Stinging Nettle: More than a Childhood Foe
I love nettles. If stranded on a desert island, nettle would be one of my must have herbs. There are many species of nettle, the one we are most familiar with here in the United States is Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica).
Most people know this plant best from a childhood experience where they may have run through a wood and found themselves near a stream in a drift of plants that caused their legs to burn and itch. This leads many to think that they want to stay as far away from the plant as possible. Trust me, there is so much more to this wonderful plant than those childhood impressions.
Nettles have many benefits and can be used in many ways. Here is another article on identifying, harvesting, and eating stinging nettle.
Stinging Nettle: 9 Healthy Uses
Steamed Greens (Fresh Leaf)
Steamed and tossed with dressing, serve fresh nettles as a side dish. You can also combine nettles with chopped almonds and feta for use as a delicious salad topping. The taste of steamed nettles is like a cleaner, brighter, richer spinach.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplement (Leaf)
Nettles contain high levels of minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, and sulfur. They are very high in chlorophyll so its perfect when used to address low energy levels. Nettles are a good source of Vitamin C, beta carotene, and the vitamins in the B-Complex. They are one of the highest vegetable sources of protein.
Urinary Tract Tonic (Leaf and Root)
Nettle tea is a healthy and safe diuretic, moving water through our kidneys and helping to remove toxicity from our blood. (Find organic nettle leaf tea here.) The root is also most successful in treating problems with the prostate. (Find organic nettle root for making a prostate tea.)
Allergy Support (Leaf)
Nettle tea or tincture are beneficial for allergies and asthma. If you want the best protection for seasonal allergies, try it freeze-dried in capsules and taken as directed. (Find organic nettle capsules here.)
Reproductive Tonic (Leaf)
A superior tonic in pregnancy, this overlooked plant can help the body maintain circulatory health and appropriate hemoglobin levels during pregnancy.
Gout and Arthritis Support (Fresh Plant)
While one can drink a cup of nettle tea to help with gout and arthritis because of its diuretic properties, there are some who would use the fresh plant as an external remedy in these cases. Striking the offending joint with fresh nettles (known as urtification) causes a surface irritation that helps move away the pain-causing crystals stuck in your joints. A remedy for the brave at heart only!
Paper (Leaf, Stem)
Did you know you can use nettle pulp to make paper? The plants are very fibrous and they make a beautiful base for homemade paper.
Cloth (Leaf, Stem)
Madame Grieve, the writer of one of our historical herbals, tells us that in 16th and 17th century Scotland the plants were highly sought after for the making of fiber needed for household goods. It is reported to be very high quality fabric, though a bit harder to process than something more commonly used today, such as cotton.
Yep, nettle even has a historical place at the bar. Of the more crafty uses of nettles, beer and handmade paper are the ones I am most excited to try.
How do you use nettles? Do you keep a supply of nettle at home for your health, or have you eaten it fresh? Share below!