Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Identify:
• deep green leaves with serrated edges and tiny greenish flowers.
• Stems are square.
• Plants grow 3-7 feet tall.
• The stalk and underside of leaves are covered with stinging hairs that rise from a gland containing formic acid.
• Nettle is common in streambeds, forests and disturbed areas with rich wet soil.
• Do not gather nettles in agricultural or industrial areas because they may absorb inorganic nitrites and heavy metals.

When to collect:
• They are most potent when gathered in early spring before flowering, usually from March-May.
• Will often toughen and/or become bitter after its flower clusters appear.
• As the plants mature, you’ll find that the pale green top leaves will have better flavor and texture than will the large, dark foliage lower on the stalk.
• Furthermore, many nettle patches will put out new tender shoots in the late fall, often maintaining them until well after the first frost.
• Pick/cut the top 4-6 inches of the plant (this will be the tender part), and it will regrow and then you can harvest again.

What to eat:
• The whole above ground part can be eaten, stems and all.
• Do not harvest nettle for food after they flower as old leaves contain cystoliths that may irritate the kidneys. This compound is destroyed when the plant is dried, so gathering nettles after flowering is fine to prepare dried herb tea or powder.

Medicinal:
• traditionally used as a spring tonic. I
• t is a slow-acting nutritive herb that gently cleanses the body of metabolic wastes.
• It is one of the safest alteratives, especially in the treatment of chronic disorders that require long-term treatment.
• It has a gentle, stimulating effect on the lymphatic system, enhancing the excretion of wastes through the kidneys.
• Nettle’s iron content makes it a wonderful blood builder, and the presence of vitamin C aids in the iron absorption. As a hemetic (an herb rich in iron), this is an excellent herb for anemia and fatigue, especially in women. It “promotes the process of protein transanimation in the liver, effectively utilizing digested proteins, while simultaneously preventing them from being discharged through the body as waste products
• vitamin K, which guards against excessive bleeding. It is also a good supplement to strengthen the fetus. It is used during labor to ease the pains, and will increase milk production in lactating women. Stinging nettle is often recommended for pre-menstrual syndrome because of its toxin-ridding activity. When the liver is sluggish, it processes estrogen slowly, contributing to the high levels that cause or aggravate PMS. It acts as a restorative remedy during menopause, and the astringency of the herb helps in excessive menstrual flow.
• As a diuretic, stinging nettle increases the secretion and flow of urine. This makes it invaluable in cases of fluid retention and bladder infections. It is also anti-lithic and nephridic, breaking down stones in the kidneys and gravel in the bladder.
• Boron is a trace mineral essential for healthy bones. James A. Duke states in his book The Green Pharmacy, “The recommended beneficial dose of boron is 2-3 milligrams daily. An analysis of stinging nettle provided to me [James Duke] by the USDA scientists shows that it contains 47 parts per million of the mineral boron, figured on a dry-weight basis. That means that a 100-gram serving of stinging nettle, prepared by steaming several ounces of young, tender leaves, could easily contain more than the 2-3 milligram recommendations. According to the Rheumatoid Disease Foundation, boron is effective because it plays a role in helping bones retain calcium. It also has a beneficial influence on the body’s endocrine (hormonal) system, and hormones play a role in helping the body maintain healthy bones and joints.”
• Stinging nettle acts similarly to dandelion leaf, promoting the elimination of uric acid from joints with an alkalizing diuretic activity. In an open multi-clinical trial of 219 patients with arthritis, nettle leaf was compared with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) therapy, demonstrating a similar reduction in pain and immobility, with excellent tolerability. In an article by Rob McCaleb in 1998 it states, “In an open randomized study, singing nettle given in combination with a sub-therapeutic dose of an anti-inflammatory drug was as effective as a full dose of the drug alone for arthritis pain relief. Forty patients experiencing acute arthritis took part in the study, with half taking the full 200 mg standard dose of the prescription drug diclofenac. The other subjects took 50 mg of diclofenac along with 50 g of stewed nettle leaf. All subjects ate the same foods during the study and only those with uncomplicated medical histories were included, based on very specific criteria. Researchers used both objective and subjective tests to measure effectiveness. The results were impressive: a combination of 50 g nettle leaf with one-quarter of the normal dose of diclofenac was just as effective in relieving pain as the full dose of the drug alone. The authors noted ‘50 mg diclofenac is unlikely to produce such a profound effect.’ Previous research has shown that doses of 75 mg diclofenac are inadequate for arthritis pain relief.”
• Nettle leaf is useful to correct symptoms of gastrointestinal excess, such as gas, nausea, and mucus colitis.
• Numerous studies conducted mostly in Germany have shown the root to have a beneficial effect on enlarged prostate glands.
• The fresh leaves were found to show anti-tumoural activity in animal studies and strong anti-mutagenic activity. Nettle leaves are high in antioxidants with vitamin activities and have high potassium to sodium ratio. All this indicates it as an excellent natural source for protection against neoplastic diseases (tumors), cardiovascular disorders, and immune deficiency.
• In the respiratory system nettles help clear catarrhal congestion. The seeds are an excellent lung astringent, particularly useful for bronchitis, tuberculosis, and consumption.
• Nettle is anti-asthmatic: the juice of the roots or leaves, mixed with honey or sugar, will relieve bronchial and asthmatic troubles and the dried leaves, burnt and inhaled,
• The juice of the Nettle, or a decoction formed by boiling the green herb in a strong solution of salt, will curdle milk, providing the cheese-maker with a good substitute for rennet. The same juice, if rubbed liberally into small seams in leaky wooden tubs coagulates and will render them once more watertight.
• A decoction of Nettle yields a beautiful and permanent green dye, which is used for woollen stuffs in Russia: the roots, boiled with alum, produce a yellow colour, which was formerly widely used in country districts to dye yarn, and is also employed by the Russian peasants to stain eggs yellow on Maundy Thursday.
• Both in the Pacific Northwest and in Europe, people have stung themselves to cure arthritic joints and to stay awake and alert during battle or hunting. Traditional knowledge is now validated by scientific research.

Nutrition:
• Compounds including histamine, acetylcholine and formic acid are injected into tissue causing an awakening of cellular responses, lymph flow and nerve and capillary stimulation.
• extremely high iron and chlorophyll content. It is also very high in the minerals calcium, magnesium, silicon, sulphur, copper, chromium, zinc, cobalt, potassium and phosphorus. Nettles also contain high amounts of vitamins A, C, D, E, and K as well as riboflavin and thiamine

http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/04/harvesting-wild-nettles.html
http://wildfoodsandmedicines.com/nettle-restorative-food-purifying-medicine-guardian/
http://www.herballegacy.com/Vance_Medicinal.html
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/n/nettle03.html

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