Nettle is used to support and strengthen the whole body, and this makes it a tonic. It contains high amounts of minerals, such as iron, potassium and silicon, and is high in Vitamin A and C. This makes it a nutritive. It has been used through the ages to treat anemia, debility, weakness and to aid in recuperation. It is a specific in childhood eczema and also beneficial for other varieties of eczema. As a diuretic, nettle increases the flow of urine to help the body get rid of wastes and toxins. Therefore it is recommended for people with bladder infections, kidney stones, and fluid retention.
Woman may use nettle soon after childbirth as an astringent and hemostatic to help prevent hemorrhage and later on as a source of lignans it can act as a galactagogue to increase breast milk secretion. It is also a good restorative remedy during the menopausal period.
Nettle root is used in the treatment of BPH, or enlarged prostate, and also for hair loss, because it inhibits the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Because of its ability to assist in the excretion of uric acid, nettle is used to treat gout, arthritis and skin problems. Fresh juice, tincture or infusion can be used on wounds, cuts, nosebleeds, and hemorrhoids, because nettle has astringent and hemostatic actions. Nettle can reduce skin irritation and soothe burns when applied directly to the skin.
Nettle can also be used to clear catarrhal congestion and relieve allergies, such as asthma and hay fever. It has stinging hairs containing histamine and formic acid that can be used, as a rubefacient, to stimulate the circulation. It can relieve rheumatism as well.
Nettle is also used as a wild food. It can substitute for spinach in recipes, and you can add the leaves and shoots to soups and stews, or even make a soup of nettle alone. From the shoots, you can brew nettle beer. From the leaves and shoots you can make a Scottish nettle pudding or an Italian nettle pasta. Juice the leaves and shoots to produce nettle juice and use it as a vegetarian substitute for rennet in the making of cheese.
Common Name of the Herb: Nettle
Latin Name: Urtica dioica
Parts Used: whole plant
Actions: Tonic, astringent, diuretic, alterative, nutritive, rubefacient, galactagogue, expectorant, nutritive, circulatory stimulant, antirheumatic, hypotensive, eliminates uric acid, anti-inflammatory, and hemostatic
Preparation and Use: both the leaves and root of the nettle are used as infusion. Pour one cup of boiling water onto one to three teaspoons of dried nettle and leave it for ten to fifteen minutes. The dosage will depend on what the medication is for. If you use it for inflammation, allergies, and hypertension, one cup of leaf infusion is taken twice each day. Add to a salve for burns or skin irritations.
Cautions and Limitations of Use:
- Because of nettle’s hypotensive properties, it can lower the blood pressure.
- Most species have stinging hairs on the leaves and stems. If you brush against the stinging nettle on a walk, you can use the juice of the plant as an antidote. Just squeeze some out of a stem, using gloved fingers. Other measures for relief from nettle sting are yellow dock, plantain or burdock leaves, moss, damp birch bark, or baking soda which can be mixed with water into paste for emergency relief.
- Caution for all herbs and foods: Stop using if you experience symptoms of allergy. Seek emergency medical attention if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction including difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives. People who are allergic to other foods in the urticaceae family may be allergic to nettle.
- Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking prescription medications, regarding possible interactions.
- If in doubt about the safety of any herb, consult a doctor with special knowledge and experience with herbs.
- Constituents: Histamine, alkaloids, protein, fiber, acetyl-choline, serotonin, formic acid, lignans, chlorophyll, beta carotene, vitamins A, C, E and K, several of the B vitamins, tannins, volatile oils, flavonoids, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphates, and silica.
- Growing the Herb: Nettle prefers moist soil and grows either in full sun or part shade
- How to Gather: Nettle is best collected in the sprint before the flowers are in bloom. Be careful when handling the plant because of its sting. If you wish to eat the leaves, you can steam the leaves for a few minutes right after harvesting to take away the sting. Drying or crushing also removes the sting.
- Other English Common Names: stinging nettle, common nettle, gerrais, kazink, isirgan, grande ortie, ortie, ortiga, urtiga, chichicaste, and brennessel
- Where it Grows:It can be found in temperate and tropical wasteland areas around the world, especially in damper, sheltered areas such as along creek beds and in seep areas. It is naturalized in Brazil and other South American countries.
- How to Identify: Nettle grows a large main stem, two to four meters high, with its large, dark green, pointed, triangular and coarsely toothed leaves arranged in opposite pairs. It bears white to yellowish flowers, which concentrate in clusters from the leaf axils. It is known as stinging nettle because of its sting when the skin touches the bristles and hairs on the leaves and stems.