Stinging Nettle Plant and How to Use it

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PhotobucketStinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

For everyone from folk to professional herbalists, the stinging nettle is a favorite due to its nutritional value and its wide array of medicinal uses.  

Found: Most of North America; in waste areas and in moist soil. 

Identifying:  Leaves of this plant are mostly oval, finely toothed, with the bases slightly heart-shaped.  Greenish flowers that grow in branched clusters.  The plant contains stiff hairs that give the skin a stinging sensation.  Perennial 12 – 50 inches tall.  Flowers from June to September.

Parts Used: Whole Plant

Harvesting:  Harvest on clear days in the morning, after dew is dried.  Cut plant off just above the root and don’t use damaged or insect-eaten leaves.  Tie in bunches of 6 – 10 plants.  Fan out as best you can and hang the bunches.  You can dry them outdoors, but put the plants in partial shade and bring indoors before dew settles for evening.  For indoor drying, hang in sunny or warm well-ventilated room.  Store in sealed containers.

Medicinal Uses:  Europeans use leaf tea as a blood purifier.  Diuretic, astringent, anemia, arthritis, gout, glandular diseases, rheumatism, poor circulation, enlarged spleen, mucous discharge from the lungs, internal bleeding, diarrhea, dysentery.  Aids blood coagulation, formation of hemoglobin in red blood corpuscles.  Antibacterial.  Inhibits effects of adrenaline.  Germans use root to treat prostate cancer.  Has shown to aid in hay fever.  Cool tea used for urinary issues.  Alleviates swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland; often blended with saw palmetto.  Useful during pregnancy to build the blood, relieving fatigue.  The root is often used to increase sex drive in both men and women.  Root extract is helpful for lupus patients to stop damaging tissue changes.

What Makes it Work:  Nettle contains formic acid, its main medicinal quality.

Nutrients:  Rich in Iron; leaves often cooked and eaten as food.  Also rich in chlorophyll and minerals.  One of the most nutrient-rich foods known!  Great source of complete protein.

Allergic Reactions:  Live plants sting when touched – rubbing Rosemary, Mint or Sage leaves on the affected area takes the sting out.  Dried plant is safe and does not sting.  For people who have overindulged in large amounts of strong nettle tea, a burning sensation throughout the body has been reported.

Interesting Notes:  Nettle fibers are similar to Hemp and Flax, and were used in the past for weaving fabrics.

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