Nettle is often considered a weed but don’t overlook it as one of the most nutrient rich plants in the world! Type 8 in the Enneagram is called the Director, who tends to be bossy, in charge and strong in willpower. They tend to speak up, act on instinct and like things direct. Indirectness, roundabout statements and hinting can drive them crazy. I chose nettles as my Type 8 herb – with its strong flavor, richness in color and stinging hairs. Roman soldiers once rubbed stinging nettle on their skin to stay warm and be tough!
8s are strong but sensitive underneath their tough exterior. With their flat-out honesty they can hurt people without wanting to, as their directness can be abrasive and stinging. However, 8s are also nurturing like nettle and will take the shirt off their backs to help those in need.
Nettle is both a food and medicine. It has a widely spreading rhizome and stolon underground (like the underground strength of an 8). The roots and underground parts are bright yellow, contrasted with the dark green of the leaves, abundant in Northern Europe, America and much of Asia. It grows especially in the Pacific Northwest but also in moist climates throughout much of the world.
In German, to sit in nettles means to get into trouble (as 8s can do without meaning to because they are outspoken and impulse action oriented). In French there’s an idiom that means “don’t push grandma into the nettles,” which means be careful not to abuse a situation.
Nettles when cooked tastes like spinach and is rich in Vitamin A, C, potassium, manganese and calcium. It has plenty of amino acids and is rich in antioxidants. Soaking or cooking removes the stinging hairs. At peak time, the leaves can be 25% protein which is high for a leafy vegetable. Nettle recipes often are used in polenta, pesto and soups. There’s even a World Nettle Eating Championship (8s tend to love eating and competition)!
Nettles has been used to treat just about everything. As a tea, tincture, extract or capsule, it can help to detoxify the body through its diuretic action. It also can promote healthy blood circulation and cardiovascular health. Nettle is also well known for helping to alleviate allergic reactions due to environmental irritants.
So gather your nettle (with gloves) and go into action. Don’t be shy. Nettles can be great for 8s to remember their vulnerability and that stinging can hurt themselves or others. This is also a great plant for non-8s to remember to be strong and direct.
Herb will be teaching his class, Herbs of the Enneagram, at Herbstalk on Sunday, June 3rd!
View the full class schedule here.