This is a guest post by By David Metz, Certified Clinical Herbalist. Stinging Nettle or Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a fundamental remedy in traditional Western Herbalism. It is an excellent all around nutritive tonic as it is high in protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber, and has a plethora of medicinal qualities. Nettle is a classic springtime cleanser, detoxifier, blood purifier, rejuvenator and energizer, and can bring your energy and vitality back after the winter months.
Nettles have a long history as a pregnancy tonic and are useful in treating anemia. Nettles can help reduce allergies, eliminate mucus, and are an excellent diuretic for edemic conditions as well as helping to eliminate gout. Nettle can also assist with arthritis, muscle soreness, kidney disease, hormone balance, menstrual issues, thyroid conditions, nerve problems, liver metabolism, and skin conditions. Overall, nettles are a great general energizing, strengthening and balancing tonic, when ingested daily.
The first spring shoots provide the most tender and easy to digest nettles. If you harvest them yourself make sure to wear gloves since the “sting” can be painful. Formic acid is what gives nettle its “sting”, and it is also what gives fire ants their “bite”. Soon after harvesting the “sting” goes away, so handling and ingesting is safer.
I cook nettles just like any other green – steamed, sautéed or boiled, and then combined with other veggies or protein of choice, or served by themselves with a little squeeze of lemon and organic grassfed butter. A tea can be made from the fresh leaves. Simply take a big handful and steep for 20 minutes or so in hot water. Then drink 2-4x’s/day. You can dry the fresh leaves and powder them, and then store in a glass bottle for future use. Add dried or powdered nettles into a smoothie or healthy daily green drink.
You can also use nettles in a cold infusion – take a handful of dry leaves, soak in water (in a quart jar) overnight in the fridge, and then strain and drink throughout the day. An alcohol tincture can be made out of fresh or dried leaves. The older plant becomes woody and is better suited for cloth or paper-making, and in fact there is a long history of use in this way. Nettles provide a healthy, inexpensive, local, fresh tonic. Give them a try. You can’t go wrong!
This is a great “old-time” recipe by Mrs. Maude Grieve
1 gallon young nettle tips (top 6 inches or so)
2 good sized leeks or onions
2 heads of broccoli or cabbage
¼ lb rice
Directions: Chop vegetables and boil until desired tenderness (put nettles in at the last minute). Strain veggies and use the water to cook the rice, adding more water if needed to the rice. When rice is cooked, add in sea salt, combine rice and veggies, season to taste, and try some grassfed butter on top.