The more I learn about medicinal herbs, the more I’m drawn to add them to my daily routine. I’m a big tea drinker, and while black and green tea have some terrific health benefits of their own, too much caffeine isn’t a great idea. When I want to skip the caffeine, it’s nice to have tasty and healthful alternatives. One I’d highly recommend is nettle, a wild plant (you might be tempted to call it a weed) known for its stinging parts, hence the common name stinging nettle.
But don’t let nettle’s sting deter you from enjoying the benefits of this impressive plant. Like a lot of wild greens, nettle is known both as a nutritional powerhouse and medicinal star. My go-to source for foraging, “Wildman” Steve Brill, highlights nettles’
very high levels of minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, silica, iodine, silicon, sodium, and sulfur. They also provide chlorophyll and tannin, and they’re a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and B complex vitamins. Nettles also have high levels of easily absorbable amino acids. They’re ten percent protein, more than any other vegetable.
Nettle may help alleviate seasonal allergies and help with arthritis pain. It’s also used for treating urinary issues and may help skin conditions like eczema. It’s believed to be an all-around immune booster and tonic. And it tastes great! Why wouldn’t you include this amazing herb in your tea blends?
As with most herbs, it makes sense to start with small amounts and be certain you don’t experience adverse effects. And of course if you have health conditions or are on medication, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before taking medicinal herbs. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center:
Occasional side effects include mild stomach upset, fluid retention, sweating, diarrhea, and hives or rash (mainly from topical use). It is important to be careful when handling the nettle plant because touching it can cause an allergic rash. Stinging nettle should never be applied to an open wound.
Because nettle can alter the menstrual cycle and may contribute to miscarriage, pregnant women should not use nettle.
Do not self treat with nettle for BPH [enlarged prostate]. See your doctor to receive a diagnosis and to rule out prostate cancer.
There is some evidence that stinging nettle may raise blood sugar and interfere with diabetes management. There is also evidence that it can lower blood sugar. Patients with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar closely when using stinging nettle.
Stinging nettle can have a diuretic effect. If you have kidney or bladder issues, speak with your health care provider.
Nettles may also interfere with medications for conditions like blood pressure, diabetes, and blood thinning. Consult the University of Maryland Medical Center’s drug interactions list and talk to your doctor before taking nettle.
Where to Find Nettle
Though you can grow or forage for nettle, you don’t need to harvest your own nettle in order to reap its health benefits. It’s a very inexpensive herb to buy in bulk, and a pound bag should last you a very long time (as of this writing costs only $17/pound,which is a HUGE bag of tea. You can also buy smaller amounts at your local natural food store in the bulk section). You can also get it in pre-bagged form for a little over $3/box with Subscribe and Save if you think you won’t do loose nettle leaf tea. But loose will save you a lot of money, and if you keep one of these lovely infuser cups around, making loose tea is about as easy as using a bag! You could also try a French press if you want to make more than one cup of nettle leaf at a time. You can share or put some in the fridge for another day.
How to Consume Nettle Leaf
One of the easiest ways to consume nettle is in nettle leaf tea. It makes a tasty brew reminiscent of green tea. You can make it from freshly harvested leaves or from dried nettle, readily available in most natural food stores’ bulk bins or online. You can make with just nettle, or combine it with other herbs.
Nettle Leaf Tea:
Use 1-3 teaspoons dried herb per 8oz of boiling water. (I always recommend filtering your water to remove contaminants. The knowledgeable people at Pure Living Space can help you choose the best one for your needs.) The flavor is mild, so you can combine nettles with other herbs you enjoy, like hibiscus or peppermint, and gain additional nutrients. I prefer to leave my teas brewing for at least several hours or better still, overnight. This makes a stronger tea known as an infusion that extracts more of the beneficial compounds. But if you want to brew it and drink it right away, by all means do. It’s still wonderful stuff. You might try rebrewing the leaves a second time to stretch out your supply.
You can also make tea from freshly harvested nettles by simmering them in a pan with water. Or try blanching the nettles — which lose their sting when cooked — and using them as a side dish.
An extremely nutritious vegetable, you can add steamed nettles just about anywhere you’d use spinach, in soups and stews, with eggs, or pasta dishes. Some folks like to make pestos from them. Check out some unusual recipe ideas from Little Owl Crunchy Mama
Or, if you’d like to incorporate nettle into your beauty routine, try this strengthening nettle vinegar hair rinse from the Pistachio Project.
Have you tried nettle leaf tea? Want to give it a go? Share in the comments!
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Disclaimer: I’m a health enthusiast, not a medical professional. Content on this website is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to provide personalized medical advice. I draw on numerous health sources, some of which are linked above. Please consult them for more information and a licensed professional for personalized recommendations.
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