Nettle iron tonic: Medicine making with children

As guardians of children (watching over, protecting and taking responsibility for ~ which, by the way in a functioning society is all of us), we have so much more influence than we think. Stephen Jenkinson’s words ‘the children are watching’ come to mind. Children watch, absorb and inherit the world around them; the words and phrases they hear, patterns of behaviour they witness, attitudes/ beliefs and rules they internalise and make assumptions about, ways of being, relating and responding to whats around them. They look up to us expectedly; learning with an innocent trust that I have started to call innate inheritance.

Innate ~ existing in, belonging to the essential nature of something, determined by factors present at birth.

Inheritance ~ to receive (from parents, guardians, elders, culture and society)

Innate inheritance. This phrase supports me and brings a sense of relief as a mother. Within it I acknowledge that it is up to me and also not up to me what my daughter inherits. I can’t control what she inherits because the guardianship of children is a collective task whether we live in a society set up for that or not. She is my daughter, inheriting me as her mother but she doesn’t belong to me; she is also the daughter of the world, inheriting the world. For me, parenting is keeping us alive and healthy, living as meaningfully as we can within cultural constraints and letting my daughter watch.

If you are reading this as a parent, I’m not sharing any of this because you need to do more. You are doing a great job, I’m sure. In fact, you might even be able to do less but being more intentional about and present with what it is you choose to do for/around/ with your children.

Which brings me to the radical act of gathering and making medicines with the children in our life. This is nourishing innate inheritance in action. Children that grow up making medicines will develop an innate, embodied understanding that the health of their body is connected and related to the health of the land. They inherit a connection with medicine plants, knowledge to tend the land respectfully for the preservation of medicine and habitat for the wild ones. They inherit an innate knowing that they can nourish and care for their body and their health. They inherit an innate understanding of how outside time regulates and soothes their nervous system. I could go on.


At the same time, we can offer this nourishing innate inheritance to ourselves as we re/un-learn how to guardian, parent and elder our inner children who may not have inherited the skills, nourishment, tending or ability to regulate we wanted or needed.


This spring nettle iron tonic I made with my daughter is an incredibly nourishing medicine for anyone suffering with uncomfortable periods, reproductive disease or anaemia. As a breastfeeding menstruator, I find it really supports my energy levels throughout my cycle. My daughter is two and she has already helped make many batches of this tonic. She knows what to do and a lot of the apricots always make their way into her mouth which is welcome. I love that she will innately inherit this recipe, this practice of gathering in the spring nettles and the herbal knowledge to support her own menstrual health one day.

Nettle is a warming, nutritious herb I often offer to clients suffering with menstrual challenges. Nettle is full of vital vitamins and minerals including iron that we need on a daily basis. Nettle also naturally promotes the movement and release of unwanted emotional states, bacteria and toxins from the body. As our period is a big way we release and eliminate what we no longer need from our bodies as menstruators, nettle is a brilliant herb to work with throughout the cycle to support this process. 

When I work with menstruators in consultations, we go into detail looking at their menstrual history, their mother line, relationships, reproductive health and cycle tracking. I guide them through a process of assessing what needs clearing and releasing from their whole being and body and show them how to work with the rhythm of their cycle alongside herbal medicines (like this nettle tonic) to achieve easier periods. If you want to give nettle a try at home, here is the recipe we used for this tonic.


Bleeder’s Nettle Iron Tonic: Nutritious for the blood

You will need:

Handful of fresh nettles gathered from organic land around the New Moon

Handful of organic dried, unsulphured apricots

Zest from one orange

Bottle of organic red wine

A sterilised jar with a lid (size depends on how much you make)

How to make:

Roughly cut up nettle leaves with gloves and scissors

Chop apricots roughly into small pieces

Grate orange peel

Layer up all 3 ingredients into your jar

Fill the jar, covering everything in it

Put a top on and let it sit for 2 weeks

Strain near the Full Moon

How to use:

Drink half a small wine glass (60ml) every day around 20mins before your evening meal as an aperitif so it works also to stimulate your digestion and prepare your body for food.

Gratitude to Christopher Hedley who created this tonic and the Seed Sistas for sharing it with me.



Let me know how you get on and enjoy!

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