N Section

Neem Azadiracta indica
Nettle, stinging, Urtica dioica 
White nettle, deadnettle, Lamium album
Nux Vomica, Strychnos nux-vomica

Nettles (stinging nettles)

Urtica dioica L.

Urticaceae

(Photo and more information)

Notes: Stinging nettle is a readily available wild plant that I grow in my garden. It provides minerals, vitamins and phytochemistry that protects me and alleviates my psoriasis. We eat the herb stewed, steamed, saute almost daily from April through October. Simply snip off the new growth top leaves, cook and enjoy its multiple benefits. (CHILI RECIPE)

Uses:

Food/Cooking: Young shoots in Fall (new growth) and shoots in Spring are picked and steamed or saute. Also, stir fry. One of my favorite recipes is to cream nettle into soup. See recipes on this disk (recipes file). Older Summer nettles may be simmered with other herbs: rosemary, celery, thyme, onions, leeks, lovage to make a vegetable bullion, or soup base. Discard the plant materials after simmering for fifteen minutes. Use vegetable broth in cooking.

TIP: Jewelweed and mullein may be rubbed on nettle stings for relief.

Medicine: Nettle are mineral rich and a traditional food for allergy sufferers. Freeze dried nettle have been used to treat hay fever with moderate success. Diuretic. Expectorant having been used for asthma and cough. Nettle tincture used for flu, colds, pneumonia and bronchitis. Dried plant is styptic. According to Brill and Dean in their book, IDENTIFYING AND HARVESTING EDIBLE AND MEDICINAL PLANTS, drinking nettle tea and eating nettles may make your skin clearer and healthier. May be therapeutic for eczema. Nettles may improve color, texture, gloss and health of hair.

Aerial parts used for urinary tract infections, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism.  Root used for irritable bladder  and prostate complaints.

Bleeding: Nettle has styptic (dried herb on wounds) and hemostatic characteristics. Tea from the plant has been used to stem internal bleeding. consult a Naturopathic or holistic health care provider for more on this therapy.

Counterirritant: Nettles have been used to thrash arthritic joints. This causes pain and inflammation and temporary relief. Not recommended.

Experimental: nettle roots have been used in Russia (tinctured) for hepatitis, and gall bladder inflammation. And in Germany nettle root extraction is used in research for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer: Estrogen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) may increase the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Nettle root and pygeum bark (Pygeum africanum Hook, Rosaceae) have shown some blocking action against the chemistry that may promote BPH. (see HerbalGram No. 40. American Botanical Council.).

Study: A randomized study of arthritis sufferers suggests that stinging nettle extract when accompanied by a lowered dose of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac improved or enhanced the efficacy of the prescription drug. In the test, half the patients took the full dose of diclofenac (anti-inflammatory drug for treating arthritis) 200mg while the test group took 50mg of diclofenac along with 50g of stewed nettle leaf. The results showed that the reduced prescription drug and nettle combination was just as effective at lowering pain as the full dose of the drug. These results confirmed the 1996 study of Ramm and Hansen that showed a lower amount of prescription anti-inflammatory was effectively enhanced by dried nettle leaf capsules.

-Chrubasik, Bauer, Grabner, Enderleinl 1997. Evidence for antirheumatic effectiveness of Herba Urticae dioicae in acute arthritis: A pilot study. Phytomedicine, Vol 4, No. 2, 105-108.

-Ramm et. al. 1996 . Brennesselblatter-extrakt bei arthrose und rheumatoider arthritis. Therapiewoche, Vol. 28, 3-6.

Chemistry: Hairs contain histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin (anti-depression, sleep promoter, anti-bulemic, improves sensory perception), formic acid, 5- hydroxytryptamine (serotonin), plant high in iron and other minerals: calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, sulfur, phosphorus.  Also polysaccharides, lignans, lectins (agglutinin, isolectins) and scopoletin a hydroxycoumarin.

Vitamins include: vitamin C, beta carotene and other carotenoids, numerous B vitamins. Also, rich in absorbable amino acids at about 10% protein. (2) (6)

Russians used nettle to treat hepatitis...Other plants used to treat hepatitis include Lobelia inflata, Plantago major, passion flower, Mahonia aquifolium, Camellia sisensis, Artemisia absinthium, Cornus florida, Mentha pulegium, Momordica charantia, Mayapple and others.

Later today I am going to blend fresh nettle with water and a little ash from a fire.  That should neutralize the formic acid and make it edible raw. Will this provide me with a source of serotonin? Also, histamine? And what's the risk? Is this an alternative to freeze drying the herb for treating hay fever? Calcium chloride may be better than wood ash...Hmmmm?

White Nettle, Deadnettle

Lamium album L.

Lamiaceae

(Photo)

This lawn nuisance grows along the edges of our yard.  

Medicine: Leaves and flowers are used to treat skin inflammations, bronchitis, coughs, and inflammations of pharynx and mouth.  Approved by Commission E.   An astringent, decongestant tea, styptic, anti-inflammatory.

Chemistry: saponins, rosmaric acid, chlorongenic acid, flavonoid (kaempferol glycosides).

Preparation:  One level teaspoon of the dried aerial parts to one cup of water just off the boil.  Three or four times per day.  Decent herbal tea, with potent health benefits.

 

Nux Vomica

Strychnos nux vomica L.

Loganiaceae

(See strychnine as a Psychoactive Chemical)

Description: Tree to 80 feet endemic to Southeast Asia, India and Pakistan.  Old pharmacopoeias have translated the species name as pertaining to emesis.  Thus believing the plant extract would induce vomiting.  It does not induce vomiting but does induce convulsion.  Vomica describes the depression in the seeds of the plant.

Medicine:  Seeds and bark are used as medicine.  Toxic herb used to treat pain, weakened and fevered conditions, stimulating, treatment for anemia secondary to disease.  Used to treat heart conditions.   Considered a tonic, appetite stimulant.

Ayurvedic practitioners process the seeds to remove toxins. 

Chemistry:  Fatty oils, polysaccharides, loganin.  Alkaloids:  strychnine, brucine, vomicine.  According to Kapoor, Handbook of Ayurvedic Plants, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL., the wood, bark, leaves do not contain strychnine.  But in the next paragraph this statement is contradicted.  Unfortunate.  What are we to believe?  According to other sources the psychoactive, toxic alkaloids strychnine and brucine are in the seeds. Seeds are dried, considered aphrodisiac, spinal nerve stimulant and stimulating to heart and respiratory tract.  SEED IS POISONOUS.   The list of treatment dysentery, diarrhea, emotional conditions, epilepsy, gout, rheumatism, hydrophobia, considered an aphrodisiac. Root bark in paste form with lime used to treat cholera.  Wood decoction to treat dyspepsia.  There are numerous treatments with this herb, but use it only under the supervision of a trained holistic health care professional.

WARNING: Plant part contains strychnine, brucine and other toxic substances.

Wildlife/Veterinarian: Strychnine is used as a rat poison and as a poison for other intrusive rodents.  Children eating this poisonous rat biscuits may be severely poisoned.