Late spring is a time of green leaves, blooming lilacs, and kitchen-gardens. Its also time for one of my favourite tasks: harvesting stinging nettles (Urtica dioica). Yes, stinging nettles.
Some of us may remember our grandparents reminiscing about those tall, dark green nettles whose ability to sting made these plants the subject of often rueful memories.
Stinging nettles are also famous in herbal medicine.
The ancient Romans used to beat arthritic areas with freshly picked nettle plants since the nettle sting, produced by the fine hairs covering the stems and leaves, is similar to that of a bee sting and raises small white welts via a histamine response. This causes local vasodilation (and hence blood to arthritic areas), with subsequent improvement of symptoms.
Modern science has shown the medicinal efficacy of stinging nettles in many areas. The aerial parts (the leaves and stems) offer diuretic properties, and contain high levels of iron, potassium, Vitamin C, calcium, and other minerals. As a result, stinging nettles are often used as a gentle detoxification agent, promoting urine flow to flush toxins out of the body, while replenishing the bodys minerals.
The benefits of drinking nettle tea
Drinking nettle tea on a daily basis can help encourage steady, mild elimination of toxins and discourage toxin build-up. For this reason, stinging nettles can be useful in helping with eczema and other skin problems.
Stinging nettles can also be used as an adjunct in natural allergy treatments, especially in the treatment of hay fever and asthma.
Not only do nettles have detoxification, re-mineralization, and anti-allergy properties, but they also have gender-specific medicinal properties as well.
Increasing iron intake for women
Women may find that stinging nettles high levels of iron help replace Iron lost during menstruation and reverse anemia. Additionally, nettles astringent action can help regulate heavy menstrual bleeding. Nettle leaf tea also helps promote the flow of breast milk in nursing mothers.
Benefitting the male prostate
In males, stinging nettle roots are often used in combination with other herbs to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate). The diuretic properties of nettle roots help encourage urine flow and reduce abnormal prostate size.
Stinging nettles are most often consumed as a tea of the aerial parts.
Usually, the dosage is up to 3 cups of nettle tea per day. For prostatic hypertrophy, nettle root can be consumed as a decoction, in a dose of about 1 cup per day. The tea has a mild taste, and preparing it can be incorporated into your daily regimen as a calming task. Relax and enjoy the health benefits that stinging nettles have to offer you!