Stinging Nettle

STINGING NETTLE                        

 FAMILY: URTICACEA                            

URTICA DIOCA

Stinging Nettle is a noxious weed especially to farmers.

Be aware, not all Nettles are created equal.

Learn to identify this plant.

It could become your best friend in the garden.

This nutrient rich plant is a beneficial companion plant in the garden.

Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle for skin complaints, blood cleanser, arthritic pain and stems internal bleeding.

 

Nettles are noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) basic (alkaline) soils.

It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.

It requires moist soil.

The plant can tolerate strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Originally from Britain, Northern Europe and Asia stinging nettle is found wild in both Australia and New Zealand in wastelands, grassland and cultivated land.

 

Subspecies gracilis grows in similar situations and seems to have been introduced from North America.

Drought and frost resistant.

Stinging Nettles are grown from seed division.

– Sow seed in spring in a cold frame, only just covering the seed.

Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle, and plant them out in the summer.

Division succeeds almost any time in the growing season.

Plant them straight out into their permanent positions.

Harvest with gloves that cover arms as well

Harvest Stinging Nettle with gloves that cover arms as well

Wear stout gloves when harvesting stinging nettle to prevent being stung.

Cooking the leaves, or thoroughly drying them, neutralizes the sting, rendering the leaf safe to eat.

Dock leaf can be used as an antidote to the sting by rubbing over the affected area.

And the juice of the nettle can be used as an antidote to stings from the leaves as well.

An infusion of the fresh leaves is healing and soothing as a lotion for burns.

The young shoots, harvested in the spring when 15 – 20cm long complete with the underground stem are very nice.

Old leaves can be laxative.

The plants are collected during or just prior to flowering.

The plants are harvested commercially for extraction of the chlorophyll, which is used as a green colouring agent (E140) in foods and medicines.

 

A tea made from the dried leaves is warming on a winter day.

A bland flavour it can be blended as a tonic with lemon and rosemary.

The juice of the leaves, or a decoction of the herb, can be used as a rennet substitute in curdling plant milks.

Nettle beer is brewed from the young shoots.

For eating, young shoots should be collected early in the spring before the silica crystals develop and make the nettle taste gritty.

Young leaves can be cooked as a potherb and added to soups.

Stinging Nettles are one of the most undervalued of economic plants.

They have a wide range of uses, for food, medicines, fibres etc and are also a very important plant for wildlife.

It is said that cutting the plant down three times a year for three years will kill it.

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Dried Stinging Nettle has much less sting

 

Stinging Nettles will grow vigorously and require containment.

Stinging nettle is a great addition to the garden enhancing the growth and health of near by plants.

Nutrient rich a super food stinging nettle is much maligned.

However it is a good companion plant to grow in the orchard and among soft fruit so long as it is not allowed to totally over-run the plants.

It seems to improve the health of soft fruit that grows nearby and also to protect the fruit from birds, but it makes harvesting very difficult.

 

A strong flax-like fibre is obtained from the stems.

Used for making string and cloth it also makes a good quality paper.

It is harvested as the plant begins to die down in early autumn and is retted before the fibres are extracted.

The plant matter left over after the fibres have been extracted are a good source of biomass and have been used in the manufacture of sugar, starch, protein and ethyl alcohol.

 

Stinging Nettles can be added to the compost heap to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost.

The leaves can be soaked for 7 – 21 days in water to make a very nutritious liquid feed for plants.

This liquid feed is both insect repellent and a good foliage feed.

The growing plant increases the essential oil content of other nearby plants, thus making them more resistant to insect pests.

Although many different species of insects feed on nettles, flies are repelled by the plant so a bunch of freshly cut stems can be used as a repellent in food cupboards.

The juice of the plant, or a decoction formed by boiling the herb in a strong solution of salt, will curdle milk and thus acts as a rennet substitute.

This same juice, if rubbed into small seams of leaky wooden tubs, will coagulate and make the tub watertight again.

A hair wash made from the infused leaves can be used as a tonic and anti-dandruff treatment.

A beautiful and permanent green dye is obtained from a decoction of the leaves and stems.

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Stinging Nettle Tea a blood cleanser

Stinging Nettle a blood cleanser and for Skin complaints

A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used as a cleansing tonic and blood purifier so the plant is often used in the treatment of hay fever and arthritis.

  • An infusion of the plant is very valuable in stemming internal bleeding
  • Treating skin complaints
  • Arthritic pain
  • Gout
  • Sciatica
  • Neuralgia and haemorrhoids’
  • The fresh leaves of nettles can be rubbed or beaten onto the skin in the treatment of rheumatism.

This practice causes intense irritation to the skin as it is stung by the nettles.

It is believed that this treatment works in two ways.

Firstly, it acts as a counter-irritant, bringing more blood to the area to help remove the toxins that cause rheumatism.

Secondly, the formic acid from the nettles is believed to have a beneficial effect upon the rheumatic joints.

