restoring things that get used up in today’s lifestyles.

Ryn (14:02):
Yeah. Really nice combo. And you know, Tulsi has a nice light aromatic flavor to it. It’s just a really delicious, pleasant herb to taste. And so you put that together with your Nettles and now you have something that’s going to appeal to a lot more folks.

Katja (14:18):
Yeah. Plus Tulsi it gives you that mood boost and really can improve the way that your brain can process emotions and experiences too. So not only are you getting all that nourishing benefit and a good flavor, I’m just getting a little pep.

Ryn (14:36):
Yeah. Pretty great.

Nettle & Ginger

Ryn (14:39):
All right. So another option here would be to put Nettle together with Ginger. So in this case you’re going to be having a very strong warming herbs with the Ginger coming and that’s nice cause Nettles on its own is a pretty cooling plant. So if you were somebody that runs on the cold side constitutionally, but you wanted to get Nettles into your life and you were craving some of that nutrients, mineral content and maybe a little kidney activation, but you were worried about, you know, getting too chilled out overall. Then this is a great way to solve that issue. So Ginger, you know, it’s tasty, it’s warming, really great if we’re trying to keep that blood moving around, get some more of that circulatory activity into play there. And it’s also going to build on the anti-inflammatory effect you get from Nettles.

Ryn (15:33):
Now these two are herbs, are resulting in an ultimate anti-inflammatory end result or end effect, but they do it in really different ways. You know Nettle has the mineral content first of all and that can help reduce inflammation more by just providing some materials your body needs in order to run these processes efficiently. Nettle also has some anti-inflammatory compounds that are cooling and a bit on the drying side. I’m thinking here of quercitin for example, which is an element that can help reduce histamine expressions and where a histamine expression is going to be hot and moist. You know, they think of like red, itchy eyes that tear up, or your nose that gets all inflamed and snotty. Quercitin is kind of counteracting those on the energetic pattern, you know, being cooling and drying. And that’s the overall effect Nettle has too.

Ryn (16:35):
But that is a notable anti-inflammatory quality that the herbs carries. And then of course there is that chlorophyll content, like you said before. Chlorophyll is a totally underappreciated, phytochemical you know, it’s not one of these high powered alkaloids sort of thing where you, if you were to take a whole milligram at a time, that’d be an incredible amount. You know, with chlorophyll, with chlorophyll, you’re ingesting gram amounts daily, I hope, right from all your green leafy veggies and your Kale and your Collards and your Spinach and your Dandelion greens and maybe your Lamb’s quarters and your Nettle.

Katja (17:13):
And your Nettle.

Ryn (17:13):
Right. There you’re getting your chlorophyll into your life. And that’s really a fantastic anti-inflammatory as long as you’re getting it in substantial amounts, you know. So this is something that quantity really does count. So, you know, those are some of the ways, certainly not all of the ways that Nettle can exert this overall anti-inflammatory action.

Speaker 3 (17:35):
But Ginger is going to do that in a really different set of ways. Beause Ginger is warming and Ginger helps you to digest your food more thoroughly. And Hey, I’m digested. Food is a short path to central inflammation station, you know, so we want to keep that from coming into play. and then, you know, Ginger, it’s,aromatic elements, it’s pungent, flavored constituents. Those to reduce inflammation. They do that directly by operating on some of your pro inflammatory prostaglandins and just think you know, chemical signaling messengers inside the body. So Ginger does interface with some of those in a way that reduces the overall inflammatory expression. And then of course it’s a circulatory stimulant and keeping blood flowing, keeping blood moving is a good way to prevent spots of inflammation from persisting and keep fresh fluids coming through, turning things over, clearing out the wastes, bringing in fresh nutrients and new blood and everything. And that’s a great way to disperse those areas of irritation and prevent them from just burning and burning. So

Katja (18:48):
Especially if you’re a, sorry, especially if you’re a person who tends towards stagnation when things just sort of sit and fester. You know, that’s an inflammation cause also.

Ryn (19:03):
So you know, this is that kind of example where if we look at the single term anti-inflammatory that we could apply to both of these herbs, then we might say, okay, well I’ve got my anti-inflammatory box all checked off. I guess I’m taking care of, which is one of these. But when you put the two of them together, you really get a, Oh, we’d call it a synergistic effect, right? It’s, it’s more than just one, one action added to more of the same action. You have multiple routes to the same end effect.

Katja (19:36):
Like a broad spectrum anti-inflammatory. Excellent.

Ryn (19:43):
Nettle and Ginger.

