Stinging Nettle – Nature’s funny way of working.
Most of us cross stinging nettle’s path when out hiking and enjoying our time outdoors. Contact with bare skin results in small hairs from the leaves breaking off in your skin. These hairs inject formic acid and histamine. The chemical combination produces a rash and a burning or stinging sensation. If you happen to be allergic to it, stinging nettle can cause swelling.
As uncomfortable or even as severe as the symptoms can be in some cases, stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is one plant you actually WANT in your life!
The benefits far exceed the negatives:
As A Medicine
- Antihistamine – Nettle is an excellent remedy for alleviating environmental allergy symptoms! Yes, the stinging nettles that get you every time you go hiking actually helps relieve pollen symptoms such as stuffy, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, etc.
- Vitamins – Those nutrients mentioned earlier make stinging nettle nature’s multi-vitamin.
The freeze dried form keeps the active constituents effective. They come in capsule form and are found in most local herbal shops.
For centuries nettle has been used for blood purification, as a relief or arthritis, to stimulate the digestive system and even to help with lactation in new mothers.
As A Food or Drink
The leaves, stem and roots of the stinging nettle are edible. Cooking, soaking the leaves in water and drying them will remove the chemicals allowing them to be handled. Leaves taste similar to spinach and are packed with nutrients including vitamins A and C. Nettle is also ideal for making teas and even beer!
As A Gardening Aid
While nettle is a weed (and can get out of control easily) it does have some beneficial properties. It prefers to grow in phosphorus and nitrogen rich soils – soil also favored by vegetables – so nettle plants are an excellent indicator of fertile soil. It may encourage beneficial insects and makes a good a compost activator.
As A Textile
Nettle stems contain something called a bast. Bast is a fibrous material from the phloem of a plant. While coarse, it is strong and has been used traditionally to make clothing. It’s similar to hemp.
Stinging nettle might be one of nature’s best weeds. Fast growing, plentiful and packed with benefits.
If you want to know more about this miracle plant and how it can help you, contact me!