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Nutritional Herbs: Nettle, Dandelion & Alfalfa
By Denise - January 14, 2016

Nutritional Herbs: Nettle, Dandelion & Alfalfa

Many people realize that herbs have medicinal properties and are rich in certain vitamins and minerals, but do you know which ones are traditionally rated the highest? There are many nutritional herbs I can list that pack a punch with nutritional content but today I am going to talk about three of my favorites: nettle, dandelion, and alfalfa.

3 Nutritional Herbs To Know & Use This Year

The three nutritional herbs being discussed today are Stinging Nettle, Dandelion Leaf and Root, and Alfalfa. Each of these contain different properties for different ailments. However, they are all multi-vitamin, multi-nutrient plants. I will be discussing what each one has in them, a few things they are used for, and how to use them in your own home.

Stinging Nettle

One of my very favorite nutritional herbs to use is Stinging Nettle. Nettle is packed with a variety of vitamins. It has:

  • Vitamin A, C, E, F, K, P
  • Vitamin B-complexes as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6 all of which are found in high levels and act as antioxidants.
  • Zinc, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Selenium
  • Boron
  • Bromine
  • Calcium
  • Chlorine
  • Chlorophyll
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Iodine
  • Chromium
  • Silicon
  • Sulfur
It also has sixteen free amino acids that have been found in the leaves as well as many carotenoids such as beta-carotene, luteoxanthin and lutein epoxide.

Along with the nutrients mentioned above, it contains on average 22% protein, 4% fats, 37% non-nitrogen extracts, 9-21% fiber, 19-29% ash.

That is quite a list! Why take synthetic store-bought multi-vitamins when you can use this in your kitchen for a lot less? What else is it good for?

Extracts of nettle have been included in hair tonics for centuries due to its purported ability to stimulate hair growth. Like many bitter herbs, nettle is a blood purifier.

Its long list of traditional uses can be summed up in its ability to increase the production of urine, its mild laxative effect and its ability to increase the efficiency of liver and kidney function.

~Bulk Herb Store

Dandelion Leaf and Root

I absolutely love dandelion. When your grandmother said dandelion greens were good for you, she wasn’t kidding. It's easy to find, easy to use and is rich in vitamins and nutrients which include:
  • Vitamin A, K, C, B6
  • Fiber
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Folate
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Copper
  • Zeaxanthin
Some of the things that this plant is used to help with are digestion, kidneys, liver, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, gallbladder, inflammation, and the immune system. Here is an excerpt from Practical Herbalism:

Dandelion is commonly thought to be one of the “bitter herbs” recommended in the Bible. Its young leaves have been gathered and eaten as a pot herb or as an addition to salads for centuries. It has been used to aid digestion, relieve liver distress, and to treat all manner of ills from dropsy, jaundice, and kidney stones to warts and psoriasis. Culpeper states, “It is of an opening and cleansing quality, and therefore, very effectual for the obstructions of the liver, glass, and spleen. It opens the passages of the urine, both in young and old, powerfully cleanses, and doth afterward heal them.”

I remember when we were kids we would blow the puffy seeds all through the yard. My dad would yell us for spreading weeds! If only he knew how beneficial this "pesky weed" was he might have joined us sitting in the grass enjoying the floating fluff flying through the air on sunny summer days. Here is a sweet article on Dandelion by Debi Pearl.

Alfalfa

This herb didn't get its name "Father of all Herbs" for nothing. This herb contains:
  • The entire spectrum of B-vitamins
  • Vitamin A, C, D, E ,K.
  • Iron
  • Niacin
  • Biotin
  • Folic acid
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
And if you sprout the seeds the nutrition increases to almost 20 times more! Here is a great article on why and how to sprout seeds for even more health benefits. I use alfalfa daily in our home. Below I discuss a few simple ways to incorporate these wonderful herbs into your diet.

How To Use These Herbs In Your Kitchen

It isn't difficult to incorporate these incredible plants into your food and supplements. You can make your own vitamins, add them to food, and use them in tinctures. One way that I use all three at once is by powdering them in my NutriBullet and filling capsules with my capsule machine. This is an instant, inexpensive, power-house multi-vitamin. Another way I use all three at once is in my food. I keep a mason jar with equal amounts of these herbs on my counter. Every soup, sauce, gravy, and salad gets a nice sprinkle with this trio. The dried herbs are very mild tasting and are practically undetectable to your pallet but a huge impact on your system. Fresh Dandelion is commonly used in salads and a great addition to sandwiches as well. Alfalfa sprouts are also a common item to add to salads and soups. My kids and I love them. All three can be added to make tea. I make a blend of Nettle, Dandelion, Alfalfa, Orange Peel, and Red Rooibos. Many other herbs compliment these in tea blends. Choose your favorite and play around with them. This is always a fun project for my little ones. Another great way to get the kiddos in the kitchen! Add some lemon and honey and head out back for a tea party. The last way that I recommend using these are in tinctures, glycerites, or vinegars. Here is a thorough article by Meagan from Growing Up Herbal explaining each one and some great tips for trying them yourself. And here is my sweet Hannah showing an easy way to make a vinegar and honey remedy called an oxymel. You can add all three of the herbs to this recipe that she demonstrates. An excellent cold and flu remedy for this season. Once again, the kids love doing these concoctions. It's fun, educational, and so medicinal.

In Conclusion

There are so many more ways to incorporate these three amazing herbs into your daily regimen. As with any herbs, if you are taking prescription medication, always ask your physician for any contraindications. These vitamin-packed herbs are a staple in my home. I hope they become one in yours too!
Do you already use these in your home? Are there other nutritional herbs you enjoy adding to your meals? Please share some of your favorite recipes with us!
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3 Comments

  1. Samantha Rayburn
    I use these 3 herbs regularly in my house as they are very easy to find and store. Very good information Denise ~ thank you! :)
  2. jo n
    If there were oxalates, would that be listed? I am new to looking at oxalates.
    1. Meagan
      I double-checked if these herbs in several sources and couldn't find it in any so I'd say "no," they do not contain oxalates or oxalic acid. So these herbs are vitamin and mineral rich herbs that should be very available to the body. Great question, and thanks for your comment!