Most of us can relate to the Nettle as mostly an unpleasant experience when inadvertently coming in contact and receiving a tingling, itching sensation to the skin for hours to come. The more nettles that manage to sting you the longer it lasts and the more intensive the tingling. The humble and prolific nettle is also very nutritious containing vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as well as being packed with minerals including iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and selenium. The high iron content makes it useful for treatment of anemia when mixed with molasses.
It is this very stinging that has the ability to stimulate circulation and relieve pain and swelling. The Latin name is Urtica doica and it is the process of “urtication” (stinging the skin with fresh nettles) to stimulate circulation that was employed by the Romans, to keep themselves warm as the stinging brings blood to the surface. This same technique can be used to relieve swelling and pain from arthritis.
The leaf when taken internally is an excellent nourishing tonic and rejuvenative, especially for the kidneys and the adrenals. The nettle nourishes and cleanses the blood, strengthens blood vessels and clears toxins via the bowel. Spring is the ideal time to drink nettle tea, eat as a wilted (cooked) green vegetable, very much like spinach, or eat as a soup. The beauty about the nettle is that it is freely available, and when picked it quickly regrows.
Nettle soup takes approximately 20 minutes to make, is highly nourishing and delicious eaten either hot or cold. Nettle taken as a tea, drunk either hot or cold, is diuretic. However, it does not drain the body of potassium. As with all plants, nettles appear at the time of year when they are most beneficial to the human body. Spring is when we want to give support to the kidneys by shedding excess water and edema from the body in readiness for the summer heat. The added bonus is that nettle is also antiallergenic and is very effective in the treatment of hay fever. Nettle is better when taken on a daily basis, therefore for both detoxification and the treatment of hay fever, drink three cups daily.