Nettle & Linden

Katja (19:45):
Well, if you are a person who finds Nettle just a little bit drying, then having Nettle every day might be uncomfortable in your body. Some people find that astringency actually quite comforting, but for some people it isn’t. So in that case, adding something that has some demulcent actions of moistening action is a very good idea. And I would like to propose Linden, for that effect. Linden is a moistening nervous system supporting herb. And this again, this is another blend that can really help sustain you through stressful times. Anytime that you are describing your state as fried or frazzled. Then Linden is, kind of a sure bet for you because when we say that like, Ugh, I’m so fried. Just even the image in your mind is like your nerve cells are just all frayed.

Katja (20:58):
Like they have split ends, like your hair can get some times and that’s actually basically exactly what’s happening. And Linden helps to smooth that over. So when we’re providing that deep care for the kidneys and that moistening action for the whole body but really targeted to the nervous system, it is so helpful in periods of stress. But I also want to add to this that, it’s important to remember how intertwined the kidneys are with our emotional state. You see this in a lot of, other cultures, sort of traditional systems that, that they will match up kidneys with emotions and in the Western culture. Maybe it’s not quite so overt, but, uh, but it’s definitely there. And whether we recognize it or not, like it’s still there. We don’t have to recognize something for it to be true. Um, so that is like that tie in to that, to that emotional state when the kidneys are weak, when they are undernourished, when they are really being pushed to work harder than they have the resources to do, then that, that leads also to feeling that way emotionally. Like even if you just think about that, like I’m being pushed to work harder than the resources that I have available. That’s just, that idea does not feel good. And, and saying that I can think about what my body feels like when I am in that situation, but I also can think about what my emotions feel like when I’m in that situation. And, um, this can be a really, this can be something that comes up a lot with PMS. You know, if you are a person who gets PMs and has that tendency towards that low back kidney pain, when it happens. And also the sort of like, like easy to fall into that kind of weepy place or, or, kind of depleted emotional place then that’s, that’s the kind of tie I’m talking about here. And Nettle and Linden are just going to be super, super supporting in that time.

Ryn (23:29):
Yeah. Nice. Okay. Another option here, we could put Nettles together with Rose hips. Rose hips are of course extremely high in vitamin C and they bring that together with what are called bioflavonoids. And sometimes we talk about these as buffering agents for the vitamin C. sometimes we talk about them as synergistic agents with the vitamin C and essentially what they do is help you to absorb that more efficiently and with some sort of helpers that, um, make it even more effective at what it does for you. So vitamin C of course is pretty critical, pretty, pretty important for humans. You know, for lots of reasons. You may be aware that vitamin C is involved in the growth of collagen, which is critical to all of your connective tissues and, um, helps to hold things together in your body. Um, you know, when people have vitamin C deficiency and it’s real bad. They get what you call scurvy. And one of the symptoms for that is that your teeth get loose and start to fall out because the connective tissue holding them in place is starting to degrade. So, you know, with Rose hips, you’re getting the nutrients that are gonna help to, uh, help you hold yourself together. And, so, you know, they’re, they’re doing that and at the same time they’re also really potent antioxidants. You know, that’s, that’s really part of the function there is to, is to contain and to, to counteract, um, nascent inflammation that might be leading to a breakdown of tissue. So, um, with vitamin C you’ve got, or I’m sorry, with Rose hips, you’ve got your vitamin C, you’ve got your bioflavonoids, you’ve got your antioxidant power coming through there. And then again, if we mix that up with the Nettle with that mineral content, with that chlorophyll, it’s kind of like you’re mixing your, your greens and your reds together. What does that give you?

Katja (25:35):
Well, Brown actually.

Ryn (25:40):
Some kind of brown color I suppose. Well, maybe that’s not so exciting, but this is exciting. Yeah, this is nutritionally exciting. Let’s just call it green and red instead of brown tea. But, yeah, so that’s gonna cover a lot of bases. And with that like tangy, sour flavor, it’s going to be pretty appealing. You can add a little bit of honey to it if you want. No problem. Now you’ve got something, a lot of folks are gonna like, including tiny humans who, you know, you’ve got to feed them occasionally.

Katja (26:11):
Yes. You have to do that.

Ryn (26:13):
This seems to be a thing people are into I guess. But yeah. You know, a lot of times people are lamenting and being like, I can’t get my kids to drink any herbal tea. And oftentimes we say, start with throwing in a whole big pile of Rose hips. Give it some of that more appealing color and a tasty flavor. Give that a try. See what happens. I don’t know, maybe you mix it with a little fizzy water. Maybe you have a little touch of honey and into the play there.

