Stinging nettle, scientific name urtica dioica, is a plant belonging to the Urtica genus well known for its action that causes stinging and itching on the skin. The leaves, indeed, are covered by hair that, when breaks, releases a substance that causes the rash. However, it is in fact this substance that makes the nettle so healthy. Stinging nettle is indeed a valuable natural remedy, known and appreciated for centuries for both the wellbeing of the body and the beauty of skin and hair.
Stinging nettle, properties
Stinging nettle is, first of all, diuretic, purifying and anti-inflammatory. For this reason, the plant may help in case of rheumatism, gout, kidney stones, retention and soothes the symptoms of seasonal allergies by inhibiting the inflammations that may cause these problems (Riehemann et al, FEBS lett, Jan 1999 - Phytother Res, Jul 2009). Moreover, stinging nettle helps in case of type 2 diabetes since it plays a role in keeping at bay the levels of blood sugar thanks to its hypoglycemic effect (Kianbakht et al, Clin Lab, 2013). In addition to this, the tea with leaves of stinging nettle results a powerful remedy in case of benign prostatic hyperplasia, it reduces the poor bladder emptying by halving the urinary retention (Dudzinska et al, Arch Med Sci, Aug 2015 - Safarinejad et al, J Herb Pharmacother, 2005). This plant helps also counteract diarrhea, it is anti-hemorrhagic and for this reason it can be used to block bleeding, such as nose bleeding or heavy period. In addition to this, in case of irregular period the nettle helps regulate it. For what concerns the external use, the stinging nettle is an amazing remedy in case of canker sores, gingivitis, wounds, acne and eczema thanks to the antibacterial, antioxidant and healing properties (Bouassida et al, Biomed Res Int, 2017). Nettle based lotions may also help to counter hair loss since this remedy contains beta sitosterol, a substance that stimulates the microcirculation and supports the growth of new hair (Pekmezci et al, Medical Archives, Apr 2018). Finally, stinging nettle isn’t just a natural remedy for health and beauty but also a food with interesting nutritional properties. It is indeed a source of vitamins, such as A, group B, C, D, E, F, K and P, it brings also mineral salts such as zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium and, above all, iron (Kregiel et al, Molecules, Jul 2018). The nettle contains a substance, the secretin, that acts by stimulating the digestion, it supports the liver, pancreas and gallbladder. Stinging nettle shows also anticancer properties, tested, for example, against the breast cancer (Mohammadi et al, Cell Mol Biol, Feb 2016 ).
Stinging nettle, herbal teas, decoctions and mother tincture
To prepare the herbal tea of stinging nettle bring to boil a liter of water, remove from the heat and add two handfuls of fresh nettle leaves or two tablespoons of dry leaves, leave to brew for 10 minutes then filter and drink up to three cups a day. This remedy is useful to detox the body, counteract water retention but also in case of heavy periods or recurring nose bleeding. The same herbal tea may be used for external application in case of acne, eczema and rheumatic pain. Instead, if you want a drink with a high intake of vitamin C, useful to repair the tissues, to support the immune system, the cellular breathing and the iron metabolism, you can exploit the results of a scientific study that has observed that the maximum amount of vitamin C in nettle tea is found with an infusion of nettle leaves for 10 minutes at a temperature of about 60°C (Wolska et al, Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig, 2016). In case of canker sores or gum diseases it is useful instead a decoction. In a liter of water add three handfuls of leaves and bring to the boiling, let it simmer for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat, filter and, once lukewarm, use to gargle and to wash the mouth. This decoction is also helpful as a wrap in parts of skin with dermatitis, wounds or pimples but also as a lotion post shampoo against hair loss. There is also the mother tincture with a remineralizing, detox and diuretic action. In this case you should take 40 drops 3 times a day, it results a remedy in case of anemia and hyperuricemia.
Stinging nettle for cooking
Stinging nettle may be eaten, like spinach, in soups or omelets but also in risotto recipes. It has a delicate taste and, once cooked, the leaves aren’t stinging. When you harvest the nettles choose the young and tender leaves and use always the gloves!
Stinging nettle, side effects and advice
Avoid stinging nettle during pregnancy. Follow the treatment with nettle herbal tea for no more than two weeks and remember, after a cup of nettle tea, to drink always a glass of water to support the work of the kidneys.