Thanks to all those students who participated in our first herb walk of the season. A couple of plants we spoke about that are ready for your enjoyment are Dandelion leaves, Good King Henry, and Stinging Nettle. As promised please find recipe for the stinging nettle smoothie, we made a variation to this recipe last night:) It was really delicious!
Stinging Nettle Smoothie
Herbalists use nettle both as a highly nourishing food and as medicine. It’s used for both women’s and men’s reproductive health, to restore energy levels, detoxify the body (by supporting elimination organs), relieve allergies, and strengthen bones, hair, nails and teeth. It might be easier to discuss what nettle doesn’t do!
Stinging nettle is a powerful source of many different nutrients. It is a notable source for calcium, manganese, magnesium, vitamin K, carotenoids, and protein.3 Herbalists specifically use these nutrient-dense qualities to restore health in a variety of ways. Because of its mineral content, nettle is a favorite for strengthening bones, hair, nails, and teeth. It’s high in nutrients needed for a strong integumentary system, such as calcium and magnesium. It’s often combined with oatstraw (Avena sativa) for addressing osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Nettle Smoothie Recipe:
Minty and sweet, yet packed with nutrition, this is a green smoothie recipe that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. Don’t have access to fresh nettle? You can substitute 1/2 cup of dried nettle leaves instead (be sure to pick out any small stems). When I tried this, I soaked the dried nettle in the coconut water for 30 minutes. I prefer using fresh nettle as the dried version was a bit chewier, but it was still enjoyable.
1 cup fresh nettle 1 cup kale
1 large banana 1 apple
2 cups coconut water (or substitute apple juice)
1/2 avocado 1/4 cup mint
We also spoke about the active constituents of plants and some of you requested the information. Please find below.
The active constituents of plants have only relatively recently been isolated. The active constituents in plants are the chemicals that have a medicinal effect on the body. They have been divided into 16 main groups:
These plants contain a nitrogen-bearing molecule that makes them particularly effect as medicines. An example is Deadly Nightshade. (goldenseal, oriental poppy, coffee, marijauana) Profound and pronounced physiological and pharmacology effect.
Blackberries contain anthocyanins. These plants maintain blood vessel health.
Plants like Chinese Rhubarb that have this active ingredient, stimulate the large intestine, causing contractions and bowel movement.
These plants can be recognised by their disagreeable, astringent or acrid taste. The active ingredient stimulates the flow of saliva and gastric juices, thereby improving appetite and digestive function. Examples are Wormwood and Devil’s Claw.
This powerful constituent is found in plants like Foxgloves. They have a strong direct action on the heart and support and strengthen the rate of contraction. Significantly diuretic, these plants help lower blood pressure.
Coumarins are multi-tasking constituents that thin the blood, relax smooth muscle and can act as a sunscreen all at once. You can find this active constituent in plants like Celery.
These active constituents are found in Elder plants, amongst others. They have a sedative and relaxing effect on the heart and muscles.
Flavonoids are found in lemons and are anti-inflammatory, but also maintain healthy circulation.
When plants like Radish, which contain Glucosilinates, are applied as a soft, moist mass onto painful joints, they increase blood flow to the area. This aids in healing as it helps remove the build-up of waste products.
Mineral-rich herbs like Dandelion, can act as mineral supplements in their own right.
This constituent soothes inflammation and stops irritation and acidity, by lining the mucous membranes of the digestive tract. You can find mucilaginous ingredients in herbs like the Slippery Elm.
If taken internally, phenol-rich plants such as Thyme, are antiseptic and can reduce inflammation. But if used externally on the skin, these plants can have an irritant effect.
There are two types of this constituent, namely steroidal saponins and triterpenoid saponins. The latter are strong expectorants. Expectorants are agents that increase bronchial secretions and facilitate their expulsion through coughing, spitting or sneezing. These agents can also aid in nutrient absorption. Steroidal saponins have a marked effect on hormonal activity. Plants like Liquorice contain saponins.
Tannin-rich plants like the Oak tree can contract the skin’s tissue, thereby improving the skin’s resistance to infection. Makes mouth feel dry and or cottony. Seal wounds and inflammation
Plants like the Dog Rose, have enough vitamins to contribute to one’s daily intake.
These oils are extracted from plants to produce essential oils, which impart the characteristic odours of the plants. Volatile oils from plants like Chamomile, have many therapeutic effects and are used in perfumes, food flavourings and aromatherapy.