nattle large Nettle

Nettle| Urtica dioica

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include stinging nettle, common nettle.

Nettle is pretty much known by all, indigenous in the UK, Europe, parts of Asia and parts of north Africa but has been introduced to many countries. This tall fast growing perrenial belongs to the Urticaceae family and is well known for its sting. The fresh young leaves appear in early spring (best time for harvesting for soups etc) with the drooping flower bunches appearing later in the season, producing copious seeds. It prefers nutrient rich soils such as woodland clearings, edges and hegerows but will grow in most places where the ground has been disturbed.

Nettles provide food and shelter for many insects including butterflies and young ladybirds. The leaves make a good fertiliser for plant growth.

If you keep chickens, feed them nettle as it encourages egg production.

 

Organic Nettle dried herb and tincture and Nettle root tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.

 


harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

Only use leaves from plants that are not flowering or near to flowering (flower bunches have not yet formed). Older nettle leaves produce crystals of calcium carbonate which can get stuck in the body tissues and  cause problems. Leaves should ideally be picked after any dew has dried out on a sunny day. Pick as many as you can in spring when the leaves are vibrant and young by plucking off individual leaves or by cutting off the leafy tops which will re-grow for other croppings later. Washing up gloves are fine to protect from unwanted stings.
Nettles thrive in ground rich in manure (to put it politely) so don't harvest from areas rich in manure if possible.
 
Harvest the root in the Spring or Autumn. Harvest seeds when the bunches are drooping with the weight of them, when the seeds appear either green or brown.
 
The young fresh spring leaves are edible and highly nutritious, use as a steamed leafy vegetable (like spinach) or make into a soup. Blanch the tops in boiling water to destroy the sting and add to an omelette. You could try a small handful of fresh leaves added to juices or smoothies from time to time.
 
Nettle leaves also make a great addition to beers and wines as well as being a substitute for rennet in cheese making.
 
Really decent cordage (stringy fibres) can be made from the fibres of the stems and have been used in cloth making for thousands of years. Remains of nettle cloth have been found in Bronze Age burials! Fibres can be used in paper making.

 

Organic Nettle dried herb and tincture and Nettle root tincture are available to buy in our herbal shop.


therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Nettle is very rich in nutrients and has been used traditionally as a spring tonic and traditional 'blood purifier', perfect for when you feel 'run down' or when recovering from a long illness. The tea gives an energy boost and increases vitality and stamina when taken regularly, many assert it can promote health well into old age and is a herb of longevity.

 

The nutritional content of nettle is very impressive - minerals include iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, sulphur, chromium, phosphorous, boron (essential for joint health) and vitamins A, D, K ,C and B complexes. It is also packed with chlorophyll, flavonoids and is a potent antioxidant. A daily tea of the leaves is extremely nourishing to the body and can be used by old and young alike.

 

Nettle leaf tea has an impressive array of nutrients and actions that benefit the nerves, it can help to soothe anxiety and ease depression, probably due to its richness in nutrients needed by the nervous system. Any conditions where tension and stress are an issue, nettle can help feed the nerves and ease difficulties. Restless leg syndrome and hyperactivity (and ADHD) can be helped as the nerves and muscles are nourished. Nettle would be a valuable addition in formulas to help treat many conditions affecting the nervous system such as shingles, seizures, paralysis,, multiple sclerosis, memory issues,, dementia, schizophrenia and  bi-polar. Also useful in psychosomatic illness where the mind convinces the body it has a problem.

 

Nettles' many medicinal activities serve to act as an overall tonic and organ protector, the heart, liver, pancreas, kidneys, lungs and endocrine glands (hormone producers) such as the thyroid and adrenals all benefit from regular nettle leaf consumption.

 

Lymphatic system cleanser and mucous membrane stimulant/tonic, decongestant throughout the entire body and cleanses waste from body, including the joints via kidneys.

 

It also helps in many lung conditions such as bronchitis, pleurisy, catarrh and phlegm.

 

One of the first healing stories I heard of nettle is that the Romans used to thrash their painful arthritic or rheumatic joints with fresh nettle to relieve the pain and swelling. The sting acts as a counter-irritant that increases blood flow to and from the affected area and promotes healing. This really does seem to work according to advocates of the sting but there is an easier way. Daily nettle tea can be of benefit in arthritis,  joint damage, rheumatism, bursitis, tendonitis, general backache, dislocations, spondylosis, lumbago, sciatica, rickets, uric acid build up, gout and it also has pain-killing and anti-inflammatory actions. Persistent cramps in the muscles will also ease.

 

Nettle leaf can help prevent anaemia and its symptoms of dizziness, low energy, tiredness etc.

 

Promotes healthy blood circulation and waste elimination, can help keep blood pressure normal (during pregnancy also) and promotes healthy blood vessels, both veins and arteries, aiding conditions like arteriosclerosis and atheroma when used regularly and long term. Palpitations (especially if caused by stress, anxiety or nutritional deficiencies) can be eased. Drink nettle tea when recovering from a stroke to help prevent future episodes and keep the vascular system in goo health. Excess cholesterol can also be lowered with regular nettle tea.

Varicose veins, smaller varicosities, thrombosis, phlebitis, embolisms and haemorrhoids can be healed with regular nettle tea consumption. I would use nettle in glaucoma too.

 

Nettle leaf has a tonic like action on the kidneys, supporting their function and helping with infections such as nephritis and other kidney disorders or urinary system infections such as cystitis and urethritis, kidney and bladder stones and gravel, promotes weight loss when caused by excess fluids as water retention and general oedema is eased. Nettle has a definite diuretici action, promoting larger quantities of urine being produced and excreted.

