It’s no fun to find that it’s snowing on your scalp. Fortunately, nature makes a free, effective, and painless cure for this common winter-time problem that isn’t that weird-smelling chemical shampoo at the pharmacy: Stinging nettle!
When dandruff struck recently, I was in luck. I had a couple jars full of stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, that I had picked and dried last spring. So I put a tea kettle on the stove, boiled some tap water, and then poured it over the nettle and let it steep until cooled. (In other words, I made an herbal infusion, also known as tea). Then I poured it into an empty bottle of Dr. Bronner’s rose-scented glycerin soap I had around. Well, I thought it was empty — as it turned out, there was a little bit of soap at the bottom, which made the nettle tea smell like rose and preserved it! Tea wouldn’t normally last indefinitely, of course, but glycerin is a preservative, and so now I have a bottle of shampoo that I can keep using.
So far, I’ve washed my hair with it twice, and there’s already been a significant improvement. I’d say it’s 80% better! Even once my scalp is 100% better, I’ll still use it, because nettle is great for your hair regardless. It has a long history of use as a rinse that makes your hair silky and shiny.
Nettle grows in partial and full shade, usually near water. It looks like a mint plant, with square stems and leaves opposite one another, and it stings you if you touch it fresh. It’s possible to find it around Portland now, but it’s most abundant in the spring. Drying it is easy: You just lay it out on a screen or hang it upside down, perhaps in a doorway or from a clothesline indoors.
If you don’t have access to it in the wild or don’t know how to identify it, you can get it online or in your local health store or apothecary — and you can also meet it this spring on one of my guided hikes in Portland!
Stinging nettle has a boundless array of uses. It’s food, medicine for many kinds of ailments, cordage, a spell-breaker in witchcraft, and much more. Check out these other posts about nettle to scratch the surface:
How do you like to use nettle? And what other kinds of wild shampoos have you used and loved?
Share this post with your friends and tell them how to cure their dandruff!
I’m very excited for my upcoming series of plant spirit healing classes, beginning with Rose on January 24!