We all know it’s coming – some of us may already be in the thick of it. The wheezing and sneezing, the bleary eyes, the runny nose, the throbbing temples, the ugh, the stuff. Beautiful spring and summer seasons are accompanied by fresh dander and pollen and all their resulting effects - which just so happens to fall right at the time of year when the dogwoods are exploding into blossom, the birdsong is melodious, and all we want to do is be outside. “What a cruel joke nature plays!” we may think to ourselves while sniffling and gazing longingly out the window. We’ve heard of all the natural solutions: local honey, bee pollen, and locking yourself indoors until summer…but have you met...nettles? Or oh-so-powerful osha?

Know Your Nettle

NettlesStinging nettles, Urtica dioica (and also wood nettles or Laportea canadensis, which can be used fairly interchangeably), are an incredible green ally for those with persistent bothersome seasonal sneezes, and all the rest of it. On top of using locally produced bee by-products like honey, royal jelly and pollen to wage war on aller-season, incorporating nettles as a superfood and super-infusion can give spring and summertime sniffles a kick in their pollinated pants. Mineral rich, booming with iron and chlorophyll, and densely nutritious, nettles are a food-like herb and can be consumed in abundance. Mid-late spring is the optimal time to harvest nettles, when their formic acid content is lower and they are more tender and less fibrous than their summer or autumn versions.

Beneficial to those who deal seasonally with everything from respiratory distress to mucous overload to itchy, scratchy eyes and various red/hot/irritated responses, nettle can be used in infusion form, eaten as a cooked green (it's a top-notch spinach or kale substitute), or taken as a tincture (fresh plant only). 

Nettles are best used as a tonic herb over time for those who suffer from chronic seasonal "crud." Expect to use nettles regularly for one week to one month for them to really do their thing. This juicy food-meets-superfood powerhouse is potent. 

Rusty on the exact process of making a full-strength beneficial herbal infusion? Lucky for you, it takes less than the time it takes to brush your teeth, and we’ll remind you how simple it is in our informative how-to here. Check out this recipe for a rich Russian Nettle Tonic to get even more nettles into your life.

Osha: An Ocean of Possibilities

Osha Root

While nettles is one of our best green aller-allies over the long-term, a wise woman surrounds herself with not one but many friends. Sweet, spicy osha (Ligusticum spp.) is another one of these allies that are useful in soothing whatever red hot issues are in season. But unlike nettles, osha is fast-acting to support at the scene of the problem.

In the form of a potent low-dose botanical, the aromatic osha root assists the body in healthy reactions to irritants, even providing clearness of breath and openness of airways until one can seek proper medical treatment, should an acute situation arise. With issues resulting in red, "angry" skin such as garden-variety rashes to bumps or anomalies due to an irritant, osha tincture can be used both topically and internally in tandem to support the body in balancing its extreme red-alert response. Got an itchy throat or soreness in the upper respiratory tract? Osha is helpful for soothing those tender esophageal passages.

If you or someone you know has strong physiological responses to the world around them – whether bee stings or nut butters – it’s a wise investment to have a bottle of osha tincture on hand to support a healthy, balanced response. As a bonus, and in the same vein, osha is also excellent for use on skin discomforts of an acute, suddenly irritated nature that you might experience: "osha for owies" as my six-year-old says. Don’t be caught without this powerful root, and may the osha and the nettles help you to enjoy an irritant-free spring singing with the birds.

April 29, 2015 — Heather Wood Buzzard


Heather said:

Lara, I don’t know of a reason why goats couldn’t have osha. There are dosage charts for goats in the book Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, so I’d recommend checking that out. Thanks!

Lara said:

Can goats eat osha root? Looking for natural remedy to help my goat with lung condition. Also heart condition. Besides just me giving him acute and chronic Love.

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