Main piece: Stinging nettle is a plant that stings a lot when you touch it, and leaves like welts and stuff – it’s nasty, but there’s like knowledge that there’s this plant called Dock Leaf, that you can use and it will reduce the stinging from a nettle if you just rub the leaves on wherever you were affected by the plant.
I think that they just happen to grow together, like they just grow side by side. I mean, nobody plants nettle. I think it’s just a natural occurrence that, for whatever reason, those two plants just like to grow next to each other, so you can usually find Dock Leaf if you find nettle.
Background: O’s father grew up in Malmesbury, a town in Wiltshire, England. O has been visiting her grandparents and aunt, who still live there, once every year or two since as long as she can remember. Her father and grandparents taught her about the dock leaf remedy.
Context: O started talking about visiting her family in rural England, and how she and her brother would entertain themselves there, as there isn’t much to do. She recounted a particular story where her younger brother got stinging nettle all over his body, and they did not have enough dock leaves to help him negate the pain he was feeling, but she has engaged successfully with the practice before.
Analysis: Dock leaf is a folk medicine that arises from the existence of stinging nettle. Dock leaves and stinging nettle grow in similar environments, and it has been found that rubbing dock leaves against one’s skin releases a soothing moisture (kind of like aloe). Stinging nettle and dock leaf both grow in abundance in that particular area of England, so it makes sense that other plants surrounding stinging nettle could be sought after/experimented with for a cure. O and her family continue to use dock leaf to combat nettle stings, both because dock leaf is often found nearby (instead of having to go back to the house to grab other medicine), and it can abate some of the immediate effects more quickly. (For another version, see Sutter, May 18, 2020, “Stinging Nettle Plant Remedy”, USC Folklore Archives).