Nutrient Dense Herbs
by Christa Sinadinos

Nutritive herbs are a class of plants that are rich in vitamins and minerals; they provide a source of easily assimilated nutrients. Alfalfa, nettles, and oat straw are examples of nutritive herbs that are featured in this article.

Nutritive herbs have alkalinizing actions, meaning they provide numerous alkaline minerals that counter the effects of excess acid in the body. Excess acid is generated from a diet rich in animal products, processed foods (white flour, sugar, processed meats), tomatoes, soda pop, and coffee, and a dietary lack of fresh land and sea vegetables, fresh fruits (especially berries), and whole grains. In order to maintain homeostasis, the body makes every attempt to maintain blood alkalinity. Consuming acidic foods or beverages without some alkaline foods, causes the body to leach minerals from the tissues and bones to maintain blood alkalinity. The minerals contained in nutritive herbs, vegetables, and most fruits balance the effects of the acidic foods.

A number of conditions can result from long term, excess consumption of highly acidic foods.

Consuming alkalinizing vegetables as well as the nutritive herbs mentioned below, on a daily basis are a great way to counter the undesired effects and conditions that result from acidifying diet.

Infusions are the best preparation for nutritive herbs, rather than tinctures or capsules. Add four to six heaping tablespoons per quart of water. Steep the herbs for up to twelve hours, however steeping the herbs in the tea for a couple hours will suffice. The longer the herbs steep, the more vitamins and minerals will be extracted. Drink up to one quart of nutritive herb tea a day.

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Alfalfa is an important nutritive and restorative herb. It contains high amounts of easily assimilated nutrients and it also enhances the assimilation of nutrients in the digestive tract. It can be consumed as a nourishing tonic during pregnancy, and for anemic individuals or those who have lost a lot of blood. The highly nourishing properties of alfalfa, including the high calcium, magnesium, and silicon content, support women in all phases of life including the teenage years, the reproductive years, and menopausal years.

Alfalfa tea may help to prevent hemorrhage after birth, and it is a great post birth restorative agent. The galactogogue properties in the tea may be beneficial to increase breast milk flow for nursing mothers, as well as for the blood nourishing nutrients.

One cup of tea, drunk before meals, may be useful to strengthen the digestive system. Alfalfa aids in the assimilation of proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals. It also helps to regulate the pH level of the stomach and may be useful for those who suffer from hyper-acidic stomach conditions and stomach ulcers.

Alfalfa contains high amounts of chlorophyll, protein, fiber, beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, B vitamins (biotin, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamin). It contains average amounts of vitamin D, E, and K, as well as amino acids (valine, lysine, arginine, leucine, isoleucine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, methionine, and threonine). Additionally, alfalfa contains trace minerals including calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sodium, and zinc.

Nettles (Urtica dioica)
Nettles are one of the most nourishing plants growing on land and they can be consumed on a daily basis, as a nutrient-rich tea. The part of the plant used for the nutritive properties are the leaves.

Nettles are highly beneficial for women or individuals that have iron deficiency anemia; it is one of the most assimilable forms of non-heme iron. They may also reduce fatigue and exhaustion and are an important source of nutrients for all individuals, but especially for individuals with compromised digestion because the nutrients are so easily digested.

Nettles contain calcium, magnesium, and silica; minerals that support the skeletal system. The silica contained in nettles helps to improve the integrity of the connective tissues, and it can be used as a recuperative agent to speed tissue repair.

All of the minerals contained in nettles have an alkalinizing effect on the tissues. 

Nettles provide a fantastic source of easily-assimilated nutrients. The herb contains the following minerals: iron, potassium, phosphorus, silica, magnesium, manganese, cobalt, selenium, chromium, and sodium. It is also high in Vitamins A, C, D, K, protein, chlorophyll, and possibly B-Complex. It is a highly nutritious herb and can be used in teas or foods.

Oat Straw (Avena sativa)
Oat straw has nutritive properties that are highly beneficial for most individuals, and especially for pregnant and nursing mothers. The part of the plant that is used is the stem; however the seed heads can also be used.

Oat straw tea contains numerous minerals that aid in the development and maintenance of healthy bones, teeth, hair, and nails, including an easily assimilable form of calcium. Many of the nutrients contained in oat straw are beneficial for the nervous system and may help to reduce premenstrual syndrome. The minerals contained in oat straw may also have an alkalinizing effect.

Oat straw contains high amounts of vitamin A and C, as well as many B vitamins including B 6, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. It contains low amounts of vitamins E, and K. Oat straw is rich in minerals such as calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, silicon, and sodium; and contains low to average amounts of cobalt, manganese, potassium, tin, and zinc. Additionally, oat straw contains protein and some amino acids such as arginine, histadine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan.

While the effects of nutritive herbs are gentle and may be subtle, they are highly beneficial to
support the body on a long term basis. They nourish the body by providing numerous vitamins and minerals. They can be consumed on a daily basis, as a tonic, to increase the vital force and energy levels.

Nutritive Tea Recipe
Combine two parts of peppermint (for flavor), one part of nettles, one part oat straw, and one part of alfalfa. Add a pinch of stevia as a sweetener (optional). Drink up to one quart of tea a day for optimum results.

Note: For this recipe, use roughly one quart of water for every 4-6 heaping tablespoons of herb mixture. Of course, as always, be sure to consult your health care provider before beginning any herbal regimen.

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