Jan 29, 2011

OUCH! Talk About Your Bad Hair Day

Photo from Google Images

Stinging Nettle is a herbaceous flowering plant found in Europe, Asia, northern Africa, North America and apparently my back yard. The leaves and stems are covered with brittle, hollow, silky hairs that contain three chemicals, i.e., histamine, acetylcholine and serotonin. The histamine irritates skin and the acetylcholine causes a burning sensation acting as a neurotransmitter in both the peripheral and central nervous system. I'm not sure what the serotonin does. When you accidentally grab the plant as I did today in the broccoli patch while weeding, the tiny plant hairs act like syringes, injecting you with these three chemicals.

I've encountered stinging nettle before but never felt pain like I did today. And the pain simply was not going away 4 hours later. Ten hours and 50 mg of Benadryl later on the Wong-Baker pain scale:
I'm a 4. Whats up with that? Obviously, I've had a freakishly severe reaction.

Someone suggested I buy my broccoli at Publix as she hears it's good this time of year.

In reading about this little plant I've learned some interesting things. For instance, if applied to an area of intense pain such as my arthritic toe it helps relieve that arthritic pain.
Scientists think nettle does this by reducing levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body, and by interfering with the way the body transmits pain signals. My theory is you are in so much pain from the nettle injections that you can no longer feel your arthritic toe.

I might be tempted to try it on my toe if I didn't think I would lapse in to an anaphylactic coma after the application.

Stinging Nettle is also edible and supposedly tastes like chicken spinach. If you soak it in water before you eat it the little hypodermic hairs are rendered helpless.

Photo from Google Images

I'll stick with spinach.

Has anyone else encountered this plant?


Dani said...

Oh no!!!!!!! I hope you're better now.

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Yes, we have this plant on our place, yes I hate it with a fire-hot passion. No, I have never written about it, or read about it in such a fine hoot-inducing fashion. Try aloe on your owies?

Anonymous said...

I've been stung by it before and I know it was used as a herbal drug and eaten. It just burns.

Elizabeth said...

I've heard of it before as an edible plant but have never been interested -- now I'm sure it's insane. I'm so sorry that you're still in pain and hope that it goes away! And while my ears pricked when you described its potential benefit for arthritic toes, well, I'll deal with the toe.

Diane said...

I didn't know what it was called...thought it was a weed and grabbed it with bare hands one day to pull it up....ouch! I felt the sting until the next day! I avoid them now. You are always teaching me new things : )

Unknown said...

It is good for arthritis I was looking up raisins and gin on mothernature.com and there is an insert about people pulling it up (with gloves)and wacking their affected joints...got to be a better way!!the rasin and gin is more like it! too bad it doesn't work for nettles!!!sorry Donna


Donna: I don't like raisins but the gin sounds good. Maybe if I soaked the Stinging Nettle in gin and then drank the gin...