The Super Bone Building & Allergy Fighting Herb in Your Garden
By Michelle Schoffro Cook
It’s National Herb Week! To celebrate I thought I’d share some exciting herbal medicines with you.
If you’re looking for an impressive natural anti-allergy medicine that offers many other health benefits, look no further than stinging nettles. The much-overlooked weed is popping up this time of year, as gardeners who experience its prickly stinging sensation can attest.
Native Americans used this plant, aptly known as stinging nettles, for many years to treat a wide variety of health conditions.
Research in the medical journal Phytotherapy Research shows what Native Americans have known for many years: nettles significantly reduce allergies. The study showed that nettles effectively treats inflammation linked to allergies on multiple levels: by reducing the histamine as well as multiple other compounds linked to inflammation. Histamine is a naturally-produced substance in the body that occurs as a response to exposure to allergens and the reason we experience nasal or sinus congestion, sneezing and other symptoms of allergies.
Additional research published in the same journal found that participants taking nettles had noticeably improved relief of allergy-induced nasal congestion than those who received the placebo.
Other research published in the journal Neuroscience Letters found that the herb demonstrated tremendous potential for alleviating many of the health concerns linked to diabetes: from reducing high blood sugar levels, neuropathy pain, the symptoms of excessive thirst to balancing insulin, weight and improving memory and cognition.
And, if all that wasn’t enough: nettles contain an abundance of calcium, in a readily absorbable form, making them an excellent dietary addition to build and maintain strong bones.
Nettles readily appear in the springtime, usually in the damp and shady parts of gardens or natural areas. Be sure to wear gloves while harvesting them to avoid their hair-like stingers and the discomfort they inflict on bare skin.
You can add fresh nettles to soups or stews, sautee them like spinach or another green leafy vegetable or dry them for use in teas. They are popping up in greater frequency at farmer’s markets too for those who would rather avoid foraging for them. If you do forage for then, be sure you have an experienced guide with you. Alternatively, there are many teas and tinctures (alcohol extracts) available in health food stores. Follow package directions for the product you select.
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James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.