WE ARE BECOMING— CAROLYN BARRON

When dreaming of colors we often turn our eyes to the coast. Sand as it runs wet to dry, fog as it floats in from the north, golden hour on the cliffs at dusk. Inspiration for our newest color struck, as usual, when returning from the sea: a ruffle of dusty green caught our eye against the rocks. Delicate, yet holding fast in a salt-kissed crevice where nothing else dared to put its roots. Perfect for a bouquet, but don't pick her without asking. Meet Nettle.


Like its namesake, this subtle, fresh, almost-sage green looks delicate and sweet, yet has a serious backbone, a little bite, and is—like the women who wear it—capable of offering great gifts when given proper respect. 


Diving deep into the world of nettle and all of its potent nourishing-flourishing-and-delivering-a-sting-on-her-own-terms possibility we thought, of course, to ask OZMA friend, plant and energy healer, poet, and chief "Botanarchist" Carolyn Barron for a little meditation and guidance on the often misunderstood plant.

 

Carolyn wears the Audrey Shirt Jacket and Dot Hankie  

  

  

  


From Carolyn:

 

 

All afternoon these lovers lay

Until the sun turned pale from warm,

Until sweet wind changed tune, blew harm :

Cruel nettles stung her angles raw.

 

Rueful, most vexed, that tender skin

Should accept so fell a wound,

He stamped and cracked stalks to the ground

Which had caused his dear girl pain.

 

Now he goes from his rightful road

And, under honor, will depart;

While she stands burning, venom-girt,

In wait for sharper smart to fade.

 

- Sylvia Plath 

 

Nettle’s notorious sting is eerily similar to the sharp pain of a whip lash. Stinging Nettle’s latin name - Urtica Dioca - has the same root as hives, whose medical name - Urticaria - both stem from the latin word urere, meaning "to burn.” Hot, right?

Like many of us, nettle likes sunbathing in spring and preening next to bodies of water, and can be found tramping about in spring to late summer near streams, meadows, and ditches.

Not one to back down from a bar fight, the volatile Nettle has prickly hairs upon its leaves that contain chemicals that can irritate the skin and cause stinging, itching, and redness. If you’ve ever rubbed against one of these on a dank river path, you know it. 

It is also the Edward Scissorhands of medicinal plants: its touch will vex you with a thousand cuts, but its spirit is gentle, compassionate, magical, and misunderstood. 

Nettles contain more protein than any other native plant, and their burgeoning, verdigris leaves ensconce epic amounts of iron, trace minerals, essential fatty acids, and chlorophyll. Like a multivitamin built for a Botanarchist, Nettles also contain calcium, magnesium, silicon, potassium, manganese, zinc, copper, chromium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and nearly all of the B vitamins needed for full fluorescence.

 

  

  

 

Carolyn wears the Hana T-Shirt Dress.





 

 

Carolyn wears the Carrasco Jumpsuit.

 

  

  

 

  

In my clinical practice, patients that have suppressed digestive function or are healing from childbirth, surgery, trauma, injury, or a viral infection like EBV, get prescribed a Nettle infusion in lieu of a multivitamin. It goes down easy, is more bioavailable than synthetic vitamins, and has a tonic effect on the whole body.

Here’s the fascinating ruse: Nettle hairs contain, of all things, histamine, which brings to life my favorite medical paradox: “the poison is the cure.” Test-tube research shows that Stinging Nettle extracts can inhibit inflammation that triggers seasonal allergies. This includes blocking histamine receptors and stopping immune cells from releasing chemicals that trigger allergy symptoms. 

Spring in East Asian Medicine is the season of wind and because spring winds kick up the dust literally and metaphorically, I am fond of knocking back a few tipples of Nettle libation all season, to soothe allergy woes like watery, itchy eyes, congestion, runny nose, sinus pressure, and eczema.

One would think that having all this power goes straight to Nettle’s head, but it actually remains quite humble and approachable! To get the benefits, simply infuse dried Nettle (you can gather your own—with gloves! and caution!—if you have it growing near you, I get mine from Wild Terra) in hot water, let it sit, then drink. You can even leave it alone and unsupervised, and it won’t trash your house. Here are all the needed accoutrements for Stinging Nettle Infusion:

  • A kettle
  • One quart of water
  • One ounce of dried Nettle leaf 
  • A strainer or some cheese cloth
  • A glass vessel or mason jar for infusing

Gently finesse your dried Nettle leaves into your glass vessel. Add one quart of boiling water, and then let it steep uninterrupted for 4 hours if you’re short on time, or all day/overnight if you’re going the distance. After you are done steeping, strain the herb with a strainer or cheese cloth, and store the liquid in the fridge (it keeps for about 3 days). 

I recommend drinking 2 cups a day as a general tonic, and 4 cups a day if you are recovering from an acute condition. Nettle likes to be in long term relationships, woo it for months at a time, and it will reveal its secrets and magic. Don’t fancy monogamy? Add a handful of dried mint or goji berries for extra puissance. Still voracious?! Sweeten with a dab of molasses and drink it warm.




*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are for educational purposes only. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs, please consult your health care professional before using.



Find out more about Carolyn's work here (we recommend signing up for her monthly newsletter!) and follow her on IG here. Photos by Ashley Turner

 

  

 

 

 

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