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Stinging Nettle as an Herb

Stinging Nettle as an Herb

Urtica dioica

The Nettle tribe, Urticaceae, is widely spread over the world and contains about 500 species, mainly tropical, though several, like our common Stinging Nettle, occur widely in temperate climates.

The British species of Stinging Nettle, belonging to the genus Urtica (the name derived from the Latin, uro, to burn), are well known for the burning properties of the fluid contained in the stinging hairs with which the leaves are so well armed.

Stinging nettle is a perennial member of the nettle family, native to both Europe and the United States. The root and leaf are used.

Stinging Nettle as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

The medicinal parts are the fresh and dried flowering plant and the roots.

In folk medicine, the dried herb and fresh plant juice have been used as diuretics, astringents and blood builders, and to treat anemia (due to their high iron content). Also used for edema, rheumatism, gout and prostatits. Externally, the herb is used as a hair and scalp remedy against oily hair and dandruff.

The powdered leaves or fresh leaf juice have been applied to cuts to stop bleeding or taken in tea to reduce excessive menstrual flow, as well as to treat nosebleeds and hemorrhoids.

Nettle tea has been used to stimulate blood circulation and as a spring tonic for chronic skin ailments. France's official bulletin on herbal medicines notes that it is traditionally used for the treatment of mild acne and eczema. It is also a folk treatment for arthritis. The tea has also been used as a rinse for dandruff.

A freeze-dried nettle leaf product has been used in the treatment of allergies and taken in capsule form.

Several studies indicate that the leaf extract depresses the central nervous system and inhibits bacteria and adrenaline.

Stinging nettle's diuretic activity has been the subject of a number of German studies. The juice has a distinctly diuretic effect in patients with heart disorders or chronic venous insufficiency. The herb's high potassium content and flavonoids may contribute to its diuretic action. In Germany, the herb is used for supportive treatment of rheumatic complaints and kidney infections.

Preparations

Stinging Nettle Flowering Plant: To prepare an infusion, use 1.5 g finely cut herb in cold water, briefly bring to a boil and steep for 10 minutes, then strain.

Stinging Nettle Root: To prepare an infusion use 1.5 g coarse powdered drug in cold water, heat to boiling point for 1 minute, then steep, covered, for 10 minutes, and strain. 1 teaspoonful equals 1.3 g herb. Daily Dose: 4 to 6 g herb.

Tea: 1.5 g coarse powdered drug to water

Culinary Uses of Stinging Nettle

An Indian species, U. tuberosa, has edible tubers, which are eaten either raw, boiled or roasted, and considered nutritious.

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 a vegetablecasseroles, puddings, teas and incorporated into cheeses.

As a vegetable: harvest young tops with newest leaves; cover with water and stir with spoon until thoroughly washed; drain and drop into dry kettle; cook 5 to 10 minutes and do not overcook; drain well; add butter to skillet which has been rubbed with garlic; stir-fry till well coated.

Good salt substitute when dried.

Caution

Fresh nettle leaves sting! The burning sensation usually lasts for about an hour, but may persist for up to twelve hours in some individuals.

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