Make an easy nettle and oat straw tea infusion for a natural source of calcium and drink a cup daily as part of your arsenal to help strengthen your bones and nails.
**November 2016 update: Sadly, my nails reverted to their ridgy, splitting selves (though not quite as bad as previously) after a year of drinking this infusion. I don’t know why it made such a difference at first and then didn’t. BUT I’ve updated the pinnable graphic above and this post to emphasize that I still drink this daily (when I’m able) because it has increased my blood calcium levels in a natural way that goes towards helping strengthen my bones as I age. It’s not the only thing I am doing to fight osteoporosis (I do weight-bearing exercises, take vitamin D to help the calcium absorb, eat dried plums, etc.), but it is something in my arsenal that I will continue to do rather than take suspect medication that may or may-not work (and does have side-effects).**
Before I started drinking this nettle and oat straw tea infusion remedy I looked at people who made their own herbal teas for health reasons as a little, you know…a little “out there.” Besides, I like regular tea – it’s my afternoon ritual that I look forward to and helps me stay at a healthy weight. When one of my sisters started brewing an herbal tea-infusion a year or so ago, drinking a quart of it a day, I couldn’t see how I’d ever fit that into my life – or why I’d want to.
But two things sent me on a quest to find a natural remedy that in the end involved an herbal tea-infusion:
- A doctor read my bone density test and said I “was very close to osteoporosis” and should start on a prescription regimen – for something that may never actually even develop (um, no, and I’m not seeing this doctor anymore- the constant push towards prescriptions for everything in medicine is really bothersome to me).
- Over the last two years (since the big “M” started) my nails had become so weak, brittle and full of ridges that I gave up growing them and just kept them short. That in itself was just irritating, but I also had a permanent split on my thumb nail that was in the pink part of the nail which would catch on things all the time and actually hurt.
So a couple months ago I asked my herb-drinking sister if she knew of something that would help with these two issues and her suggestion was a nettle and oat straw (either two words or one: oatstraw) tea (actually it is an infusion since it steeps for hours instead of minutes, but I drink it like a tea, so that’s what I call it mostly). I did a bit of my own research and read that I didn’t have to drink a quart a day to gain the benefits of these herbs (which if you can, great, as they actually help with many more things that you can read about here).
Specifically, I read that oat straw is high in silica which is a main component of our nails (source) and that nettle is rich in calcium, magnesium and vitamins that support bone health (source). (Disclosure note: I am not a medical professional, obviously, and am not providing all that these herbs can do, only giving my anecdotal evidence of how they performed for me personally. Please research them before using, and consult with a medical professional especially if you are on any other medications for things like blood pressure, etc.)
What you’ll need (affiliate links):
- bulk, organic dried nettle tea
- organic dried oat straw
- dried rose hips (optional)
- mint tea bags or loose tea
(Note: these are the exact packages I’m using – they are a good deal and last a long time. In fact I’m only halfway through the larger bags at the 2-month mark, so I’m confident in saying they will last about 4 months.)
Initial nail results:
The arrow on the left shows the divot I filed where the split used to be – now grown out into the white part of the nail and not split at all. The two arrows on the right point to my weakest nails pre-tea which are now just as rounded and healthy as the others. They were so weak before that they actually grew flat and I could often peel them from the pronounced ridges. This is the first time all the nails on this hand have been this long all at the same time in a long time. You can see I still have ridges that come with age (ah-hem…), but they aren’t as noticeable to the touch as they were and I’m hopeful the tea will continue to help minimize them.
How to make nettle and oat straw tea infusion
There are lots of different ways to make herbal infusions – amounts, time steeping, ingredients, etc. – but I’m just going to show what I do, since that has given me such great results:
- Add 1/2 cup of dried nettle leaves to a quart jar.
- Add 1/4 cup of oat straw to the jar.
- Bring a kettle of water to boil and fill the jar to the brim.
- Cover and let steep for as long as possible, up to 12 hours.
- Strain leaves, catching tea in a bowl with a spout, rinse out the quart jar and return strained tea to the jar. Store in fridge no more than 3 days.
- Drink half of the tea a day in a cup, drinking heated or iced as desired.
It takes less that 5 minutes, total. I try to make it in the evening, let it steep overnight and then strain and fridge it in the morning so it’s ready for me to drink after lunch (which is where I’ve ‘scheduled’ it so I can still have my regular tea at 4:00). Sometimes that doesn’t happen and it only steeps from 8:00 am when (I realize I forgot) until 1:00 or so. My point is, it still works with less time to steep – the key seems to be more consistency, making sure to drink some almost every day, so do what you can to drink it each day.
Soooo, the big question: how does it taste? See that little tea bag tag on the right in the steeping tea jar above? That’s part of my ‘secret’ to enjoying my cup of nettle and oat straw tea:
I add a bag of peppermint tea to the quart jar before step 3 above and let it steep with the other herbs (peppermint is well-known for it’s own benefits, as well, so it makes my infusion even better for you!). The nettle and oat straw tea doesn’t actually taste bad on it’s own – it’s hard to explain, it’s just dull and a bit strong, herb-wise (sorry – that makes hardly any sense, I know!), and the peppermint makes it seem like just a cup of peppermint tea. I also add about a half teaspoon of honey which helps me enjoy it more.
I want to make this a part of my life and look forward to it after lunch, so it’s important to make it palatable. If you don’t mind drinking it straight – go for it! I should mention my sister adds rose hips for vitamin C and says it helps it taste milder. I plan to try this, too, but I still think I’ll need a bit of honey. Update: I now add the dried rose hips and LOVE it. I add between 1-2 TB. to the jar before adding the boiling water. The dried rose hips smell SO good and their vitamin C levels are higher than many fruits! Click here to see the dried rose hips I order from Amazon.
When I find something that works so well for so little (kinda like the turmeric that has helped our dog), I can’t help but share it with you all in the hopes that any of you also dealing with nail issues or bone strength will benefit, too. It’s one of the things I like most about blogs and blogging – our modern-day equivalent of sharing our stories, remedies, successes, and failures over the back fence. Please let me know if you try this and the results you see – I’m dying to know if it works for others like it did for me!
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