- Urtica dioica
- Nettle family
Common stinging nettle
Great stinging nettle
Parts Usually Used
A member of the Urticaceae family (Urtica is from the Latin urere - 'to burn') with about 500 species worldwide, some in the Far East can produce a sting which burns for days. It is a perennial reaching about 1.2 metres in height. The dark green leaves oppose each other on the stem, they are 5 to 15 cm long and 2 to 5 cm wide, serrated and with a tapered end. Tiny stiff hairs on the leaves are hollow enabling them to inject a cocktail including formic acid and histamine which causes a painful rash. This stinging does not occur when they are dried or cooked.
The flowers appear in the summer, they are tiny, greenish or greenish-white hanging down in clusters just above where the leaves attach to the stem.
Astringent, hemostatic, diuretic, galactagogue (promotes flow of milk), lowers blood sugar levels, expectorant, tonic, nutritive, styptic, rubefacient.
Formic acid, silicon, potassium, tannins, glucoquinones, histamine, acerylocholine, serotonin, chlorophyll, carbonic acid, mucilage, magnesium, iron, many minerals and vitamins A, B, and C.
Widely used to treat rheumatism and poor circulation, but also cures bronchitis, prevents scurvy, reduces the risk of hemorrhage, neuralgia, scrofula, sore throat, sore mouth, sciatica, vaginal yeast infections, anemia, increases milk flow for nursing mothers, lowers blood sugar, joint aches, neuralgia, gout, first stages of dropsy, bee stings, whooping cough, expel worms, and dispels melancholia.
The leaves may be boiled and then eaten like any green vegetable, or else used for an infusion. A decoction may also be made from the root, this is good for dissolving renal (kidney) stones and other internal obstructions. Old herbals say that nettles are useful in weight-reducing diets. Treats tuberculosis, anemia, clorosis, rickets, scrofula, lymphatic problems. A good spring tonic. Boiled leaves applied externally will stop bleeding almost immediately. Externally applied for eczema.
A tincture made of the seeds is recommended for goiter and low thyroid. In raising the thyroid function, it effectively reduces the associated obesity.
The warm tea is used for asthma, hay fever, allergies, colds, fever, grippe, flu, mucous condition of the lungs, pleurisy, leprosy, diarrhea, cholecystitis, dysentery, hemorrhoids, various hemorrhages, scorbutic affections, and mucous in the colon in adults.
Boiling the entire plant in a mixture of vinegar and water, then adding eau de cologne was supposed to produce a good hair lotion. Combing the hair with expressed nettle juice was supposed to stimulate hair growth, bring back the natural color of the hair. Or dip fingers in and thoroughly massage the scalp and it will cure dandruff.
Pulped nettle leaves make a marvelous compress and bring cooling relief when inflammation is present.
Do not eat uncooked plants, especially old plants uncooked; they can produce kidney damage and symptoms of poisoning.
Handle the plants with care.
The bristly hairs of the nettle plant act like a tiny hypodermic needles, injecting an irritant substance under the skin when touched: handle with care.