What Are They?
Stinging nettles are a spring time plant that pops up in ditches, and areas with moist, nutritious soil. They are covered in tiny bristles that are actually hollow needles which sting when touched. Most people consider them a weed but nettles are actually a wonderfully healing herb with amazing properties.
What Can They Do?
Nettles are high in minerals. They contain Vitamin K for clotting, Iron for anemia, Silica for healing skin, Beta Carotene for eye health, Vitamins A + B for immune health and metabolization as well as Chlorophyll . Nettles are great for post pregnancy to stop bleeding and to fortify the blood with iron to prevent anemia. They are a great way to get minerals into the body including boron which helps to retain calcium for stronger bones.
Nettles reduce pain and increase the efficacy of NSAIDs like aspirin and IBuprophen.
Juice of the leaves acts as a diuretic which is helpful for people with BPH (benign prostate hypertrophy) as well as high blood pressure (Hypertension). The juice will also get rid of warts and regenerate hair when applied topically.
Nettles have been shown to reduce cancer in patients with prostate cancer. It is an antioxidant which is great for people with heart issues.
Nettle supplementation in combination with Saw Palmetto is as effective as taking the pharmaceutical Fenasteride for BPH.
Lowering blood sugar is important for people with Diabetes and nettles act to improve the body's glycemic control.
What Else Do They Treat?
Nettles are used to treat all sorts of conditions: Benign prostate hypertrophy, High Blood Pressure, Pain, Anemia, Arthritis, Bursitis, Rheumatism, Hay Fever, Seasonal Allergies, Asthma, Nose Bleeds, Cancer, Gout, Tendonitis, Fibroids, Dysmenorrhea and Diabetes.
Wow... What a list!
If you suffer from Seasonal Allergies, nettles are a great way to end the congestion, runny nose and itchy eyes. Nettle tea has been shown to relieve seasonal allergies: 2-3 cups per day.
How Can I Harvest Them?
Nettles grow all over in the spring. They like damp soil along ditches but can grow in large patches that get sun. Look in the woods, or an area with a stream.
They have a serrated leaf, that looks a bit like a mint plant with bigger leaves. The stems have a "fur" on them which is the stinging part, so be careful!
To harvest, use only the small young plants, or cut the top 2-6 leaves off of the larger ones. Put them in a bag and bring them home.
How Do I Use Them?
Nettle Tea: add fresh or dried nettles to a cup and add boiling water to the top. Steep covered for 5 minutes. You can mix nettles with other herbs like mint or even roiboos to create a flavor that you love!
Fresh Nettle Juice: if you have a juicer you can make nettle juice. Combine them with other green juice vegetables like: cabbage, romaine, watercress, celery and green apple for a delicious and mineral rich infusion.
Dried: Nettles can be dried in a dehydrator or by placing them in a paper bag and sticking them somewhere warm, like the furnace room. After they are dried they can be stored in glass containers and used as tea or added to food as you would any other herb.
In Soup: I love to add nettles to soup and then blend it up with a hand blender. In this recipe I added nettles to hippocrates soup with some homemade saurkraut and the outcome was delicious.
Enjoy springtime by getting out and gathering some nettles. They are a beautiful and loving plant that has a lot to offer us healthwise when we are open and receptive to their gifts. Enjoy!
Dr. Ariel Jones ND