Welcome back to Herbal Wisdom Wednesday! This week we are so lucky to have our new contributor Maisie giving us some wonderful info on our beloved but prickly plant ally Stinging Nettle!
Common name: Stinging Nettles
Latin Names: Urtica diocia and Urtica urens
Characteristics: There are two varieties of Stinging Nettle - Urtica docia grows taller than Urtica urens, which grows stubbier. Both varieties have square stems and grow deep green leaves. As many of you may already know, Stinging Nettles…sting. The good news is that most of the hairs that cause these painful stings are located on the plant’s stem and mostly on the bottom of the leaves, which are much lighter in color then the dark green on top. Less of the stinging hairs grow on the tops of the leaves, but still use precaution when handling. The leaves are heart shaped or more ovular in shape with a point at the end usually. The leaves have clean serrated edges. Nettles like to grow around water sources or in wet environments, especially around creeks the more inland you go.
Constituents: Formic acid is found in the fresh plant only. Galacturonic acid, ascorbic acid, histamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, choline and acetylcholine, vitamins A, C and D, iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, silica, and albuminoids are other constituents found in dry and fresh nettle.
Parts Used: The dried leaf is used in teas, to make tinctures or powdered for different uses. Dried nettles are good for the musculoskeletal system, supporting connective tissues and the hair, skin and nails. Sometimes people will make a whole plant tincture with nettle seed, leaf and root blended together. Nettle seeds are good for adrenal fatigue and contain Omega 3 and 6. Fresh leaf is used cooking or making a fresh leaf tincture, given to horses to make their coats shiny and used for stimulating blood flow to parts of the body with arthritis. Fresh nettle leaf tinctures or capsules are best for allergies. Nettle root is used to treat an enlarged prostate in tea, tincture or capsule forms. The leaves should not be eaten raw (ouch), and are usually steamed or put into soups, made into pesto or my personal favorite, as a replacement for spinach in lasagna.
My Own Nettle Blurb: My feelings for nettles have changed drastically over time. When I was young, nettles were the sneaky plants by foot paths that would always find a way to make their way onto my skin. This introduced me to using a spit poultice out of plantain when I’d get stung on a hike. I learned to not hate nettles as a food when my mom made potato nettle soup. It was one of the best soups I’ve had to this day, and after learning that they taste wonderful after being cooked, my guard around them lessened. I grew up with a family who regularly drank nettle infusions but I didn't think of drinking them myself until my low iron began to catch up with me. I've never absorbed iron properly but now that I was no longer eating meat I had to turn to dark leafy greens instead. I would be eating whole heads of kale and chard and yet my low iron began to catch up with me. My nails became spoon shaped and my immune system was running low. Not wanting to take another supplement on top of the seven I'm supposed to be taking, I finally listened to my mom about drinking my nettles. My diet hasn't changed but my daily B-complex and at least three nettle infusions or teas per week, I've noticed a drastic change. My nails are no longer weak and flimsy, the color has come back to my face and I am no longer becoming faint when I stand up to fast. Silica is great for the skin, hair and nails, and I've noticed my hair has become stronger and shinier. My favorite thing about nettles is how tasty it is! I love making an overnight infusion with some peppermint or spearmint, and sometimes some oat straw. Nettle tea is easy to prepare and a fast way to get some extra minerals in your system, especially for people on the go.
-by Maisie Moore, 2020
You can find a delicious Nettle Lasagna recipe from Learning Herbs here:
And a great list of various Nettle recipes here:
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