I’m really looking into nettles and their benefits.
One of the most well-recorded uses of stinging nettle, stretching back over 2,000 years, is urtication. Employed by indigenous tribes and many countries worldwide, it involved beating ones limbs with stalks of stinging nettle.
To practitioners, it serves as a cure for painful, arthritic joints. There are conflicting opinions about the true benefit of this practice. Some argue that the sting merely provides a distraction from the pain of arthritis. However, others point to the injection of histamine by the nettle plant.
Once histamine is injected into the body, an anti-histamine reaction occurs, with the body attempting to draw down the inflammation. It is thought that perhaps this reaction by the body also serves to reduce arthritic swelling.
Warriors and hunters of many clans also used the sting of the nettle to keep themselves alert during battle or the hunt (Krohn, 2007).
There are also several documented ceremonial uses of stinging nettle. Several Nevada tribes, for example, burned nettle leaves in sweat lodges. This served two purposes: to act as an offering, and also to treat pneumonia and the flu (Hatfield, 2004).
In addition to being a potent medicine, the Kawaiisu associated nettle with powerful dreams. If individuals wished to have medicine dreams they would walk barefoot through fields of nettle to prepare themselves to enter the dream world (D’Azavedo & Sturtevant, 1986).
Stinging nettle also appears in indigenous folklore, often being associated with coyote, suggesting that nettle is the trickster of the plant world. Nettle folktales also remind the listeners of mans’ foolish decision to label the plant as a weed.