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Nettle: An Incredibly Versatile Herb

If you are looking to stock your herbal medicine cabinet, nettle leaf is a staple for this purpose. The herb is considered a “spring tonic,” since that is when it is traditionally harvested and it has so many medicinal uses.

It is inexpensive to buy dried nettle, but it can be harvested yourself, if you’d like (just make sure to wear gloves). If you can’t find anywhere to harvest nettle, you can plant it at home in a pot. It can be invasive when planted directly in the ground, though, and the last thing you want is a yard full of a plant that hurts when you touch it.

nettle

Topical Uses for Nettle

Hair – Stinging nettle is regularly incorporated into oooos and hair rinses, as it reduces oil and dandruff, adds shine, and encourages hair growth. If you use a shampoo bar on your hair, consider making an herbal vinegar rinse using nettle as your herb.

Wound Treatment – Nettle leaf can be infused in oil to make a salve for burns and other wounds. The juice from the nettle plant is useful for treating bug bites, bee stings and even a sting from the nettle plant itself! A nettle rinse can be used to soothe a painful sunburn or other types of wounds.

Nettle Compress – To soothe the pain of menstrual cramps, sprains and arthritic joints, a nettle compress can be applied.

Nettle Tea Should Be Part of Your Daily Routine

This mild tasting tea has a plethora of uses:

  • Reduces allergy symptoms
  • Treats symptoms of the digestive tract
  • Maintains healthy kidneys and urinary tract
  • Reduces gout symptoms
  • Eases joint pain associated with arthritis
  • Reduces fluid retention
  • Helps detoxify the body overall
  • Can treat an enlarged prostate

Nettle is also a valuable source of vitamins, including A, B1, B2, B3, B5, C, D, E & K; and minerals, including calcium, chromium, iron (nettles are often used to treat anemia), silica, magnesium, potassium, selenium & zinc. Drinking a tea made with nettle is an easy way to supplement your diet without taking vitamins.

How to make nettle tea

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons dried nettle leaf (try adding ginger and cinnamon for some extra anti-inflammatory action)
  • coffee filter
  • 1 lemon slice (optional)
  • 12 oz water

Scoop your herbs into the coffee filter and secure to the side of your mug, like so. Drop the lemon slice into the cup and pour your boiling water over your “teabag.” Cover your mug with something (I just use an old plastic butter container for this) to keep the steam from escaping and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Make a double batch if you like, and refrigerate the other half for later. Drink within 24 hours, or the benefits will start to fade.

Nettle Leaf Can Be Eaten Like a Vegetable

Harvest young leaves and make sure to soak, steam or cook nettle long enough to blunt the stingers, or dinner will be an unpleasant experience. Nettle is mildly flavored, like spinach, so you can use it as you would any other kind of green leafy vegetable in your soups, pastas, eggs, etc. As mentioned above, nettle is high in vitamins and minerals, but it also has dietary fiber and is high in protein (for a vegetable).

Some people should avoid consuming nettles

If you have low blood pressure, nettle should be avoided. I have read conflicting information over whether nettles are safe during pregnancy and lactation, so I can’t say if they are or not. Please consult your physician before beginning regular use of this herb to ensure it will not counteract any medications or interfere with any medical conditions you may have.

Sources:
Stinging Nettle
Just Say No to Synthetic Vitamins and Processed Foods!
Urtica dioica
Info About Nettle

Image via H Matthew Howarth, Flickr