I went for a walk the other day to enjoy the sunshine and get a bit in nature. I was in a beautiful area in Luxembourg, surrounded by green fields, and trees. It felt incredibly blissful! As I was walking I noticed how much nettle was around me. It was growing literally everywhere! Luckily I had a bag with me, so I filled it with this stingy green plant. And I did this with so much excitement, as I knew how many nutrients my body will get from it! Afterwords I cooked a simple meal with it, and it felt just so amazing to be able to pick up my own food and prepare it. It makes you so much more aware and connected with what you put in your body!
Nettle leaf is amongst the most valuable herbal remedies. It it high in vitamin C (two times higher than in lemons), vitamin A (higher than in carrots) K, and B complex. All of them are in a form that is easily useable by the body. Nettle’s iron content makes it a wonderful blood builder, and the vitamin C in it aids its absorption. Nettle is actually a well known remedy for people suffering from anemia (especially in a dried form). It also contains a lot of biologically active substances such as chlorophyll and flavonoids. Consuming foods, rich in chlorophyll is great to energise and tone the body, and can help the function of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. A highly alkaline herb, nettle acts as an antioxidant, helping to fight free radicals in the body. Stinging nettle is also beneficial during pregnancy due to its rich mineral value and 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.
Nettle can help treat the following ailments to name a few:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Neurological disorders
- Blood pressure
- Hair loss
- Kidney stones
- Internal and external bleeding
- Skin problems
- Anemia and fatigue
It is good to know that nettle needs to be picked while it is young. You can use the leafs, the roots and seeds. Collect the leafs from May till September (now is a great time!) and the roots from September till November.
HOW TO USE NETTLE?
You can use the nettle leaf to make yourself a wonderful tea or spring tonic. Simply add water to your collected nettle leaves and heat to a near boil. Use about two cups of water for a cup of leaves; there’s no need to measure. You can make the tea stronger by steeping longer, or weaker by adding more water. Once the water is near boiling, reduce heat and simmer for a couple minutes. Pour through a small strainer and the tea is ready to drink.
I like to include it in my food. The other day I cooked some brown rice, and added some carrots, onions, garlic and mushrooms in the pan. I then added loads of nettle leaves and some crushed walnuts and placed it in the oven for 15 minutes. It made a delicious dinner!
HOW TO FIND NETTLE?
Nettle is pretty easy to identify. They usually appear in bunches or groves in the same places year after year. Look for them in rich soil, disturbed habitats, moist woodlands, thickets, along rivers, fence lines, and along partially shaded trails. Considered a weed by many farmers and gardeners, no one will complain if you harvest a few nettles. The dark green, opposite leaves are a few centimetres long, with a rough, papery texture, and very coarse teeth. The leaf tip is pointed, and its base is heart-shaped. Do not forget to wear gloves when picking nettles, as they sting, and the sting can last for hours! Use scissors to chop the top leaves.
As with any new food you are introducing to your body, start with smaller amounts and gradually increase the consumption.
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE ON WILD FOODS AND THEIR PROPERTIES?
Check out this other article on Orla, which has 8 of them listed!