15 Dec 2009

Stinging Nettles

It is a shame that many look on the stinging nettle plant as just a weed to avoid in case they are stung and nothing else. Nettles have medicinal, nutritional, beauty and culinary uses. Ancient cultures recognised this and slowly modern man is doing the same.

Nettles (Urtica dioica, Urtica urens) are high in the minerals calcium, magnesium, chromium, potassium, iodine, zinc and silica. They contain Vitamins A, B, C, and K, are high in beta carotene and are one of the most powerful iron sources in the vegetable kingdom..

Nettles are known as a tonic, blood cleanser, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, anti-asthmatic, and anti-inflammatory. They are available as fresh leaves, dried leaves, freeze-dried leaves, tea, capsules, extract and tincture.

Medically nettle tea is used, with excellent results, to reduce blood pressure and to relieve premenstrual bloating.. The tea is also drunk as an arthritis treatment, as it is said to break down uric acid crystals in joints, and has an anti-inflammatory component . Nettles are an official remedy for rheumatism in Germany. Drinking the juice of the roots or leaves, or burning the dried leaves is said to relieve bronchial or asthmatic problems.

Nettles are good for the hair. Eating nettles or drinking the tea makes your hair brighter, thicker and shinier. The silicon contained in nettles is one of the reasons that makes nettle hair rinses so nourishing for the hair. Nettles have also been reported to be excellent in increasing bone density (see link to David Wolfe's article below). Due to nettles astringent qualities it is also used for facial steams and as a deep cleanser for oily skin.

In the kitchen fresh nettles can be cooked and served the same as spinach. They are high in protein. Nettle infused vinegar is also used due to it being very nourishing with all the minerals that the vinegar has leached from the nettles. Nettles has many other uses. They can be made into paper, cloth and rope and their juice used as a yellow/green dye. They are also used as a vegetarian rennet in cheese making. On top of everything else, gardeners love nettles as a natural, effective, aphid killer and for riding roses of black spot.

1) Those collecting fresh stinging nettles must e careful and wear protection or they could get stung.
2) Eat nettles in moderation, as they can cause constipation or stomach ache if eaten in excess.
3) Not to be taken during pregnancy.

Further reading:
Picking Stinging Nettles (Video)
Tips from David Wolfe to Increase Bone Density

Nettle Rinse

1 cup nettle tops or 1/2 cup dried nettles
2 cups water

Simmer nettles in water for 15 minutes. Leave to get cold, bottle. Apply a cup to washed hair, do not rinse, dry hair. Keep balance in fridge until required again.

Dandruff Treatment

1 cup nettle tops or 1/2 cup dried nettles
1 cup cider vinegar

Simmer fresh nettles in vinegar for 30 minutes. Rub into the scalp twice a week to eliminate/prevent dandruff.

Nettle and Potato Soup
From Wild Health Food

1 leek, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cups organic veggie stock
3 large potatoes, diced
3 cups nettle leaves, washed
2 bay leaves

Fry leek, garlic and onion in olive oil until soft. Add stock and other ingredients. Simmer slowly until soft. To serve. Add yoghurt to each bowl.


Marion said...

I've drunk nettle tea for years...I knew it was good for me, but I didn't realize how good! Thanks for another informative and succinct post, Jackie! In my opinion, this is one of the best blogs around for info on Herbs...Thank you!

kevin said...

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jan said...

I have been fighting something that looks like this picture and stings when you touch it. Must investigate. Will I be harvesting and not fighting?

Alisa said...

Another informational blog; you are amazing Jackie!

Lauri Ann said...

You come up with some of the most uncommon stuff! I love it! I learn quite a bit from you every time I visit. I will have to do it more often. This is really quite good. I never even knew about nettles and I consider myself to be pretty knowledgable about health. (I just can't spell. LOL)