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“When In Doubt, Try Nettles!”

This quip was pronounced by David Hoffman, herbal guru of immense proportion, at the International Herbal Symposium some years ago. While his audience laughed at the statement, they also nodded their heads. 

Few herbs rival nettle’s outstanding nutrition and safety. As a budding herbalist some decades ago, this was one of the first natural medicines in my cupboard. I drank copious amounts of the tea and enjoyed it as a spring vegetable as well.

With so many herbs in the news headlines and fancy sliver-bullet chemicals isolated from them, one might easily forget humble nettles. Well, humble with a nip, of course! We must remember her sting! 

The leaves of this plant are loaded with minerals, including iron, making it a perfect adrenal and blood tonic. Touted by some as a “super-food,” this plant makes an effective spring tonic. 

This herb nourishes anyone who is worn out, anemic, over-stressed, or inflamed. As such, it is as appropriate for a young woman with heavy menstrual periods as it is for a post-menopausal woman with hot flashes. 

As Paul Bergner says, “Nettles are the mother’s milk of mineral nutrition.”

For the pregnant mom, it wards off anemia and strengthens the tone of her womb. Since this “medicine” is truly a food, young nettle leaves are as safe as spinach.

The most popular and well-known benefit of nettles lies in the season it appears: hay fever. Herbal preparations of the leaves are revered by allergy sufferers, who turn to this simple remedy when all else fails. For best effect, drink copious amounts of the tea, and supplement with quercetin capsules. Relief will be swift and sure in all but the toughest allergic constitutions. 

Be forewarned, the fresh plants are loaded with spiny hairs armed with a venom that stings the skin. Although the sting will make you jump, for most people, the rash is short-lived, albeit itchy and disconcerting (a fresh burdock leaf applied shortly after contact can ease the itch). 

Historically, the nettle rash is reputed to have healing powers for arthritic joints and achy muscles. Some harvesters use bare hands for this very reason, although I’m not sure I have the nerve to try it. Once the plant is dried, steamed, mashed, or wilted, its sting disappears, leaving a delicious edible plant.

Since there are so many benefits and uses to this marvelous plant, please help me out by sharing your own nettle wisdom here.  Let’s learn from each other!

3 thoughts on ““When In Doubt, Try Nettles!””

  1. I quite enjoy Nettles as a food and as a tea. Also I enjoy Nettles mixed with burdock root as a tea. The restorative Properties or something that’s so valuable to me in this time of hurry hurry. I am fortunate to have a patch of wild Burdock on my property and am looking forward to establishing an area for stinging nettle as well this year.

  2. The First Peoples used to flog themselves with nettles when they had to canoe all night, to keep awake. I have picked it bare handed, but have never flogged myself with it. I try singing if I get sleepy and must stay awake instead.

  3. Hi! I found this site while looking for nettle rash remedies. I went for a long walk in the countryside the day before yesterday – wearing shorts. Some of the paths were pretty overgrown, and though I tried really hard to avoid the nettles it was impossible in some places :-/ Now I have nasty itchy hives all over my legs, ouch!
    No rash remedies here, but I was interested to note that nettle can be used to alleviate hayfever! I can’t function without hayfever medication from around early April right through to October – one tablet per day usually does the job, but in the last couple of days they’ve been struggling to keep my sneezes and itchy legs at bay. Maybe I’ll try supplementing my tablets with some tea made from the dastardly plant that got me in this state in first place, haha!

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