Words On Wellness: Chickweed and Nettle

 “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb”, a proverb that endures as a brain whisper for many of us as we enter this month.  Some other March sayings include: A dry March and a wet May fills barns and bays with corn and hay or March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers (which seems to hold true on the coast). Clearly March proves itself a changeable month with warm days switching to cold hail, rains and back again. It’s likely the ‘lion and lamb’ story appeals to a desire for balance and endurance.  In this county, March begins with baby lambs - bright white puffs of delight on green pasture, despite the weather and sometimes we end the month with roaring winds, one never knows.  What we can count on is an abundance of two herbs that help balance the lion and lamb in our own bodies: chickweed and nettle.

     Chickweed (Stellaria media) is low curly sprout with tiny white star-flowers that likes path edges and open yet sheltered wet areas. This herb, hugely popular in the 1800’s, was tucked into Victorian gardens and eaten by the leisure class in fancy salads and sandwiches (lambs like it too).  It’s easy to add to tacos (like a sprout) or salads, or used for fresh tea.  Chickweed tames the lion of inflammation in our body by cooling things down and mobilizing fluids and lymph, while providing alkalizing minerals.  As an external poultice to skin, it treats eczema, acne, rosacea and burns, so used in healing salves.  It also soothes the sting of nettle.

     Nettle (Urtica dioica.) looks like punk-rocker mint with its spikey hairs along every stem and leaf that sting when you brush against them.  The leaf, root and seed of this plant all nourish the lamb in us – especially the one that follows long days of work and is worried about the rest of the flock.  Nettle tops are cut before the plant flowers and can be dried for tea or cooked like spinach into quiche, empanadas, soups or stews.  It is a powerhouse of minerals and trace protein for building the adrenal glands, strengthening kidneys or helping reduce seasonal allergies that April may bring! 

A Wilder Time: Notes From a Geologist at the Edge of the Greenland Ice, a book by William E. Glassley (review)

Desert Island Files