Right? It's prickly, it's invasive, and it keeps coming back! Into the compost thank you very much. However, the persistent little thing is packed full of nutrition and is an absolutely brilliant herb. Yes, it tastes a bit like grass mixed with spinach. But honestly, it's well worth it. It's good for the eyes, skin, hair, bones, kidneys, & prostate.
Nettle has been used for ages. The Romans used it to treat arthritis and sciatica. It's been used to treat coughs, bladder problems, and 'mad dog' bites. We love the phrase "to cleanse the skin of leprosy, morphew, and discolourings." (Culpepper, 1816.)
But why should you have it? There's no mad dogs and just what is morphew? Well, Nettle is, as we said previously, a nutritional bullet. The aerial parts contain vitamins A, B2, C, E, K, and carotenoids. Minerals include calcium, magnesium, potassium, silica, selenium, zinc, manganese, and iron. That's a lot of good stuff in one plant. And, if it's in your garden, it's free!
Nettle can clear skin by helping the lymphatic system remove toxins. It is known to help with acne, eczema, or rashes. It helps with haemorrhoids, gout, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or BPH. Because it is mildly diuretic, meaning it increases urinary output, toxins are cleared. Yes, one pees a bit more but it's worth it!
Ladies, Nettle is safe to use during pregnancy and lactation. It can help increase milk flow.
Men, Nettle can help prevent prostate enlargement. From the age of thirty we recommend men should have at least two cups per day as a preventative measure. Research is primarily on the root, but the leaf has its benefits. Some technical reasons why it's helpful: Urtica dioica root--that's Nettle--contains beta-sitosterol, scopoletin, and lignans (fancy chemical names) which inhibit SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) from binding to prostate receptor sites that cause prostate enlargement. In other words, it helps decrease the chances of an enlarged prostate. If you do have BPH (benign prostatic enlargement) we would recommend a few other herbs in combination with nettle herb, including nettle root.
When harvesting use gloves as it does sting. If 'bitten' break the stem and put the white 'milk' on the bite. It helps to neutralise it. Let it wilt for 24 hours then use in infusions or soups. It can can be dried on racks (how barbaric!) or hung it (gads, violence!) or use a dehydrator. It is completely dry when the leaves are crunchy and the stems snap. Store in a paper bag, hat box, or cardboard box in a cool place, out of the sun. Use as required. Separate roots from aerial parts (herb.)
Why bother? It's yucky. It isn't really, but Herb Nerds have exceptional bias. If just starting out, try small amounts. As a tea, nettle combines well with lemon or ginger and a touch of honey is nice. Make a large batch and keep it in the fridge. Drink through the day or have a cup in the morning. Green milk. lol. Try adding a tablespoon of the herb to a pot of soup or a casserole. Throw a tablespoon of the root into the rice as it cooks. Not sure, call or email. Always happy to help. Hmmm, how to make green milk or a nettle brew to have on hand. Take a handful of dried herb. Aerial parts. Root can be added, too. Place in pan. Add three cups of boiling water. Simmer for up to 15 minutes. Strain. Keep in fridge to have a cup each morning. If using ginger, put it in at the beginning of the boil. If using lemon, put it in closer to the end. Drink one-two cups per day. After one month, notice the difference in your skin & hair. When harvesting, know the land. Has it been sprayed with weed killers? Is it beside a busy road? Are there sheep on or near it? If there are brown patches around fence posts, guaranteed it's been sprayed. Avoid these areas. Alternatively, come into the shop and get some nettle herb and/or root. The work is all done.
Peace & Love.