Scientific name: Urtica dioica, U. urens

While stinging nettle might be a little painful to grab (and will cause a rash), the health benefits are extraordinary. It has the ability to remedy things from gout, anemia, skin issues, rheumatism, and more. It’s certainly not something to ear raw, but absolutely may be made into tea, cooked into soup, and even made into beer. Surprisingly it has been used to make fabric and ropes as well!

A slightly strange ancient practice, which is still used today, is called urtication. To help with arthritic joints, people take the raw plant in their hand (with gloves on) and swat at the area, and the rash increases that area’s blood flow, which relieves pain. Believe it or not, this has also been used on paralyzed limbs.

Nutrients

stinging nettle

See side panel for details.

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Potassium
  • Formic acid
  • Acetylcholine
  • Sulfur
  • Betacarotene
  • Vitamin K
  • Flavonoids

Health Benefits

Nettle is used for a wide range of health issues, and it doesn’t stop here.

  • Growing pains, creaky joints: Used for growing children and seniors with achy joints.
  • PMS relief
  • Fertility aid
  • Menopause aid
  • Prostate improvement/preventative treatment: use nettle seeds or root for this.
  • Antihistamine properties: for allergies and hay fever
  • Good for the liver
  • Reproductive system aid: for men and women
  • Exhaustion remedy

Cooking Tips

As long as it is mashed, heated, or dried to destroy all nettles and formic acid, nettles can be safely eaten and drunk.

  • Steam young nettle tops
  • Mix into a soup
  • Steep as a medicinal tea
  • Blend into a smoothie
  • Throw into a stir fry like you would with spinach

Quick Remedies

(consult a doctor if experiencing any serious conditions)

CAUTION: The leaves and stems have many needle-like things which contain formic acid (the same as in a bee sting) so they do hurt when touched. After heating, drying, or mashing this chemical is destroyed.

  • Improve circulation, ease allergies: Steep fresh or dried leaves and/or roots into a tea, drinking no more than 4 cups per day. The tea is also good for achy joints, digestion, an immune system boost, and more.
  • Achy joints: apply an extract or root tincture directly to the area.

How to Grow

Planting

Where do you live?

Nettle grows easily in the wild where it has room to spread, and it will spread. As a distant relative to mint, make sure your garden is prepared so it doesn’t take over.

Put em in the ground

Make sure they’re in a place you won’t easily touch them without realizing, to avoid unwanted rashes. They’ll grow from 3-6′ tall by springtime.

  • Start seeds a month or so before the last frost for your area
  • Plant in the garden about 12″ apart
  • Moist, fertile soil
  • Partial shade

Harvest

While using gloves, harvest the tops of the stems from spring until fall as needed. For food or tea, harvest before flowering.

For ropes or fabric, harvest the entire stem but feel free to wait after seed (to allow the plant to continue growing) and before the plant begins to rot. In this case, when wearing gloves remove the leaves where harvested to provide added nutrients to the soil.

Care

  • Can be used a deterrent for keeping animals away from the rest of your garden.