Herb(s) of the Week: The Three Amigas – Alfalfa, Milky Oats and Nettle
It’s been quite the week last week (don’t even ask – crazy, wild, weird and not in the fun way!) and continuing into this week as well. So much so that I knew I needed a special herbal blend and that’s exactly what this blend is. I call the Three Amigas – Alfalfa, Milky Oats and Nettles.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
In the past I had never given Alfalfa the due she deserved. I had been taught it as valuable for its nutritive properties, but somehow those never leaped out to me as special compared to others like nettles, any seaweed, etc. When I finally spent time working with Alfalfa, I felt the calming and supportive magic when I was stressed.
It was Matthew Wood who put the finger on what was really going on in my view (The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants):
“The medicinal properties more likely depend on the strong alkalinity of the herb. Many problems are due to acidity. Alkalization sedates the nerves and muscles, removes acids from the digestive tract and internal environment, improving digestion, reducing putrefaction in the gut, and cleansing the internal fluids and tissues.”
When I read that, I knew that was what I was feeling when I worked with Alfalfa. When you’re stressed your body produces so much excess acids and Alfalfa helps with that. It’s generally considered a good herb to use when treating nervousness, irritability and insomnia – I suspect for primarily for that reason.
Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
Milky Oats first appeared on my herbal radar in a significant way when I noticed she appeared in the nervine tincture blend I liked best, after spending some time checking out different blends by different companies. All the other herbs used across the board seemed to be variations of the usual suspects (Skullcap, Passionflower, etc.) But the blend with Milky Oats had an extra magic to it that really resonated with me.
I think that David Winston and Steven Maimes summed it up best (Adaptogens):
“Fresh milky oat extract is a superb food for the nervous system. It is a slow-acting tonic remedy that calms shattered nerves, relieves emotional instability, reduces the symptoms of drug withdrawal, and helps restore a sense of peace and tranquility to overstressed, angry and chronically upset people.”
Milky Oats is a classic nervine and often used with cases of nervous exhaustion, mental strain and insomnia. I also think it is an amazing supportive player in combination with other herbs with similar actions making blends stronger.
Nettles, Stinging (Urtica dioica)
Hey, what can I say about Nettles, because like many herbalists I just completely love them. They are amazingly nutritive and strong ally to us all.
I remember the very first time I drank a strong Susun Weed style infusion of Nettles (quart Mason jar 1/3 full of dried nettle and then add boiling water, infused overnight) and was blown away by how dark black, complex and yummy they were. I couldn’t get enough of it for weeks on end. What they had, I clearly needed badly.
Nettles are filled with minerals and are so nutritious that I’m embarrassed for my neighbors who keep tearing them out of their gardens to grow things far less healthy. And Nettles have an abundance of uses – see Susun Weed’s Healing Wise for wonderful coverage of that.
As I was flipping through some books today in writing this, one of the more interesting bits that I don’t recall hearing about before came from Maud Grieve’s A Modern Herbal:
“Nettle is anti-asthmatic: the juice of the roots or leaves, mixed with honey or sugar, will relieve bronchial and asthmatic troubles and the dried leaves, burnt and inhaled, will have the same effect.”
My Own Take: Individually any one of these is a great herb to work with, but when you have a strong need I find them amazingly powerful as a team. (You can throw in an adaptogen if you’re so inspired but frankly I find them just perfect as is for a blend.)
I’ve tended to call this blend the Three Amigas (Friends) because I see them as supportive friends to help you when you’re stressed and life feels out of control. One nourishes you exceptionally (Nettles), one cleanses you (Alfalfa) and the last helps to calm you (Milky Oats) – like the best of friends should in your life when you’re in need.