 

Nettle root is being studied for reported good results in benign prostate enlargement prostate enlargement (BPH stages 1 and 11), reducing severity of symptoms, such as difficulty urinating, that accompany the condition. Link to a study here.

 

Many menopausal issues can be helped with regular nettle tea. Adrenal glands are nourished and encourage normal oestrogen production which helps with low oestrogen symptoms such as hot flashes and menstrual irregularities. Bone density stays steady and osteoporosis can be improved due to their richness in absorbable calcium, other vital bone nutrients and its effects on metabolism. It seems to promote new bone formation also (link here) and helps heal broken bones.

 

It can be added to formulas to help support the health of the uterus and ovaries, balance and normalise menstrual cycles, to ease heavy menstruation, to shrink and clear fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries and salpingitis as well as sexually transmitted infections such as PID (pelvic inflammatory disease),

 

The  dried seeds are excellent for adrenal burnout and adrenal fatigue as well as restoring function to failing kidneys. Stories of nettle seed helping people off kidney dialysis are real.

 

Tiredness and fatigue form causes such as anaemia, adrenal burnout, cardiovascular issues and general exhaustion can benefit from nettle tea.

 

It makes a great health drink for teenagers going through puberty as it nourishes so completely, a quick boost to all systems that support the growing body. Nettle leaf, alone or with boneset herb is a superb remedy for growing pains.

 

The leaves also have an anti-diabetic effect and will safely lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes. It will also help protect the heart and other organs and systems from potential damage from blood sugar imbalances. Long term use of the tea has been known to reverse existing damage to the body caused by diabetes mellitus.

 

PREGNANCY - Nettle tea makes a fine tonic throughout the entire pregnancy but firstly it can aid fertility! It nourishes the kidneys (which work even harder through pregnancy), maintains normal blood pressure, provides great nutrition to mother and developing child, may help prevent miscarriage, eases leg cramps and tension, reduces the likelihood of haemorrhage during or after birth, reduces the incidence of haemorrhoids and increases milk supply. Use as a daily tea to promote a rich supply of breast milk. If you are worried about using herbs such as raspberry leaf in the earlier trimesters, then take nettle for the first 2 trimesters and add raspberry leaf in the last. Also useful to guard against post-natal depression.

 

Nettle leaf is also useful for calming immune system over-reactions and is a good drink against many allergies including hayfever, asthma and seasonal allergies. It restores mucous membranes to their proper state, drys out excess mucous and is anti-inflammatory to swollen tissues that contribute to overall congestion and stuffiness.. The leaf can also be made into an ointment or salve to apply on the skin for itchy and allergic skin reactions. Research paper here.

 

Due to their deep cleansing and nourishing actions they are good in stubborn skin conditions such as eczema, impetigo and psoriasis. Use the cooled tea to wash burns, scalds, grazes and other wounds to clear infection and promote healing. The tea, when taken regularly helps promote a youthful complexion and combat signs of ageing skin such as wrinkles. Chilblains can be helped and more serious conditions where flesh is decaying such as frostbite or gangrene may also benefit.

 

The leaf slows bleeding anywhere in the body due to its astringency.

 

Its rich nutritional content helps strengthen the teeth and gums and prevent toothache from cavities etc, prevent and remedy gingivitis (strong tea as a mouth wash) and cleanse blocked salivary glands and treat mumps. Nails will be strong and healthy and grow quicker too.

 

Nettles have a good reputation as a hair tonic, making a very good conditioning rinse which helps the hair retain its colour (many say it made their grey hairs disappear!) and promotes strong, healthy growth and prevents dandruff. An old remedy against hair loss and baldness (taken as a tea and massaged into the scalp regularly). Has been used as a supplementary feed to horses to give them a glossy coat.

 

Nettle leaf also protects against stomach and intestinal ulcers, it decreases excess acid secretions and contains substances that protect the mucous membrane linings. It can also be taken as a general digestive tonic. Also helps protect the liver from excessive work and irritants/poisons, helps clear jaundice and any itching that accompanies it. Strengthens abdominal muscles and tissues when they rupture or hernia occurs.

 

Nettle leaf has shown to be effective against many types of cancers including colon and rectal, melanoma, prostate and breast.

 

An informative article on nettle leaf and seeds can be found here.

 

A link to some nice recipes for nettle leaves from Countryfile.

 


 


 

 


dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

* Generally very safe for daily long term use but use caution if you are of a 'dry' nature as they can be drying. In this case combine with marshmallow root or slippery elm to add moisture to the body.

* Avoid consuming the fresh plant during pregnancy as it may stimulate the uterus.

* Too many seeds can over stimulate so start with small doses (see below) and increase if needed.

* Monitor your blood sugar regularly if taking medicines for diabetes.

* Can occasionally cause an allergy like reaction in some, if this happens discontinue use.

Adult 

 

Tincture (leaf): up to 5ml , 3 times daily.

Dried leaves in tea form: A heaped teaspoon per cup up to 3 times daily. My favourite way of taking nettle (when I feel the urge for a super boost of medicine and nutrition) is to add a heaped tablespoon or two of nettle to a large jug, add boiling water to around 1 pint or so and leave to infuse overnight. Drain off the liquid and squeeze the nettle to extract every last drop of liquid. Drink all the rich, liquid brew throughout the day, top up each cup with boiling water if you want a warming drink. For quick help use 25g of dried nettle infused for several hours in 2 pints of boiling water. Drink all the liquid throughout the day.

Dried seeds: half a teaspoon daily, gradually increase to 3 doses daily when you feel ready.

Tincture (root): for 1:5 strength tinctures take 5ml up to 3 times daily, for 1:1 fluid extract take 1.5ml up to 3 times daily

 

Children

Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.
 
 

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