Top 10 Uses for Stinging Nettle

Top 10 Uses for stinging nettle Top 10 Uses for Stinging Nettle

When I was a child, I was deathly afraid of stinging nettle. You too? Some of us still are! And why not, with that infamous sting it delivers! If it feels like an ant bite, it’s because nettle’s formic acid is the same as in an ant’s salivary glands. Not exactly rolling out the welcome mat for us, is it? Luckily drying or cooking the nettle plant will neutralize the formic acid, making it safe to handle and ingest. And there are so many reasons to use this plant, I would definitely urge us all not to judge this book by its cover.

I have truly loved learning of nettle’s wonderful, rich history and many medicinal and nutritional benefits. Fortunately, these benefits have been widely known to many different cultures for centuries, which have used it wisely and taught us much. A quote from referring to nettle that resonates with me is:

“Probably no other wild plant so perfectly demonstrates the change of attitude one experiences toward weeds when their virtues become known.”

Nettle’s Latin name is Urtica dioica, which comes from uro, ‘to burn’, and dioica, meaning ‘two houses’. ‘Two houses’ refers to the male and female flowers that are normally carried on separate plants, and I think the ‘burn’ part is obvious. icon smile Top 10 Uses for Stinging Nettle Found often in ditch banks and waste places, it’s no wonder many people consider nettle a harmful pest-like weed, not to mention its sting. However, more rests with nettle than meets the eye. On her website, Austrian herbalist Maria Treben quotes a physician who said:

Stinging Nettle is one of our most valuable medicinal herbs. Mankind does not realize how valuable it is or it would plant stinging nettles only.”

High praise for a little plant!

Because of nettle’s powerhouse of chemical compounds, it is one of the most superior medicinal and nutritive herbs we have today. Here are my top ten uses for stinging nettle and why I’d feel just dandy about planting stinging nettle in my herb garden.

Top 10 Uses for Stinging Nettle

1. One of nettle’s chief actions is that of an anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic herb, making it a wonderful herb for arthritis, rheumatism, gout, and bursitis. The greatest results come from using the fresh leaves in ‘urtification‘, similar to apitherapy, which is using bee stings for the treatment of arthritis.  Although it might sound a little harsh, the practice of flogging one’s skin with fresh nettle leaves has long been used to help with rheumatism and arthritis, lethargy, paralysis, going back to even Roman times.

The anti-inflammatory action in nettle is fascinating. As Dr. James Duke explains, as someone receive microinjections of histamine and acetylcholine, the body begins an antihistaminic response to the histamine, and in the process, some of those antihistamines go to the parts of the body afflicted with arthritic pain, easing the inflammation present. Voila! Our bodies work so well with herbs!

2. Nettle helps the symptoms of hay fever quite well. It is a potent anti-allergy agent and decongestant because it blocks three different things: histamine receptors, prostaglandin production, and the release of enzymes from mast cells. Nettle opens up bronchial and nasal passages and helps clear up the phlegm there and in the lungs, reducing the symptoms of common allergies and hay fever, as well as bronchitis, tuberculosis and asthma.

3. One of the most popular medicinal uses of nettle root today is with benign prostatic hyperplasia, (BPH) stages I and II, or enlargement of the prostate gland. While nettle does not reduce the size of the enlarged prostate, it does affect hormones and proteins that carry sex hormones in the body. This is important because BPH is hormonal in nature. Nettle is shown to be effective at relieving the symptoms of BPH as well.

4. Nettle is one of our best blood-building herbs because of its stimulating effect on the lymphatic system. People have recognized its value as a spring tonic and alterative for centuries, using it for anemia, hives, chlorosis, and skin eruptions like eczema and acne.

5. The bladder and kidneys are very positively affected by nettle, which helps the body better eliminate toxins and metabolic wastes, stay free of gravel, stones, and keep the kidney and bladder free from infections. Women, for the water retention often associated with PMS, drink a tea 7 to 10 days before your cycle begins that is made of 2 parts dandelion leaf, 1 part uva-ursi, 3 parts nettle leaf, and 1 part chickweed leaf.

6. Nettle helps control bleeding and hemorrhages. Taken as a tea or tincture, it will help stop internal bleeding. To help external bleeding, use the tea as a wash, or apply the pulped leaves or powdered root over a wound.

7. Sciatica, neuralgia, lumbago, sprains, tendonitis, burns, and scalds have all been helped with nettle. It is taken either internally as a tea, or used as a poultice or fomentation externally. You can also lightly brush the affected parts of the body with the fresh leaves.

8. Nettle teas and vinegars help improve hair texture and health, regenerate hair growth, restore original hair color, and promote a healthy gloss. I myself have made my own nettle hair rinse, and it feels marvelous to be infusing my hair with such natural conditioning.

To make your own nettle hair rinse with fresh nettle leaves: Wear gloves to cut big handfuls of the nettle leaves. Wash leaves thoroughly and put the bunch in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan with enough cold water to cover them. Bring to a low boil, cover and simmer 15 min. Strain the liquid into another container and cool. Use it as a final rinse after washing your hair. Keep in small bottles in the fridge.

9. Eat nettle! I have used it in smoothies, soups, you name it. Absolutely packed with nutrition, (especially natural calcium), this plant could totally replace your spinach leaves if needed.  Donkeys are the only animal that will eat live nettle, but dried into an appetizing hay, it is a very valuable source of food and fodder for livestock too.

10. Nettle is great for the garden. As a companion plant, it helps tomatoes become more resistant to disease and wilting. So go find yourselves some nettle, and plant it next to those luscious tomato plants in your garden! It also helps other plants like valerian to increase its essential oil content.  Compost piles also benefit from nettle because you will see more humus in the soil. Mix nettle and water and make a nice organic manure within 3-4 weeks. Nettle also encourages beneficial insects while keeping out unwanted flies.

I hope that you’ll keep some nettle on hand for any one of these reasons, and maybe you could benefit from all of them! It would be fun to see nettle rise in the ranks of medical preparedness herbs because it certainly deserves such an honor. And perhaps eventually mankind will realize all of nettle’s virtues and we’ll see it pop up in gardens everywhere.



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