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Nettle as an Herb

Nettle as an Herb

Urtica dioica

Nettle, according to its fans, has many uses, including reduction of fever and symptoms of the common cold. Now, nettle is gaining popularity as a weight loss aid.

Stinging nettle has a long medicinal history.

Nettle is a very high source of digestible iron.

Nettle as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

In medieval Europe, nettle was used as a diuretic (to rid the body of excess water) and to treat joint pain.

While the hairs, or spines, of the stinging nettle are normally very painful to the touch, when they come into contact with a painful area of the body, they can actually decrease the original pain. Scientists think nettle does this by reducing levels of inflammatory chemicals in the body, and by interfering with the way the body transmits pain signals.

The plant is used for treating high blood pressure, gout, PMS, rheumatism, diarrhea, scurvy, liver, prostate problems, anemia, fatigue, edema, menstrual difficulties, eczema, hay fever and allergies.

Today, many people still use nettle to treat urinary problems during the early stages of an enlarged prostate, for urinary tract infections, for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), or in compresses or creams for treating joint pain, sprains and strains, tendonitis, and insect bites.

Externally, Nettle is used as a compress to treat neuralgia and arthritis.

Use the infusion as a hair rinse to treat dandruff and to stimulate hair growth. Soak 2 handfuls of roots in 2 quarts of cold water overnight; next day bring mix to a boil and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes; strain roots; use remaining liquid as a hair rinse.

Some doctors recommend taking a freeze-dried preparation of stinging nettle well before hay fever season starts. More studies are needed to confirm nettle's antihistamine properties.

Taking Nettle

  1. Tea: Prepare a cup by pouring 2/3 cup of boiling water over 3 to 4 teaspoons of dried leaves or dried root and steeping for 3 to 5 minutes. Drink 3 to 4 cups per day. You can also make an infusion with fresh nettle leaves. Always drink additional water along with the tea.
  2. Dried leaf: 2 to 4 grams, 3 times a day
  3. Fluid extract (root,1:1): 1.5 mL, 3 to 4 times daily
  4. Fluid extract (leaf, 1:1): 2 to 5 mL 3 times daily
  5. Tincture (root, 1:5): 1 to 4 mL 3 to 4 times daily
  6. Creams: Use as directed

Culinary Uses of Nettle

The juice cooked out of the leaves can be used as a rennet to curdle milk for cheese or junket puddings. A strong decoction of the leaves is also a substitute for rennet.

Used as an ingredient in beer making and soups.

Major commercial source of chlorophyll for coloring fats, oils, soaps, and foodstuffs.

Also used in wine making, cooked as vegetable casseroles, puddings, teas and incorporated into cheeses.

Nettle as a vegetable. Harvest young tops of nettle with the newest leaves. Cover with water and stir with spoon until thoroughly washed. Drain and drop into a dry kettle. cook 5 to 10 minutes and do not overcook. When cooked, drain well and add butter to a skillet which has been rubbed with garlic. Stir-fry until well coated.

Nettle is a good salt substitute when dried.


Stinging Nettle Nettles remove curses and protect from evil. Used in purification baths cooked first.


Always wear gloves when harvesting nettle. The sting of nettle can be mitigated by rubbing the rash with leaves of yellow dock. The irritant is formic acid which is borne in hollow little hairs with swollen bases - boiling the plant eliminates the irritant. Infusions of the plant should be well strained. Mature leaves are coarse, bitter and mildly laxative.

Stinging nettle may affect the blood's ability to clot, and could interfere with blood-thinning drugs.

Best to avoid if you have high blood pressure.

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