Stinging Nettle: The Healthiest Sting Around

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Chances are high that you have this weed in your backyard, and maybe have even sprayed or pulled it out. But, you may not know that it is edible and contains a host of health benefits. It’s true that it may come with a sting when touched before cooked, but you can plant and harvest, as well as eat this herb. Nettle, or stinging nettle, happens to be used by ancient Rome and China as a powerful health tonic for everything from burns to intestinal issues. It also contains loads of vitamins and minerals your body desperately needs.

 

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Under the scientific name urtica dioica, nettle’s first recorded use was by Roman soldiers who used it to warm their cold appendages. Numerous studies have been done since proving the health benefits of this useful plant, and there’s no question that this weed has medicinal uses.

Stinging Nettle Health Benefits

Study after study shows that nettle should not only be in your backyard, it should be on your kitchen table too because of its ability to boost overall health.

    • Lessen arthritis symptoms. Both topically and internally, nettle can lessen the pain of arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
    • Blood circulation. Nettle packs a punch in heart-healthy vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, an essential heart mineral. Potassium also helps ease the burden on arteries and blood vessels.
    • Promotes detoxification. Nettle helps the body flush out toxins since its naturally a diuretic. It’s a great idea to wildcraft fresh nettle during the spring, and juice or dry it for tea for a change of the seasons detox.
    • Assists with allergies. Outside of nettle’s outer sting, it can help bind to histamine receptors in the body and limit the body’s immune allergic response to allergic triggers.
    • Lowers overall inflammation. Inflammation is swelling in the body, and can be very painful. It is the red flag that something in the body is not right. Studies show that nettle can help lower inflammation without harming healthy cells.
    • Nettle is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, C, K and iron, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper and boron. It is especially high in potassium, which is a mineral that’s hard to get the recommended daily amount of through food. A daily nettle infusion (see below) can help you get essential vitamins and minerals without splurging on pricey vitamins. It also contains the beneficial chlorophyll, lutein, and carotenoids.

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Photo credit: bigstockphoto.com

How to Identify Nettle

Nettle’s green leaves are distinguishable by their thin hairs that “sting,” or cause inflammation and itchiness when touched, serrated edges, and oval shape.

Nettle is very easy to grow in your own backyard. If you’re looking for a cheap daily vitamin and mineral you can grow yourself, try nettle. Be sure to use gardening gloves when gardening and picking nettle, though. However, the stings are removed when cooked.

How to Use Stinging Nettle

      • Nettle can be found in packaged teas in most health food stores. A great way to get all the health benefits of nettle is to purchase nettle tea bags or loose nettle leaf and create an infusion. Infuse boiling water with 3 tea bags (or 3 teaspoons) of nettle into a heat-safe glass mason jar. Cover, and allow to sit at room temperature for four to six hours. Drink promptly, or keep in the refrigerator up to two days. Nettle tea is a great way to boost the milk supply of nursing mothers.
      • Nettle is available in capsule form at most health food stores.
      • Nettle is also, of course, found in most gardens, backyards, and open areas in most temperate areas of the world.
      • Nettle can also be consumed cooked. Most feel that nettle tastes like spinach, so sautéing is a great idea. Try out this recipe to enjoy the health benefits of fresh nettle as a pesto:

Spinach Nettle Pesto
Ingredients

-½ cup extra virgin olive oil

– ½ cup parmesan cheese

– 1 cup lightly steamed or sauteed nettle

– 1 cup fresh spinach

– 2 garlic cloves

– ¼ cup pine nuts

– Pinch of salt

Instructions

Add nettle, spinach, and oil to a blender or food processor, and blend for 30 seconds. Add the other ingredients, and continue to blend until smooth, about one to two minutes.

 

KEEP READING: 30 Healthy Benefits of Using Nettle

 

Nettle is an herb that deserves a place in your medicine cabinet, and table. However, pregnant women should not consume nettle and those on prescriptions should ask their doctor before supplementing or consuming nettle. Research does note that nettle can increase milk supply for nursing mothers. Just be sure to steer clear of the sting!

References:

www.lifehack.org

www.healwithfood.org