Katja (26:42):
That’s all right. There’s nothing wrong with a little honey in your tea. It’s all right.

Ryn (26:44):
Good stuff.

Katja (26:46):
This is like a multivitamin, but it’s so bioavailable. It’s so absorbable

Ryn (26:53):
I mean, this would also, yeah, this would also be a really effective post-workout recovery drink, right? You’re replenishing a whole store of electrolytes. You know, when we talk about Nettle as a salty herbs, the phrase electrolyte rich would also make sense in that, in that descriptor there, right? Mineral salts are your electrolytes. They are the things that you need to replenish after you’ve really pushed yourself and had an intense workout and burn through a lot of your own, your own stores of those things. You want to, you want to bring that back in. You don’t need Gatorade for it, you know, lots of sugar in that water there. But you can drink some nice long infused and that’ll end Rose hips, tea. Get in some of those nutrients you need. Keep that inflammation in its effective but not overwrought place. Bring everything in that your body really needs to, to replenish, restore, recover, and to grow stronger than you were yesterday.

Katja (27:48):
Yeah. Go out to do your gardening for the day, set up your Nettle and Rose hips first and then when you come in all hot and sweaty, you know, and like your back is like, Oh, I guess I lifted more soil than I thought, you know? Yeah. Now you’ve got this.

Ryn (28:06):
Drink that up. Have a nice rest. Find somebody to trade back rubs. Now we’re talking. This one we actually would make a really good a ice drink as well. Yeah.

Katja (28:20):
Plus if you are pregnant, this would be a really, really great option. Just so, so nutrient rich.

Ryn (28:27):
Yeah, for sure.

Nettle & Cinnamon

Katja (28:30):
Well, I want to cast a vote for Nettle and Cinnamon together.

Ryn (28:34):
You got super hyped about Cinnamon sometime in this last year. It suddenly became like your new thing.

Katja (28:42):
Well, part of it is because one of our local students, Ashley, started drinking daily cold infusions of Cinnamon. And it was right at a same time when I was really struggling with sugar and trying to get my cravings for sugar under control. And she walked in one day and she was like, Oh, I don’t even want sugar anymore. This is great. And I was like, I’m doing that too now. And I just, like sometimes you forget that you have friends to help you in your struggles with sugar or anything else. And Cinnamon is such a good helper with that. And I am so grateful that Ashley was like, oh this is great, I’m drinking all this Cinnamon. And I was like, right, I should be doing that. So, yes, this is my deal with your sugar habit blend. It tastes great. It does have some moistening action. And both Cinnamon and Nettle have effects that are beneficial for people who have been succumbing to the sugar cravings. Cinnamon has a real strong blood sugar regulating, assistant effect. And there have been some really interesting studies. I think that we’ve referenced that study that was done in Pakistan before because it’s really one of my favorite studies on Cinnamon. And you can find it if you just Google Cinnamon, blood sugar or add Pakistan or Cinnamon diabetes and Pakistan, that’s enough to bring this study up. It was really well done and they were looking at the effects of Cinnamon on blood sugar regulation in people with type two diabetes. Now if you want to do that, you will need to pay very close attention. If you’re medicated, you’ll need to pay very close attention to your glucose levels because it is so effective that it might change your dose requirements for the medication that you’re taking. But if you’re not medicated or if you’re medicated and you’re paying very close attention, this is so, so effective. And I really credit Cinnamon, with this round of getting off of sugar. Like it has been so helpful to me to just say, Oh, right, I don’t actually want that all the time. It’s so delicious. It’s sweet on its own. But it really, really just puts those cravings to bed and I’m so grateful. The other reason that this is a very beneficial blend for people who’ve been eating a bunch of sugar is that when you do have a lot of sugar, your kidneys take a hit because your kidneys will absorb all of the extra sugar that they possibly can. When your insulin is not like doing enough. No, it’s not enough to get the job done. Your blood sugar levels really need to stay in a particular range for your body to be healthy. And if there’s so much sugar that the insulin that you have available is not able to really keep you in that range, or if you’re starting to get kind of insulin resistant, your kidneys will suck up as much of the extra sugar as they possibly can and pass it out of your body through the urine. Which is why you end up with sugar in your pee. And that is a lot of work. It’s it’s like a real workout for your kidneys to do that. So if you have been in a phase lately where you’ve just been eating all of the sugar, no judgment because I’ve been in phase lately too. And I’m really excited to finally be on the other side of it. But it’s so good to just give your kidneys that support and that nourishment and also the acknowledgement of like, Hey, kidneys. You know, it’s been a rough time for a while. There’ve been a lot of brownies involved. I’m so grateful to you for all the work that you’ve been doing to keep me going through that. And now I’m going to give you lots of Nettle. I’m going to give you lots of Cinnamon. I’m going to cut back on the sugar and thanks for getting me through that. It’s good to thank your organs sometimes.

