I woke early this morning to set out and harvest nettle root from my small but healthy patch of nettles (urtica dioica)
The peak time to harvest roots are early spring while the energy is still residing in the root and pushing upwards for new growth; autumn while the vital energies are pulling back towards the earth to rest over winter; and early morning or late afternoon & evening.
While most of us are familiar with all the benefits of nettle leaf, few pay attention to the remarkable root. Like all mineral rich plants or plant parts, next to eating them or drinking them in an infusion, I like my vinegars. That’s because vinegar (and I mean raw, unpasturized organic apple cider vinegar) is one of the absolute best extraction solvents available. If you are new to making medicinal vinegars, you can read my herbal vinegar post with instructions on “how to” at the bottom of that post here. Alcohol tinctures do not do a good job at extracting these minerals at all, however alcohol does do a good job at extracting many other constituents. Vinegar is also an inexpensive and healthy preservative. I will write an entire post dedicated to the health benefits of vinegar at a later date. Now back to nettle root.
Nettle root nourishes the spleen, thereby powerfully enhancing the immune system and “feeding” the blood. For reasons that have yet to be identified, it decreases inflammation from the body, and is now catching on as a popular new treatment for all issues to do with the prostate. That is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, and even prostate cancer. The root has a powerful affinity to men’s health, and a company has even patented it for male patterned baldness (!).
Once I bring my nettle roots home (and remember to collect at most 1/4 of a plant community so to leave lots to thrive) I wash them well – not peel them – and chop them like carrots, filling a clean glass jar about 1/2 – 1/3 full of roots. There’s no rule around proportion. You can fill your jar to the brim with roots. It’s really a matter of how much root you have, and how intense you want the taste. I do it both ways depending on how much root I collect.
Next I cover with apple cider vinegar. It’s inexpensive to buy, and incredibly easy to make yourself. When I write my post dedicated to apple cider vinegar I’ll go into more detail around how to make it. Basically, you leave juice in a wide mouthed vessel to stand until it turns to vinegar. Seriously that’s it!
Here’s my earthenware crock with vinegar in it. As you can see I go through a lot of it as I like my medicinal vinegars – such practical medicine!
Next cover your herbs with the vinegar
and don’t forget to label your medicines! It’s good practice to include the latin name. Date and location are also important.
Store away from direct light and shake daily for a week. Also important is to admire its beauty, reflect on the miracle of nature, and each time you shake it infuse it with good energy and intention for how you’d like it to help you and your family - that’s the magical art of herbal medicine!
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