Tag Archives: Nettle

Natural Alternatives to Boost Iron


Vegan or not, the ability to absorb and maintain iron levels can be difficult for individuals. Although people can often be quick to blame low iron on being vegan, this is not necessarily true. I know many people who have been very low on iron and are not vegan, but being low in folic acid or B12 can also play a role.

I was low in iron when tested during my pregnancy with Zaedyn, had a PPH which led to very low iron from such a huge blood loss, managed to bring it up, but I do not know whether or not I ever rose above the “normal” iron levels. As much as I try to eat iron rich foods, I seem to be low again when recently tested. Having breastfed for almost 2 years now, looking after a very busy toddler who has not long been sleeping through the night, and being 14 weeks pregnant, I can understand why I am low as well. I suppose I do not eat a lot of processed fortified foods, and I have been making a better effort to combine vitamin C with iron. I do not usually drink juice, but I have been eating citrus fruits and drinking an organic orange juice to help.

In the past, I have talked about nettle being good for iron, but I haven’t kept up drinking nettle tea on a regular basis. I had big intentions to make sure my iron was high before conceiving, but it is a lot easier said than done. When talking with my homeopath, she had suggested Ferrum Phos 3x a day to help with iron absorption. I have found it hard to tell what works simply because the timing was also perfect with Zaedyn starting to sleep through the night, and even when my iron is low, I feel full of energy. If I was never tested, I possibly wouldn’t even know that I was low. However, the thought of being low in iron is not good when even at a normal level it can drop considerably late in pregnancy. Since I am avoiding wanting to take iron pills, unless anyone has a suggestion of a good vegan brand, I am trying to include more iron rich foods and find natural alternatives. My intentions were great, although it isn’t always easy when you go through phases of not wanting certain foods or making something quickly because I am starving.

Knowing that I would need to be tested again, I started contemplating whether there was something else I could be doing. Floradix was suggested, but when I saw that it contained wheat germ and honey, I kept looking. Then I found Floravital. This is also a liquid iron tonic, but it is yeast and gluten free, and of course vegan! There seems to be so much debate about levels or iron and some of these alternatives not being high enough compared to some pills, but then there is also debate about too high of iron and easier ability to digest and absorb liquid iron over pills. Sometimes I find it all a bit confusing and overwhelming.

Anyways, when I went to see my midwife on Tuesday, she instantly told me about a possible new way to solve my low iron: Moxa, or mugwort. I knew that she had started studying acupuncture and had mentioned the possibility of looking into it for iron, but I was excited that this did not involve needles. Moxibustion is used for all sorts, but another popular use during pregnancy is to turn breech babies.


The points to help with iron absorption, using moxa, are located below my knee and toward the outside of my shin (where the blue dot is). I also pinned an article about Pregnancy and Labour through Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion where you can click on the guidelines for using moxa and pictures of the location points under Anemia. The moxa sticks that I have are not as smoky as they used to be. After lighting the end of this black cigar like stick, the end begins to turn gray. For 10 days, I will be holding the moxa stick close to these points for 5 minutes on each side, helping to balance the Yin and Yang. You can feel the heat, but it is not painful. This is an indirect method where the moxa stick never actually touches the skin. Occasionally tap the ash off and continue until 5 minutes has passed. Then place in a jar with lid to deprive the moxa stick from oxygen, keeping it from continuing to burn.

I am no expert at all this, but I have heard about moxa previously from an Eastern Concepts class, and I am always curious and open to natural alternatives. I also need to make my way to the Herbal Clinic in Hamilton to hopefully talk with the qualified Medical Herbalists and registered natural medicine practitioners to possibly find an iron tonic or something to suit me. I get my nettle and raspberry leaf tea from there, and I suppose I might as well stock up on the raspberry leaf tea to begin at 29 weeks.

