Monthly Archives: May 2009

Finding the Jewel in Challenging Circumstances

In every area of challenge and hardship, there exists an opportunity of equal and opposite proportion to experience huge gifts. Our ability to choose what it is we focus on is the key to the outcome we will experience. With financial uncertainty and shifts in the economy, leading to increased stress and anxiety in many, NOW appears to be the perfect time to focus on developing solid habits which serve our future -cultivating thoughts of health, vitality, abundance, generosity and gratitude.

There are habits for health, happiness, peace of mind and wealth. The key is to investigate and identify those very habits of individuals who have what it is we desire more of, then commit to integrating those routines and ways of being into our own life. If we want a greater state of health for ourselves, then a study of the habits of healthy, vital individuals will lead us closer to our goal. Taking action and incorporating those routines into our daily life will allow us to create a similar level of success.

We become healthy by learning of, reading about, and investigating HEALTH, not by studying and focusing on dis-ease. Focusing on dis-ease only leads to more of the same. Contemplate the physique of an olympic athletewith a strong body, toned body. What habits must these individuals practice daily to reap the benefits of their desired goal? With an olympic athlete focused on the end result -of winning a gold medal, perseverance becomes a daily practice, training is a commitment, there is no putting off of what should be done today. Extreme weather conditions, early mornings and short term inconveniences become secondary (even insignificant) to the strong commitment and desire to attain the goal at hand.

If one is suffering from a physical dis-ease or dis-comfort, then study the actions, habits, eating patterns and routines of an individual who exhibits a healthy state of be-ing (both the body and a healthy state of mind -optimistic & loving). If anxiety is becoming a growing concern, then contemplate, sit with and speak to individuals who are serene, loving and peaceful — to learn skills and mirror a healthier way of be-ing. The poise and serenity of individuals practicing daily meditation is noticeable. Persons who consciously cultivate gratitude and give thanks for those things which bring them joy, peace and contentment possess a pleasant, magnetic and contagious personality, there-in lies a key for learning.

Developing new ways of being, incorporating regular physical exercise into each day, changing ones eating habits, and modifying ones thought patterns are skills which do not happen overnight. Like developing any new habit, it takes time, perseverance and a commitment to change which is stronger than the desire to remain the same. There is a benefit to every state of being, a benefit to change, and a benefit to staying the same. Every change also has its price, it is a personal decision to determine if the cost to change is greater than the cost to remain the same (which is more important) and then decide to pay the price and then commit to do the work to obtain the desired results.

Think back to childhood, learning to write was a learned habit, any new way of being can be considered a learned skill. Learning to write was at time a struggle when beginning to implement, repeat and practice daily the sound habits which months later led to an effortless flow of skilled penmanship ~writing is a skill which will serve us for the rest of our life.

For those desiring financial stability, a focus on developing and practicing qualities which breed success, will win in the end. Hard work, perseverance, creating win-win situations and integrity do create more of the same.

It is up to each one of us to believe in our ability to make a difference.

“Opportunity may be found wherever one really looks for it and nowhere else.” – Napoleon Hill

Stinging Nettle -Urtica dioica

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Spring is the time to harvest nettles, always an adventure in maneuvering between those unassuming young nettle shoots, with leaves so fresh and lush and just so innocent looking in their growth. I remember –an understatement -from experience, the importance of wearing thick gloves, heavy jeans and long socks, socks that cover the ankles entirely, lest the sting of the nettle leaf should find its way the minutest area of open skin creating immediate swelling, tingling and numbness…Nettle Rash…ahhh yes, the joys of harvesting fresh herbs…

Not a pleasant experience, but one which I have embraced through my hands-on work with plant medicine. In my experience, the topical reaction from fresh nettle leaves will last anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days -depending upon the surface area and intensity of the sting. As with all of my personal experiences with plant medicine, this is yet another learning experience and I remember citations from ancient herbal texts traditionally using Nettles leaves to relieve the pain of arthritic joints, a procedure administered by brushing fresh nettle leaves topically over arthritic joints, producing a ‘counter irritation’ to help temporarily eliminate the pain of arthritic joints – would it work? Yes!Would it be pleasant? NO!!

You might ask, why go through the trouble to harvest a plant covered with such unpleasant stinging hairs? Well…overlooking the immediate discomfort of possible (and likely) skin-to-skin contact with fresh nettle leaves.The fresh shoots and stalk, when picked in the spring make a delicious vegetable, that can be steamed like spinach (and seasoned with braggs amino acids or lemon juice) or can simply added into soups, omlettes and quiche. The sting of the hairs is de activated when cooked, steeped as a tea or when dried, thus fresh nettle leaves can be conveniently made into tea and also eaten safely, once cooked. As the plant matures, the older leaves and stalk become very woody and are not as tasty, thus to be ingested as food, the nettle leaves needs to be picked when the leaves and stalk are young, ideally harvested from shoots no larger than one foot out of the ground.

Traditionally Stinging Nettle (Latin: Urtica dioica) is known as a master plant, as the saying goes… “if you don’t know what else to do for a health condition, then use nettles”. Known as an alterative herb, or blood cleanser, Nettle leaf gradually supports the return of optimal health of the whole body, improving the body’s ability to eliminate waste matter, tonifying the tissues and organs, while providing the body with essential nutrients for vitality.

Nettle leaf is a blood purifier which supports the function of the liver and kidneys and provides support for all stubborn skin conditions such as teenage acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema. It combines well with Red Clover, Cleavers and Burdock root for skin ailments or can be purchased, mixed in our Clean Green Herbal Tea Blend used for cleansing and detoxification.

An excellent source of chlorophyll and packed full of minerals including vitamin C, vitamin K,iron, calcium, magnesium and silica. Nettle leaf is an excellent addition to the diet for conditions of anemia and depletion and can be consumed internally as a tonic herb for long periods of time for individuals who are recovering from a long illness.

An anti inflammatory and containing anti histamine properties, nettle is often used in combination with other herbs such for seasonal allergies, to alleviate the itching and irritation of hives and itching skin.

A gentle diuretic and mineral rich anti inflammatory herb, Nettle leaf can offer benefit for symptoms of arthritis and joint pain. Useful for clearing uric acid buildup from the body, Nettle leaves can also be ingested for symptoms of gout.

The root of stinging nettle root is used medicinally for urinary disorders associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), including nocturia, frequency, dysuria, urinary retention, and irritable bladder.

As a topical application, stinging nettle leaf can be brewed as a tea, strained, and then used as a scalp rinse for promoting healthy hair, treating seborrhea, oily hair, and hair loss (alopecia).

A great herb for women’s health, nettle contains properties used to decrease internal bleeding and traditionally is used with Red Raspberry leaf for heavy menstruation, drank as a mineral rich nourishing tea during pregnancy and consumed as a galactagogue (which promotes the flow of breast milk in breastfeeding mothers).

Like most herbal teas, any leftover cold tea can be fed to both house plants or garden plants to help them grow, trust me, they will show their appreciation the next day by showing off their extra shiny leaves.

For a refreshing tea blend, combine nettle leaf with some peppermint leaf and just a pinch of stevia leaves. Steep for 15 minutes, strain and enjoy 3 + cups daily as a general adult dose.

To purchase dried Nettle Leaves click here!

For more reading on the Stinging Nettle plant, visit the HerbMed site and insert ‘Nettles’ into the search engine at the bottom of the page.