Ryn (33:19):
Yeah. And you know, look, there’s reasons to drink Nettle with Cinnamon, even if you don’t have blood sugar regulation trouble. You know, here we have a nice warming herbs, but also Cinnamon is a moistening herb, especially with long infusions where the water has a chance to cool down. So, you know, maybe you are somebody who wants to work with Nettles, but again, you don’t want to get too cold, you don’t want to get too dry. And so you put in your Cinnamon, warming, moistening plant. Balance that right out. Now this is going to be much more sustainable. That could also be relevant if you live in an environment that is really drying, right? Maybe you want to work with Nettles, but you live in, I don’t know, Taos, New Mexico or something like this. Then you’re going to definitely want to become combining your Nettles with, you know, your Linden or your Cinnamon. Or even the Rose hips actually will add a bit of a moistening quality. So you just want to find some corrigent, a corrective herb to mix in there to match your constitution or your environment. That’s an important step when you’re formulating.

Nettle & Calendula

Ryn (35:00):
Okay. Maybe this is our last one, maybe. We’re going to talk about Nettle with Calendula. Now both of these herbs are going to be drying. They’re both herbs that move, stuck fluids and stir up, you know, your stagnant pools and get all that stuff moving again. But Hey, sometimes you need that. Sometimes you want that, whether it’s because you have a constitution that’s prone to dampness and prone to stagnation with the fluids. More of your, you know, Kapha type or phlegmatic type depending on which kind of tradition you like to explore. Certainly there’s other names for this around the world. Like your salty blood type from Southern folk medicine could work with these. But with Nettles plus Calendula, you’re really digging deep. You’re really getting in there and saying, all right, let’s get these waters flowing. Let’s get this river moving again. Yeah, that’s a good effect.

Katja (35:21):
This can be really super helpful if you get the kind of PMS that comes along with a lot of water retention. Then you’re getting that kidney support. You’re getting that lymphatic support and you’re getting all that extra water just kind of squeezed out and it can make that part of your period just so much less uncomfortable. I’m not sure I want to go all the way to more comfortable, but so much less uncomfortable. Well, there you go.

Long Infusion Preparation

Ryn (36:00):
Yeah. What else to say? I mean, really like the other reason you might want to work with something like that is if you really are just in a state where you’re a little bit stuck, right? Maybe it’s not like you’re this way all the time, but just right now there’s some food bloating. There’s some stagnant water in the system. You want to get it going again. Sometimes that’s the reaction you get after food. You know, you eat something that you have an intolerance to or you’re allergic to. You can get some food bloating, especially around the belly. And Calendula is really great for clearing that out. So yeah, again, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re this way all the time, but if it’s what you’re observing in the moment, then this would be a really solid remedy to try to counteract that. Okay. Now with all of these pairs that we’ve been talking about here, when we prepare this, we have in mind a long infusion or an overnight infusion or some folks call it a nourishing infusion, I’ve even seen super infusion. So the idea here is a short infusion is like what happens when you’ve got a teabag, right? You put the herb in the cup, you pour the hot water on, you sort of hang around waiting for it to get cool enough to drink. And then you burn your tongue a few times cause it wasn’t quite there yet, but you were so excited about having tea. This happens to everybody, right? Not just me being impatient. So a long infusion is where you’re going to put the herbs in. You’re going to pour the water on, but then you’re going to steep it a good long time. So we do this in a jar or sometimes in a French press, but usually something we can close and seal up tight. And a Mason jar is really good for this, you know. So with one of these ones we’ve been describing here so far, you could take a couple tablespoons of the mixed herbs or a tablespoon or so of each plant. Pour them in there and then pour on that boiling water and close the jar up. And then we like to let it infuse overnight, you know? Or if you start early in the morning, then give it about six, eight hours, somewhere in that range. At least four hours is going to get you pretty good, but longer it’s a bit better.

