Nettles have always been one of my favorite plants to use and learn about. Once you accept their strong personality and learn how to be around them without getting stung, they will also be one of your favorites!
One of the first ways we used nettle was as a base for pesto! We combined it with basil to make a wonderful green and very nutritious paste. We made a bunch, froze it in ice cubes trays and used as needed. The kids loved it!
While my daughter and I harvested nettles, we chatted about her plans for her new projects, school life, and the best harvesting technique to avoid getting stung.
Parts Used: Stalks and leaves, rhizomes, seeds
Harvesting Guidelines: Harvest top six inches of plants in spring and early summer before flowering. Harvest seeds in fall once the bundles of tiny flowers look fluffy and are drooping down toward the stem. Harvest rhizomes when ground is diggable in spring or after first frost in autumn. (https://herbarium.theherbalacademy.com)
While harvesting stinging nettle, you have to be mindful and intentional. If you are not paying attention and rub up gently on the plant, that is when you get stung! I love harvesting nettle for this reason. It keeps me in the present moment.
Safety: Nettle is considered nutritive and safe, although some allergic reactions have been reported. Nettle stings may cause discomfort, of course. Internal use may decrease the efficacy of anticoagulant drugs (Hoffmann, 2003).
The stinging sensation is caused by the formic acid and histamine contained in tiny hairs that cover the stems and leaves. When they touch skin, the sharp hairs penetrate the skin, break off, and release their chemicals (Foster, 1993).
If the plant is dried, cooked, or left to wilt for a day or two, the sting disappears. Unfortunately, if one is stung, the discomfort often lingers for several hours or more. Plantain, jewelweed, rosemary, and sage are purported to ease the pain of a nettle sting, as can (ironically) nettle leaf juice or nettle infusion.
*Wildcrafted from our land
Melissa's favorite things about Nettle
Nettles are extremely nutritious. Cup for cup, strong nettle tea has more calcium than milk and contains easily absorbed magnesium, silica, potassium, protein, iron, zinc, chlorophyll, vitamin K, vitamin A, and B vitamins. Per ounce, nettle supplies approximately 100% of your recommended daily intake of calcium and 60% of the magnesium you need.
The best way to extract the goodness from nettle is to make a super infusion with the dry plant material (see below) or eat the leaves fresh. A regular cup of nettle tea has approximately 40-80 mg of calcium and a super infusion contains approximately 500 mg of calcium a cup!
"Because of its rich mineral content, nettle is a favorite for strengthening bones, hair, nails, and teeth. It’s high in nutrients needed for a strong integumentary (skin) system, such as calcium and magnesium." (herbmentor.com)
Drinking nettle tea is a great way to take care of your skin from the inside out. That is why Herbal Beauty often recommends it for skin health and why we include it in many of our formulations.
The large amount of vitamins and minerals in nettles support healthy energy levels and makes a great afternoon pick me up.
Nettle is known as a nourishing herbal tonic, and can be drunk or eaten daily. Nettles nourishes, supports and energizes the whole body, and is richly nourishing to the blood. Good-bye daily multivitamin and hello daily nettle infusion!
Nettle Super Infusion
1 oz dry nettle
32 oz boiling water
Steep for 4-8 hours, strain and enjoy!
Every time I drink a Nettle Super Infusion, I can feel my body become instantly nourished and replenished.
-Nettle is commonly used to decrease seasonal allergic responses, such as hay fever. The astringent action of nettle also contributes to the action of reducing a runny nose and the histamine content reduces the inflammatory response.
-Used externally, Nettle is a great choice for dandruff, acne, and itchy inflamed skin conditions. It is included in many hair care formulations to improve scalp circulation and to stimulate hair growth. Nettle extracts in hair care can improve the health, quality, and appearance of hair. They will also bring out lowlights and darken hair slowly. Nettle infused oil are also great for dry and itchy skin.
-Nettle is known as a rubefacient aka counterirritant. The tiny hairs of fresh nettle release formic acid when brushed against the skin, causing an uncomfortable rash, which can be used therapeutically. The use of fresh nettles topically is known as urtication. This type of application increases blood flow and circulation to the area affected. Through increasing the blood flow to a local area, you bring fresh oxygenated blood loaded with nutrients, which not only benefits the tissues nutritionally, but also enables stagnated waste products and such to be purged from the tissues to ultimately be eliminated. The rubefacient action is typically used for stiff, tight, swollen, and achey arthritic joints, sore muscles, and areas of the body that have a relative low grade annoying level of pain. The initial pain from the nettle sting is uncomfortable but once it wears off, the sore part of the body feels better.
How we use Nettles
-Added to stir fry and baked vegetables
-Daily Nettle Super Infusions
-Added to soup broths
-Powdered and added to a salt mixture
-Adds a touch of green to any meat or vegetable dish!
Herbal Beauty Products
Shampoo and Conditioner: provides nourishing benefits
Beard Oil: Nettle infused sunflower oil relieves itchy skin
All Herbal Infusion Tea Blends
I believe everyone can benefit from Nettles! That is why I use them in all of my tea blends.
Sea Salt Hair Spray
For more Nettle fun, check out this post from 2012
Harvest Journal entries are a way to introduce you to the plants that grow in our eco-system and that we use in our products. I hope that you are encouraged to do your own research and get out and harvest your favorite plants.
For educational purposes only. The information has not been approved by the FDA and does not intend to diagnose or prescribe. Always consult with your health practitioner before taking any remedy.
For more information on harvesting guidelines and plant identification, please do your own research.
The Herbal Bath and Body Book by Heather Lee Houdak
101 Easy Homemade Products for your Skin, Health, and Home by Jan Berry
Grow your own Herbal Remedies by Maria Noel Groves
School of Evolutionary Herbalism: Materia Medica