I would love to hear your thoughts on increasing or maintaining iron levels and any experiences you might like to share. I believe that there is not one right solution for everyone along with so many other factors that contribute to each individual, but I am open to ideas and am also sharing mine in case they work for you. Also, what vegan iron rich foods do you enjoy? I recently posted a new recipe for lentil dhal that we tried and am happy for you to leave links of your recipes or ones that you enjoy that are rich in iron. Hopefully I manage to increase my iron naturally 🙂

Urtica Dioica: Nettle


2 Handfuls of Nettle

Cover with boiling water and infuse overnight or at least 4 hours. Strain & drink 1-3 cups per day.

Urtica Dioica: Nettle

Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Copper, Silica, Potassium, Sulphur, Calcium, B3, B6, B complex, Vitamins C, D, & K

Also known as stinging nettle, this is a powerful herb rich in iron as well as so many vitamins and minerals for a variety of medicinal benefits and as a general health tonic. Considered a nuisance weed to some, others would be happy to find nettle growing as it can be picked from the wild with caution and then infused. I avoided the risk of getting stung and chose to buy mine from the Herbal Shop and Clinic. In all fairness, I only started drinking the tea within a couple days from giving birth to Zaedyn so I did not exactly have the time or energy to be out searching for nettle.

Why is stinging nettle so powerful for me?

     Sitting in the birthing centre with our newborn baby Zaedyn Tai and family all around, I received the phone call that I had been waiting for and was left with mixed emotions and confusion. Why? Well, after what seemed like a perfect natural childbirth with Zaedyn, things began to change quickly afterward. My placenta would not come away, and I began to fear being sent up to the one place that I wished to avoid: the hospital. I was filled with relief once Zaedyn was born into this world naturally, and never had I thought that I could possibly have a C-section or be put under just to get my placenta out. Anyways, we tried everything, but the contractions were just not there. Too much time had passed, homeopathy didn’t work at this point, and I was left to be injected as a final option before going up to the hospital. My midwife pulled on my placenta and was convinced that it was pretty stuck and wouldn’t come away. Having given it a good go, she asked for the ambulance to be rung while meanwhile I sat there concentrating and visualizing on what needed to happen. My placenta finally came away naturally, ambulance was called off, and my fear was gone only to come back again shortly. PPH, Postpartum hemorrhage. 1 Liter of blood lost, and off we went to the hospital leaving my husband, son, and family behind.

     I won’t go into detail now about my trip to the hospital as I have nothing positive to say except the fact that after a lot of convincing they finally let me transfer to the birthing centre on one condition: I needed a blood test by my midwife the following day as my iron levels were low through pregnancy and became extremely low having lost a lot of blood for a low BMI. When I received the phone call about my results, I was faced with a challenge. My hemoglobin was low, and the hospital was wanting me to have a blood transfusion. Besides not wanting to return to the hospital, I was not impressed about the idea of having a blood transfusion. In tears and surrounded by a mix of thoughts from others and myself and wanting to make sure that I could still manage breastfeeding and being a Mum, I further discussed my options with my midwife resulting in my decision not to have the transfusion. This is how I became to love nettle because I managed to get through this obstacle naturally with this powerful herb and high iron foods. I have my family to thank for being so supportive and helping me get through as well. Making me yummy wraps full of spinach and lentil sprouts & helping in every way possible. Now at 16 months, Zaedyn is still breastfed and keeping me very busy.

So why would I be infusing nettle tonight?

     Nettle is a great health tonic to help boost my iron as well as provide multiple essential vitamins and minerals for every day life. This is a herb that most people should have either growing, as a dried herb, or even in individual tea bags. Tea bags are an easy alternative if you forget to make more, or you just don’t have the time. I have a box of Claridges Botanicals Certified Organic Unbleached Nettle that can be found at Huckleberry Farms and possibly at many other health shops. Off to bed now with my tea still infusing in the kitchen, and I will be back in the morning to strain and transfer some in my cup and the rest in the fridge.