Spring Cleaning

By Adrianna Vega

Things are looking up Bellinghamsters! As I am writing, it is mid February and almost 50 degrees outside.  I am anxious to begin clearing out my garden beds until dark, finish outdoor projects that have sat dormant all winter and take an evening jog as the daylight hours increase.   Most of all, I am looking forward to seeing the springtime blooms ready to emerge from the sleepy earth, and brightening the deciduous trees with color again.

In order to become fully available to the bounty that awaits us in the springtime, we must first remove or enliven what has lain dormant during the winter.  Our bodies will naturally want to cleanse and purify. Two springtime herbs that will prepare you for this time of inner “spring cleaning” and enlivening are Nettles and Dandelion.
The first of my favorite plants to make its appearance in the Northwest forests is Nettles or Urtica dioica.  If you have lived in the NW, you’ve more than likely been introduced to this plant.  It is one of the most medicinally useful and nutritious plants native to this area.  Nettles have different properties when collected at different stages of growth.  They should be harvested in early spring before going to seed.  Preferably collect just the top few inches of the plant and only gather in locations where it is in great abundance.  Fresh leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or they can be dried and made into cold or hot tea.   An overnight infusion with cold water will extract minerals and water soluble vitamins, making  a highly nutritious beverage.  Nettles are naturally high in Calcium, Chromium, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc, Potassium, Selenium, and Phosphorus.  They contain vitamin C, vitamin A and some B vitamins.  Naturally anti-inflammatory, an anti-histamine and a purifying diuretic, nettles are very effective blood cleansers and improve the efficiency of both the liver and kidneys.  Taken daily, nettles will help treat seasonal allergies.
Dandelions, a plant that is ever-present on disturbed lands. It is always healing, cleansing and filtering toxins through its deep tap roots with its happy yellow blooms reminding us of the beauty of spring.  Just as they act through the ground to purify the earth, dandelions work through our bodies to detoxify our blood and organs.  The leaves stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, awakening your metabolism for spring releases!  Dandelion leaves can be eaten raw in salads or dried to make either cold or hold infusions.  Just as with Nettle, an overnight cold infusion will release the high mineral content and water soluble vitamins.   Prepare your bodies for the energies of spring, and don’t forget to harvest these goodies that mother earth has provided for your cleansing pleasure!

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