Stinging Nettle: Health Benefits and Uses

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of the most nutritious and versatile edible weeds. Stinging nettle is rich in magnesium and iron, as well as selenium, silica and zinc, and packed with vitamins including vitamins A, C, E and K.

Stinging nettle is used in herbal medicine as a diuretic, as a blood purifier, to treat anemia, to boost metabolism and to stimulate the kidneys.

How to Use Nettles

Cook nettles and eat them as a substitute for spinach or for other leafy greens, and add them to stews, stir-fries, soups and pies. Nettle tea can be made with fresh or dried nettle leaves and enjoyed through the spring to stimulate the kidneys, to purify the blood and to help with your spring detox.

If you dry nettle leaves you can enjoy them throughout the year. Pick nettles in the spring, dry the leaves and add dried nettle to homemade tea blends. Sprinkle dried nettle on soups or salads, or add dried nettle to bread dough. Nettle is also an effective herbal hair tonic, and a homemade nettle hair rinse helps to keep the hair and the scalp healthy.

The stinging effect comes from the small hairs on the leaves. The hairs must be broken to remove the sting. Cook nettles for a few minutes before use to remove the sting or chop the leaves to break the hairs. If you dry nettles and crush the dried leaves, the stinging effect is removed. You can also add uncooked nettles to homemade smoothies because the blender breaks the small hairs.

How to Pick Nettles

Pick nettles in the spring when they are full of nutrients and the flavour is the most enjoyable. Wear gardening gloves and pick the top leaves that have the best flavour. Pick nettles only from areas where no chemical fertilizers are used, and try to pick them away from busy roads and away from human habitation. Nettles picked too close to habitation may contain too much nitrate. 

Nettle seeds can be picked in the late summer or in the fall. Dry the seeds and sprinkle them on soups, stews and salads for added nutrition. The seeds contain the same minerals and vitamins as the leaves, but in a more concentrated form.

Nettles are a healthy, nutritious addition to your diet especially in the spring. They are rich in many important vitamins and minerals, and they are used in herbal medicine to aid detoxification and to purify the blood. Nettles and other edible weeds are an easy way to improve your daily diet, and if you pick your own nettles you can enjoy free nutrition throughout the spring.

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Naturopathic Nutritional Medicine is an immensely powerful tool. It is consistent with and works well alongside modern biochemistry, which studies in detail the metabolism inside the cells. It looks at all the ways in which the nutrients interact with and support metabolic processes. Modern biochemistry makes it clear that the nutrients are all required together, not just as individual items. It addresses the balances between them and their actual availability inside the cells. It addresses the enzyme reactions that they support.

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