Katja (38:17):
You’ll see it actually. You know, like when you first pour it in and then you look at it at like 15 minutes, which would be like a regular short infusion, you’ll see the color of the tea. And then when you look at it six or eight hours later, the color will be drastically different. And it’ll get so dark that maybe you can’t even see through it anymore. And I was actually drinking just some plain Nettle infusion the other day. I didn’t even mix it with anything. I was sneezing like crazy. I was like, ah, just put the Nettles in there. I don’t even care. And so I was drinking that and somebody really thought I was drinking black coffee. I was like, no, you taste it. It’s Nettle, I promise. They’re like, no, it can’t be that dark. It’s gotta be coffee. And I’m like, it’s really not. It’s really Nettle. So, you’ll see the difference when you let it sit there for a long time.

Ryn (39:11):
Yeah. And you know, the reason we want to prepare our infusions that way is because with Nettles, we really do want to extract all of that mineral content or as much as we can. And in order for that to be released or to dissolve out of the plant’s matter matrix, it does need a good long period of contact with the water. So with the Nettles, we almost always are going to be making those long infusions. The other option or the other reason here is that with some of the herbs we’re combining with the Nettle, we want to allow the water to be hot initially, but then to cool and to allow some time for cool water to be in contact with the plant. So especially with our demulcent herbs like the Cinnamon and Linden, in order for their moistening, demulcent, slimacious, mucilaginous qualities to come out, they do need a period of time in which they’re in contact with cold water. So when we do the overnight infusion, you can get that first, you know, heat dependent extraction coming on in the first moments. And you know, it stays hot for awhile, but then as it cools and remains cool for a couple of hours, then you have time to allow the most aspects to come out as well. And so you get the best of both worlds. Pretty great. Yeah. If you’re working with a kind of plant, a kind of friend of Nettle here that doesn’t require that cold water exposure, there’s another method that you can use, or actually two others that you can use to work with Nettle. And that would be either to do your long infusion in a thermos, like a press pot, or even just a good strong thermos that you can seal things into. You can pour your herbs in your hot water into that. Seal it up and now it’s going to complete this infusion a little bit faster because it stays hotter while it’s in there. So especially for like mineral extraction or you know, mineral and vitamin extractions, then you’re going to be all right doing that in a thermos. And it will happen a bit faster if you do it in there. So that’s one option. We do that with a press pot, or folks call it an air pot. So that’s like a vacuum sealed, thermos thing with a lever on top. You press it down and the tea comes right out. So you can do your Nettle infusions in there. And then another option would be what we call Mr. Long infusion. And so that’s a mr coffee dispenser thing where you put the herbs into the glass carafe, not into the little basket up top. You do that with coffee because you kind of just need enough time for the water to percolate through the coffee grounds. And by the time it comes out, it’s already extracted.

Katja (42:09):
Well, if all you want is the caffeine,

Ryn (42:11):
Well, yeah, okay. That’s what you’re mainly focused on. That’s true. But you know, with an herb infusion, what you do is you put the herbs down in the carafe, in the glass bit. And then you allow the hot water to drip down onto them. And then you leave them in there, keep them on the hot plate. And so kind of like with the closed thermos, you’re getting more heat contact with the herb over the first few hours. And so that will complete the extraction process a bit more quickly. The only drawback here again, is that you’re not going to get that cold water exposure period. And so this won’t draw out your muscilagens. But Mr. Long infusion can be a nice way to work with it.

Formulating in Pairs

Katja (42:50):
Yeah. Yeah. Well, as you go through this list that we have had, you’ll see that all these blends are pairs. And pairs are one of our favorite ways to sort of start formulating. Kind of like the most basic kind of formula is just to get two friends and put them together. And it’s sort of like, you know, there’s not a lot of things that you have to juggle when you’re just starting to formulate with pairs. It’s not as complex and there’s fewer kind of like moving parts to think through. It makes it a little easier to start, but it’s also really powerful.

