When I am asked which important herbs I recommend to stock in an herbal apothecary, stinging nettle would be at the top of my list. In addition to its powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, the scientifically researched positive health impact of nettles in a variety of health challenges, should make it an essential ‘at home’ apothecary staple. The ultimate goal in my personal health quest and that of my clients is to ‘amplify’ the nutritional and health benefits of each meal, which is why I add greens and herbs like nettles at every opportunity, like my vegan pizza, shown near the end of this post.
Urtica dioica, often known as common nettle, stinging nettle or nettle leaf, or just a nettle or stinger, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the family Urticaceae. Originally native to Europe, much of temperate Asia and western North Africa, it is now found worldwide, including New Zealand and North America.
“The most recognized health benefit of using stinging nettles is activity against Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate, as well as urinary tract infections. Clinical studies suggest that Urtica spp. contain compounds that affect the hormones responsible for BPH. In addition, nettle root extract shows activity against prostate cancer cells. In therapy, nettles are usually used in combination with saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). They are also used as a home remedy for bladder infections.”
“Nettles can help alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis and joint pain, typically in the case of hands, knees, hips and spine”  “Another study conducted by Klingelhoefer et al. showed the anti-inflammatory benefits of stinging nettles against other autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis”  “Recent studies show that nettles possess anti-diabetic properties” 
“In addition, because of their anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties, stinging nettles can be used as a natural component in eczema medications. Infusions of the plant can be used for nasal and menstrual hemorrhage, diabetes, anemia, asthma, hair loss and to promote lactation”  Nettles grow all over the world, mostly considered a weed and are usually wild harvested. The tiny hairs on the stems and leaves cause a burning sensation and temporary rash when rubbed against the skin, so foraging comes with risks that may be better left to experienced foragers. Nettle possess antimicrobial activity against a variety of microorganisms. The chlorophyll rich fresh leaves contain high concentrations of vitamins A, C, D, E, F, K and P, vitamin B-complexes, large amounts of the metals selenium, zinc, iron and magnesium and lesser amounts of copper, manganese, cobalt, boron, sodium, iodine, chromium and sulphur. It is often used in animal feed due to its potent nutritional benefits. The early season fresh leaves, before the stinging hairs come out, are used in salads. Nettles are used in a variety of recipes, juices and teas. Although you can find many recipes online for using nettles, to retain the maximum benefit of the nutritional and medicinal properties, use them in recipes where they are not excessively over heated, ideally not at all. The dried leaves make a nutritious garnish sprinkled on dishes, like soups, pizzas, casseroles, eggs pesto and dips, just before serving. Make teas with warm not boiled water and steep for 20 minutes. Cool the tea and drink as a healthy iced tea adding honey and lemon if desired. Make a smaller, stronger concentration of tea and add sparkling water and lemon or lime.
The ultimate goal in my personal nutrition and that of my clients is to ‘amplify’ the nutritional and health benefits of each meal, which is why I add greens and herbs like nettles at every opportunity. The picture below of my personal size lunch pizza with sundried tomato pesto, arugula, red onion, basil and dried stinging nettle with vegan cheese. Nettle iced tea provides a refreshing, nutritious beverage. If you are interested in purchasing quality stinging nettle visit this link.
The scientifically researched positive health impact of stinging nettles against Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), also known as an enlarged prostate, as well as urinary tract infections, prostate cancer, anemia, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis makes it an essential‘ at home’ apothecary staple herb.
Enjoy researching and experimenting with stinging nettle, a ‘must have’ nutrition and healing powerhouse.
Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/
Sources:Stinging Nettle Research Papers – http://www.academia.edu/Documents/in/Stinging_Nettles
One Green Planet, How to Forage for Stinging Nettles – https://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/forage-for-stinging-nettles/#:~:text=Nettles%20are%20best%20harvested%20from,the%20top%20of%20the%20plant.
Urtica spp.: Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Properties, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6100552/
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