The Tongva use sachikili to cure many medical problems.  Sachikili needles produce a very powerful sting that can leave hands dulled and stunned, so the Tongva wrap their hands in mullein leaves before harvesting the leaves. Sachikili is very rich in vitamins and minerals, and the Tongva eat the leaves raw, or steam them in baskets for a few minutes.  They also remove the stinging hairs from the leaves and then rub them on sore joints and for rheumatic problems because the stinging of the nettles produces heat that soothes the area in pain.  The Tongva believe that people who suffer from rheumatic pain can improve their condition by whipping themselves with the leaves as a distraction from the pain.  They apply a poultice of leaves to the head for headaches and to sore limbs.  They also brew a tea made from the leaves and stems to heal chest colds, clean the urinary tract and alleviate internal pains. 

Sachikili is an important plant in Tongva culture for non-medicinal purposes as well.  Leaves from the plant are simmered and applied to hair to restore color. Sachikili fibers are tough and durable, so the Tongva use the fibers from the plant in basketry and cordage. They use the roots to make a yellow dye for the baskets.  During boys’ puberty rituals, the Tongva people use the leaves and stems to whip the boys who have to silently endure the stinging all over their bodies.  They also use the leaves to make paddles to whip themselves in order to wake up.

Urtica holosericea, Urtica urtica

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©  Mario Incayawar, M.D., 2010

Disclaimer: All material provided here is for educational purposes only. Consult your own physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.