Ryn (43:37):
Yeah. You know, we kind of lept right in and didn’t really talk too much about Nettle independently, you know, and say like, okay, here’s all the, here’s all the ways to work with Nettle. And here’s all of its attributes and everything. We kind of jumped right into combining it with friends and that is one way to think about or to work with plants in two herb formulas. To say that, all right, if I’m focused on the nutritive aspects of Nettle. And that’s really just what I am turning to this herb for, then yeah, it makes sense to go with something like Rose hips, which is another deep nutritive plants. Right? But if I’m focused on the effects Nettle has to help regulate blood sugar, then maybe I want to pair it with another herb that regulates blood sugar, like Cinnamon or like Tulsi. So I can enhance that side of it’s aspect. If I’m thinking about Nettle as an antiinflammatory herb for general purposes of keeping that corralled in my body, then I can find another good strong anti-inflammatory herb with a different mechanism of that action. Like Ginger. Pair it up that way. And now that’s the side of Nettle that I’m drawing on. You know, we didn’t even have in the sets an example of another good strong diuretic or like kidney focused herbs. But if I combine Nettles with say, Dandelion leaf, then that’s the aspect of Nettles’ medicine potential that we’re emphasizing. And so the choice of herb that you combine your herb with, is a way to select among its many actions and activities and qualities and say, that’s what I want to enhance. And that’s what I want to emphasize in this particular blend. So pair based formulas is a really, clear way to see that as your intention and to experience that when you go ahead and make that drink. And take that in for awhile. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (45:38):
Also, when you are looking at pairs, you can kind of do an opposites thing as well. If you’re looking at Nettle this case and you’re saying, I really want to work with Nettle but it’s not a solid match with my constitution because I already run dry. Then you can add in a pair that, you know, like a second plant that’s going to help counteract that. So in this case it can be like a balancing factor that comes in. So I want all these benefits from the Nettles, but I also want to balance out the drying effect it’s going to have on me. I’m going to choose one of those demulcent herbs. Yeah. You can even make those demulcent choices based on what you’re trying to emphasize. Like we were saying with Cinnamon, if you’re trying to emphasize the blood sugar regulation and recovery aspect of Nettles, then choosing Cinnamon really helps with that. Versus if you’re trying to emphasize the stress survival aspect of Nettles, then Linden and one that we didn’t mention, Marshmallow root. If you are really wanting to draw on the kidney action of Nettles, then the marshmallow root would be a really great choice there.

Ryn (47:04):
Yeah. That’s a nice kidney soothing herb.

Katja (47:07):
Yeah. But you still get that balancing effect from all these moistening herbs. But each one of these has its own specific actions as well. So you’re pairing it and you’re getting, like in the case with the Marshmallow, you’re getting the bonus kidney activity. So you’re drawing on that action in the Nettles, but you’re also getting the moistening action so that you’re like counter or like balancing that out. Yeah. It’s only two plants, but it can still be pretty complex.

Ryn (47:37):
Yeah, absolutely. And look, there’s nothing stopping you from having more than two plants. Actually all of the herbs that we named today, these major ones, right? So with the Tulsi, Ginger, Linden, Rose hips, Cinnamon, Calendula. I mean you could put all of those together with Nettles. That actually would be a pretty nice, well-rounded formula. Or you can pick and choose and say, all right, yeah, I’ve got a little blood sugar regulation trouble. I’m going to make sure I get some Cinnamon in there. I have some stress, you know, both Tulsi and Linden feel pretty good for me. So I’m going to put all of those together with my Nettles and I’m going to have that be my daily drink. I’m going to make sure and get at least a quart of that every single day and see what I feel like in a month. And I bet you it’ll be different. Yeah.

Katja (48:24):
Well if you want to know more about herbal formulation, you can check out the Fundamentals of Formulation course at commonwealthherbs.com/learn and learn all about formulating simple and complex formulas.

Ryn (48:43):
Yeah. And if you want to learn even more about Nettles, then first of all you should definitely show up at Herbstalk, because there’s going to be a whole bunch of different classes focused on that plant. Our offering to this efforts is our course All About Nettles! You can find it by going to Commonwealthherbs.com/Nettles that will get you right over there. It’s got more than an hour of video about how to work with Nettles. It’s got three different ways to make nourishing infusions. We’ve got a cool little closeup video herb walk that shows you all the different phases of Nettles growth so you can learn to identify it at any time of the year. Work with all the different parts of the plant. Man, it’s pretty great and it’s only 10 bucks.

Katja (49:29):
Yeah, there’s printable quick guides, there’s recipes, reference articles, there’s audio files so that you can take it on the go if you want to. So get yourself in the spirit of Nettles and check out that course. It is Commonwealthherbs.com/Nettles.

Ryn (49:52):
All right, well that’s it for us this week. We’ll be back next time. Like we said up at the top. We’re going to be taking next weekend off of the podcasts, so don’t despair. We will return after that with some brand new goodness for you. All right. Until then, be well, drink lots of tea, get outside. And if you encounter a Nettle, maybe get a little bit of a sting just as in that way to say Hi.

Katja (50:17):
Yes, I definitely recommend it. I do.

Ryn (50:22):
And we’ll see you later.

Katja (50:23):
Bye. Bye.


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