Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica
Stinging nettle is one of the more common herbs to harvest in the Spring here in British Columbia. Although there are at least 6 species of Nettle we are going to focus on stinging nettle. Stinging nettle was originally found in North America, Europe and Africa, however now you can find it in many more places around the world. This plant gets its name from the sting it gives you when get to close. Even light contact with this plant will cause a mild to moderate stinging sensation on your skin.
Burn Nettle, Burn Weed, Burn Hazel
This single stemmed plant has broad sharply toothed leaves. It can grow 3-7 ft tall at full height with the leaves growing usually 1-3 inches in length. The stem and leaves are covered with tiny hairs.
Stinging nettle can be found in phosphorus and nitrogen rich soils and thus is often found around outhouses and barn yards.
Leaf, root, seed
Nettles are packed full of nutrients like magnesium, calcium, iron and protein. Nettles help support the digestive tract, urinary tract and the kidneys due to its toning actions. It is a diuretic and nutritive and is a great herb to support female related issues and PMS. Nettles are also astringent making them a good choice for supporting and toning the mucous membranes where excess menstrual bleeding, nose bleeds and seasonal sinus discharge is a concern.
There are so many benefits to this plant it’s no wonder why it's often the go to for many ailments and recipes. However, because of the abundant uses and ease of harvest it can be overly harvested and once large patches of nettle are not given the opportunity to regrow. So, remember to take only what you need, save some for nature and never harvest entire patches. At the bare minimum remember the 1:10 rule, for every one picked leave at least 10.
There are so many uses for nettle including a substitute in your favorite recipe. Try blanching it to add in with your lasagna or puree it into a soup. It can be dried to add to a tea blend or made into a tincture.
Nettle is one of the 9 sacred plants of pagan Anglo-Saxon thus having a rich history as a medicinal plant ally. Intentional flogging was performed to bring on inflammation for treatment of rheumatism.
Nettle was used for food when other food was in short supply, it was used to help lactating mothers with mild production and Hippocrates recorded at least 61 medicinal uses for nettle in various conditions.
Nettles have been known to cause hypersensitivities