What is Stinging Nettle? Why You Should Harvest this Superfood.
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Thanks for stopping by to read the post on Stinging Nettle. In this blogpost, we cover How to identify and harvest Stinging Nettle and its medicinal benefits. Stinging Nettle has some great health benefits and is commonly used as a tea, in soups, stews and stir-frys.
Click below to check out our Freebie for An Amazing Stinging Nettle Recipe– a must-try recipe that is flavorsome and full of health benefits.
Nettle is a common name for plants in the Urticaceae family, including several species of stinging nettles. The most common species of stinging nettle is Urtica dioica, or common stinging nettle.
This plant is native to Europe, Asia and North America. It grows everywhere and is easily identified by its distinctive stinging hairs.
Stinging nettles have been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. In fact, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, wrote about the use of stinging nettles to treat arthritis in 400 B.C. Nettles are rich in nutrients and vitamins that can help prevent disease and promote good health if eaten regularly as part of a balanced diet. Like Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."
So, let's dig in (but don't pull out any stinging nettle roots)
What is stinging nettle?
Stinging nettle, also known as urtica dioica or uña de gato, is a common species of flowering plant in the family Urticaceae. It grows to 1 m tall and has leaves which are densely green and often have a stinging pain. The species is native to Europe and Asia, but has been introduced elsewhere in temperate regions of the world.
What is Stinging Nettle rich in?
The leaves of the stinging nettle contain many nutrients that are beneficial for your health. These include: Vitamins: Vitamin C and B vitamins such as folate and vitamin K. Minerals: Calcium, iron, sodium, manganese, potassium and zinc.
Why is the nettle so painful?
Stinging nettles can cause a burning sensation when they come into contact with skin or mucous membranes. The hairs contain formic acid and histamine, which cause pain and inflammation. The name also comes from it, "stinging" because it hurts like hell when you brush against one; "nettle" because it makes you feel like you got stung by a bee! Now that we have introduced nettles, let's find and harvest them together…
Where to find Stinging Nettle?
Look for stinging nettle plants in moist areas, such as riverbanks, forests and meadows. Stinging nettles grow best in full sun but are tolerant of partial shade. Stinging nettles have many common characteristics that make it easy to spot them when you're out in your yard or walking through the woods:
Stinging nettle plants grow fairly tall, reaching up to six feet or more in height. They have small yellowish-green flowers that bloom throughout the summer months. The flowers eventually turn into small seed pods that ripen into seeds in the fall or winter.
Stinging nettle leaves are serrated and heart-shaped, with a distinct point at the end. The leaves usually grow to be about 2-6 inches long, but they can reach up to 12 inches long in some cases. A word of Caution – (As we mentioned above) One thing that you need to keep in mind while harvesting them is to be cautious as the leaves and stem have fine hairs which deliver a histamine jab.
How to Harvest Stinging Nettles (How do you get rid of nettle stings)
You can harvest it in early spring or late summer, when the plant is at its peak, by following these simple steps –
Step 1: Gather your supplies to get rid of nettle stings. You will need gloves, which protect you from the nettle's stinging hairs, and a hat. A long-sleeved shirt also helps protect your arms, but if you're harvesting by hand, you'll want to wear long pants anyway because of the sharp thorns on some varieties of stinging nettle. Step 2: Cut off all the leaves and stems from each plant. Make sure to remove any dead or browned leaves or stems as well as any flowers that have already bloomed or seed pods that have already matured. Also, check the undersides of the leaves to make sure there is no white spittle present. If there is spittle present, this means that the plant has already been damaged by insects and its nutrients will not be as high as those in an untouched plant. Step 3: Rinse off any dirt on them under cold water before putting them in your jar or container — this will help prevent mold growth later! Step 4: Put your harvested plants into a paper bag or other container with air holes punched in it so that they stay fresh until you're ready to use them in your recipes or teas. Step 5: Wash your hands thoroughly before you touch anything else (including other parts of your body). This will remove any trace amounts of stinging hairs from your hands, so they don't irritate other parts of your body later during the day. And voila, you have gotten rid of all the possible stings!
A few tips that will come in handy while harvesting –
When you cut off a leaf, leave at least one more behind so that the plant will continue growing.
Use only fresh plants for cooking because older ones may have lost their potency or become bitter tasting over time.
To avoid the reaction of the Nettle – pinch off the leaves and stems with tweezers before cooking them or making tea out of them.
Alright, you might be thinking, if harvesting them requires so much effort, why should you harvest them in the first place? Because they not only contain many vitamins and minerals, they have some awesome health benefits too.
What are the benefits of stinging nettle?
Relieves Joint Pains
Helps to treat allergies like Hay Fever
Treats Enlarged Prostate symptoms
Lowers Blood Pressure
Helps with Urinary Tract Infections
Although, as listed above, there are many benefits to adding Stinging Nettle to your diet, let's discuss two in detail –
Stinging Nettles can help relieve joint pains
The stings are inflammatory, but the plant is the opposite! Stinging nettle contains compounds called stinging triterpene glycosides (or lectins) that have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling, pain and redness associated with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or osteoarthritis (OA). A study found that nettle extracts may have properties that can assist in curing Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis(1).
Stinging Nettles help to treat allergies
Nettle is a natural antihistamine, which means that it reduces the effects of allergy symptoms such as itching, swelling and redness. It's also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the severity of symptoms like asthma attacks or chronic urticaria (hives). In a study, it was found that freeze-dried nettle can be helpful for immediate relief of seasonal allergies (2). In another test-tube study, it was found that stinging nettles can reduce the inflammation that can trigger allergies like seasonal rhinitis (hay fever)(3) . With numerous benefits and uses, Stinging Nettle is one herb to try. No wonder some people call it a Superfood. So, gear up and harvest nettles using our steps and tips.
And don't forget there is a free gift for you to download where we show you how to prepare harvested Stinging Nettle into an Amazing Recipe that your kids will also love.
Click below to download our Stinging Nettle recipe.
Sources of Information –
Disclaimer: Dirt Magicians and its materials are not intended for medical advice, treatment, cure or diagnosis. All material on the DirtMagicians website is provided for educational purposes only. We advise you to always talk to your physician or your healthcare advisor for any consultation and usage of any products listed or mentioned on the site. In case of any questions regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet or any health-related programs, please consult a health practitioner.