My 10-year-old son has increasing problems with seasonal allergies — we brace ourselves as spring comes with its pollen because this kid really reacts. Last year we kept him comfortable with over-the-counter medications, local honey, regular elderflower tea, lavender oil in a nebulizer/diffuser concoction as he sleeps, and a chest rub of lavender and eucalyptus oil in a carrier oil. The remedies helped keep him comfortable but he still needed a small dose of allergy medication, nearly daily.
With each year we have added some new tools to the
arsenal but it has felt impossible to stay in front of the problem,
As of April 8, he has had allergy medicine twice.
When he would normally be taking a small dose each evening he has only
had medicine on severe pollen days (and he played outside to boot on
those days, tempting fate apparently and unaware of the pollen count).
This season’s addition has been near-miraculous for him: nettle leaf.
a year later to report that he used medication three times last season
and this year, in a challenging year for allergies, he has remained
By “nettle leaf,” I do mean the stuff with the stinging hairs that leaves an itchy rash on your skin for a few days.
You can definitely buy nettle dried online but we have been consuming so much this season that we have harvested
it in great quantities locally. We have had it in soups and infusions
several times a week for the past two months. We gathered enough to save
three gallons packed of dried leaves and 28 quart-sized baggies of
blanched and frozen nettle for soup.
We have hauled nettle
infusions on trips for allergy relief and packed soup in my son’s lunch,
all for a kid who will eat nothing else green. He consumes nettle
because his relief is near-immediate. Last week an attack came on and
his eye began to look like he had a shiner. I tried to capture his agony
in a photo and the relief one hour later, after 1/2 cup (~ 4 oz) of
nettle soup. The pictures aren’t the greatest and his eye was not as bad
as it can get, but we caught the allergy attack in time, threw some
nettle at it, and Frederick went on with the rest of his day like a
Our two key tools are nettle soup and nettle
infusions, both cooked to neutralize the stinging property of the nettle
leaf. We have a standard nettle soup recipe (here) but it can be seasoned in many ways for variety. We do use fresh or
frozen nettle but my mom promises to develop a soup recipe using dried
nettle that you can purchase online. In the meantime, experiment with
dried nettle in soups — just rehydrate it in your cooking process.
also make strong infusions with nettle stems and leaves that are left
over from our nettle foraging and processing but you can use fresh or
dry nettle. Place it in a pot with boiling water, turn off the heat,
cover and let it sit overnight or for up to 24 hours. Strain out the
liquid — that liquid is your infusion. We make a very strong infusion
because of the quantity of nettle we have, so strong that we add citrus
juice and a sweetener to cover the grassy taste. Experiment with what
works for you in terms of flavor and concentration. A cup of soup or
infusion brings near-immediate relief to my son but each cup we make may
be stronger than what you end up cooking up in your own kitchen. You
may need to experiment a bit to find what works best for you.
rest of the household gets a nice energy boost from nettle as well.
It’s really a no-lose situation and is now a key part of our spring time
Buy nettle online: For the quantity of nettle you will want to experiment with, we recommend buying it in bulk.
First Published on Fresh Bites