Growing herbs is way easier than growing flowers or vegetables in your garden. You can plant herbs indoors through pots or directly on the ground soil. As the herb needs minimal effort and attention, its benefits are incomparable. One of the effortless herbs to grow is Nettle.
Nettle, also known as stinging Nettle, nettle leaf, stinger, or Urtica Dioica, is an herbaceous perennial flowering plant primarily cultivated in Europe, western North Africa, and Asia. Currently, nettles are grown worldwide and are commonly used for diabetes and osteoarthritis. Treatment for urinary tract infections, kidney stones, hay fever, and others are also associated with Nettle, although scientific evidence to support these cases is not yet confirmed. Additionally, stinging Nettle is a source of fibers for textiles and cosmetics.
Origins of Nettle
Stinging Nettle is widely used in northern Europe, North America, North Africa, and some parts of Asia. It is not common in southern Europe and other regions with less moist soil. Today, nettle plants are widely planted in the United States, Canada, and the northernmost part of Mexico. Records show that nettles a hundred years ago were used to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. While it is possible to cultivate nettle herbs in a garden or field, it has been typically widespread in forests and alongside roads and meadows. Nettle can multiply and spread swiftly to different areas.
Nettle herb had a long history of use as a treatment for traditional medicine. Ancient Egyptians used stinging Nettle to cure arthritis, and Roman soldiers used this plant as a rubbing cream into the skin to help them stay warm. Between 45 to 58 BCE, there were records of Nettle’s stinging properties assisting soldiers of Julius Cesar in helping them stay awake and focused at night.
Characteristics of Nettle
The Nettle is typically two to four meters tall. It has thin hairs on the leaves that contain itchy chemicals released when it directly contacts the skin. Naturally, Nettle grows during summer and dies down to the ground when winter comes. The plant can spread with its yellow creeping rhizomes and stolon and often forms dense colonies. It has green and soft leaves that can grow up to six inches long, growing oppositely along the stem, and both stems and leaves are covered with numerous stinging and non-stinging trichomes (plant hairs).
The tiny flowers of Nettle are in the cluster, and stem tips are wind-pollinated. The nettle plant bears flowers in green or sometimes brownish that produce copious amounts of seeds. Its stems have hairs which most subspecies are hazardous. The tips can transform into needles that inject several chemicals, such as serotonin, histamine, and choline, which can cause contact allergy and paresthesia.
Benefits of Nettle
Frequently used as a nutritious and gentle detoxing herb, nettles have a long history of modulating the body’s inflammatory pathways and supporting respiratory health; further, nettles contain other benefits.
- The leaves and the roots of a nettle plant contain several vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, Vitamins A, C, and K, and several B vitamins. Also, it contains healthy fats, essential amino acids, lutein, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids.
- Experts associate nettles with preventing inflammation caused by seasonal allergies. It works as a blocking histamine receptor as well as stopping immune cells from giving out chemicals that can trigger specific allergy symptoms.
- Nettle plant contains the same chemical with a similar effect to insulin. Thus, it can help control blood sugar levels.
- Nettles can help support good wounds and burn to heal. It reduces excessive bleeding in wounds.
- The antioxidant property in nettle plants can help protect the liver from harmful toxins and inflammation.
How to make Nettle Tea?
You can make tea from nettle teabags or the grown harvest of your garden. With fresh leaves of nettles, making nettle tea is a healthy choice.
- Add water to the nettle leaves.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Let it rest for five minutes.
- Pour the mixture through a strainer.
- Add honey, cinnamon, or stevia to taste.
Even the safest and all-good natural drinks like tea can cause allergic reactions when used with certain medications. Be sure to contact your doctor before adding products out of Nettle since it can interact with drugs and may cause unwanted health conditions such as dehydration.
Further, consuming cooked or dried Nettle is considered safe. However, too much intake may cause some side effects. Before cooking or dying nettles, ensure that you are well-protected when you are handling nettles. As mentioned in the article, nettles can harm your skin and cause rashes, hives, bumps, and itchiness, which can be life-threatening. Additionally, for pregnant women, consuming nettles or food containing nettles must be avoided as it can trigger urine contractions, posing a higher risk of miscarriage.
The experts recognize evidence for nettle product benefits. With its different properties containing health benefits, it is an intelligent addition to your lifestyle routine to include nettle herbs. However, researchers also agree that there should be more studies carried out to understand better the long-lasting effects of nettles as this type of herb often causes side effects.