Nettles

 

I spent a pleasant half an hour yesterday afternoon in my back yard cutting organic Stinging Nettle leaves into a bucket.  I was careful (this time) not to touch any part of the plant to avoid the stinging.  Nettles grow wild around here.  I used to pull them out, roots and all, and chuck them in my fire pit.  Now I’m just careful not to touch them.  I harvested a half a 5 gallon bucket of fresh nettle leaves with my vinyl kitchen gloves on – enough to fill six dehydrator trays.  This first batch is promised to my niece Brodie.

I remember once when my boys were small and they were playing a game of hide-and-seek in the back yard.  One of them (Taylor or Darin) hid in the nice big green plants and came yelping out, jumping up and down as they were stinging from head to toe:  he had hid in a patch of stinging nettle.

 

Stinging Nettles growing by the river

Stinging Nettles growing by the river

Urtica dioica, often called common nettle or stinging nettle, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant, native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America, and is the best-known member of the nettle genus Urtica.  Nettles are an amazing herb.    They’ve been used medicinally for hundreds of years to treat joint/muscle pain, eczema, arthritis, gout, anemia, urinary tract infections, hay fever, joint pain, tendonitis, insect bites, sprains, and strains.

It’s no wonder that stinging nettle is a wonder herb:  per 100 grams (1 cup = 89 grams) contains Total Fat 0.1 g; Sodium 4 mg; Potassium 334 mg; Total Carbohydrate 7 g; Dietary fiber 7 g; Sugar 0.2 g; Protein 2.7 g; Vitamin A 40%; Calcium 48%; Iron 8%; Vitamin B-6 5%; and Magnesium 14% (% based on a 2,000 calorie diet)!   It can be taken as a tea, tincture, or included in a skin cream.

As with all herbs, nettle should be respected when it comes to possible interaction with other herbs, medications, or medical conditions.  It’s always a good idea to speak with your health care professional.

  • Nettle can raise or lower blood sugar so diabetics need to monitor their blood sugar closely to determine the effect of nettle on their own body.
  • Stinging nettle can have a diuretic effect, raising the risk of dehydration, and it can increase the effects of Diuretic drugs
  • Stinging nettle may affect the blood’s ability to clot, and could interfere with blood thinning drugs.
  • Stinging nettle may lower blood pressure, so it could make the effects of drugs for high blood pressure stronger
  • Because stinging nettle can act as a diuretic, it can increase the effects of these drugs,
  • Stewed stinging nettle leaves enhance the anti-inflammatory effect of NSAIDs, reducing pain in acute arthritis.
  • Pregnant women should not use nettle.

 

Drying Nettles

Drying Nettles

This morning, the nettles were crisp and dry in the dehydrator overnight.  I crunched them up in a Ziploc bag then put them in a Mason jar to store.  I’ll get outside later and cut off some more stinging nettle leaves to dry.

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. fred schueler
    Jun 22, 2014 @ 15:43:57

    They do get discouraged if you harvest them too heavily, though. On Jennie’s birthday, in 1993 or so, we went to the Winchester “Bog” on Development Road, and foraged up vast amounts of Nettles. I haven’t been back to see what, or if, has replaced them there.

    Reply

  2. Kristi
    Jun 23, 2014 @ 20:37:34

    You are awesome! I LOVE always learning new things from you! I LOVE your ability to live with mother nature so well….and share what you learn

    Reply

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