Active constituents include

Flavonoids,

Amines,

Tannins,

Sterols,

Lignans,

Lectins,

Amino acids,

Vitamins A, B2, B9, C, E,

Carotenoids,

Chlorophyll,

Beta-carotene and

Vitamin K.

Fresh extracts also include

Vitamin B1.

Minerals include a high amount of

Calcium,

Potassium,

Silicic acid and

Iron,

Manganese and

Copper.

Nettles actions are

Anti-haemorrhagic – tannins and vitamin K.

Diuretic,

Circulatory stimulant,

Alterative nutritive tonic,

Hypoglycaemic and

Galactogue.

The impressive list of nutritive constituents explains the traditional use of stinging nettles as a spring tonic to supply nourishment in times when other food sources are scarce and after the winter tapping of the body’s nutritional resources.

The co-existence of vitamin C with the iron allows for good absorption and better availability of the iron.

Scientific evaluation has proven the increased excretion of uric acid aids people who suffer from gout.

Nettle is also useful in prostatic enlargement with definite improvement in symptoms experienced.

German studies using nettles with other herbs to treat racehorses with severe coughs and nasal mucus problems, were positive.

The main use today is due to its alterative properties where kidney excretion of metabolic acid waste

is stimulated, and to its circulatory stimulant action which encourages better perfusion of tissues,

so carrying nutrients IN and metabolic waste OUT.

 Stinging Nettles will also stimulate lactation in nursing mothers; can be used in the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, ulcers and wounds.

Dry powered nettles can be used as a snuff for a bleeding nose, or on bleeding wounds.

 

STINGING NETTLES IN THE KITCHEN

Lightly brown sesame seeds under the grill, add equal parts of roasted sesame seeds, dried nettle, granulated kelp and dried thyme.

Grind with a mortar and pestle.

This makes a yummy spread and is a good substitute for salt.

Add olive oil to make a paste if desired.

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Stinging Nettle Spread

This is as tasty as pesto but nicer.

 

RICH RUSSIAN STINGING NETTLE TONIC

4 cups of nettle tops

1 cup of water

2 cloves of garlic

½ cup yoghurt

salt to taste

Cook the nettles in water until tender, about 15 minutes.

Drain and blend all ingredients together and serve poured over rice, vegetables or noodles.

For soup retain the nettle water and add sour cream and garlic and reheat but do not boil.

This tonic will give you plenty of get up and go.

 

STINGING NETTLE HAIR TONIC

120g fresh nettles or 30g dried nettles

4 cups of boiling water

60mls of vinegar

3 drops of your favourite essential oil

Pour boiling water over herbs and leave overnight.

Strain out liquid the next day and add oil and vinegar.

Pour into a bottle and keep in the fridge.

Use as a hair rinse after shampoo and conditioner.

Do not wash out – this will strengthen the hair and eliminate dandruff.

This mixture has been used in preventing hair loss during chemotherapy and in restoring hair growth afterwards.

 

STINGING NETTLE HAIR RESCUE

Take 1 entire plant – leaves, stalk, seeds and root.

Blend until completely broken down.

Place in a sterilised jar and pour over 500mls of olive oil to cover.

Shake jar to remove air bubbles and leave for 4-6 weeks.

Shake daily to make sure all plant material is covered in oil.

Strain out plant material and bottle the oil.

How To Use

Massage into scalp and leave overnight.

Wash out in the morning and rinse with hair lotion.

This can be used as often as required or as a pick-me-up tonic for your hair once a week.

Nettles Face

Nettles Facial Cleanser

 STINGING NETTLE FACE PURIFYING CLEANSER

500ml fresh nettles

1 1/2 cups water

1 whole lemon chopped finely

Simmer leaves and lemon in water for ten minutes.

Strain and remove plant material.

Blend this brew with equal parts of aqueous cream.

Place in sterilized jar and keep refridgerated.

This is great for acne, blemishes and freckles.

Great for teenagers – nettle reduces oily build up.

 

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Gauze Nettle Face Pack

 

STINGING NETTLES FACE PACK

Steam face with nettle water – place towel over head and head over bowl of hot infusion. Making sure towel covers bowl.

Then apply face pack.

Leave on for 10 minutes.

Finish with a rinse of lemon water.

Weekly use of this recipe will reduce blemishes, loss of skin elasticity and sun damage.

Have you used Stinging Nettles?

If so I would love to hear your thoughts on this plant.

Have any questions? 

Love to hear your comments. 

If you found this article useful please feel free to share with your friends and like me on Facebook.

 

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Deborah Harper

Article by Debbie Harper

Debbie Harper is a self-published author and an accomplished blogger. She's the founder of www.happyhomesnz.com and the author of the book “The Number #1 Rule for a Long and Healthy Life”. If you like this post, you can stay up to date with the latest information from www.happyhomesnz.com by subscribing via RSS, or receive articles directly in your inbox. Then click here to download a free report on "The Number #1 Rule for a Long and Healthy Life".