Nettle may appear like just another weed growing amidst your lush spring garden, but don’t pluck it just yet; it might be more useful than you think.
You can identify nettle (stinging nettle) by the fine hair on its leaves and stem. On touching it, you can sense a slight tingle, but there’s nothing to worry about. After all, this plant has been used as herbal medicine since ancient times. In Denmark, nettle fabrics have been discovered that date back to the Bronze Age, around 3000 BC!
More recently, people have been exploring and promoting the medicinal qualities of nettle. While you can add it to your salad or cook it with soup, traditional herbalists vouch for the use of dried nettle leaves to make tea. This tea is naturally high in active compounds that improve overall health. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of nettle:
1. Fights Free Radicals
The leaves, stem and the root of the plant contain numerous compounds, including flavonoids such as quercetin that have antioxidant properties. These antioxidants can help neutralize the free radicals in the body that otherwise cause a lot of damage to your cellular membranes and also increase the risk of cancer.
2. Benefits Heart Health
Nettle is a good source of potent anti-inflammatory compounds, such as beta-sitosterol, which has a structure similar to cholesterol and can benefit your heart, by lowering the absorption of dietary fats by your blood.
3. Good For Your Kidneys
A natural diuretic, nettle can be an effective remedy for maintaining kidney health. It can reduce the pain and swelling associated with gout by flushing the excess uric acid out of the body.
4. Soothes Skin Inflammation
Some herbalists also recommend nettle seed tea for topical uses to relieve itchiness and swelling of the skin. Just brew, cool and apply it on the affected area to soothe. This also works as a good remedy to rejuvenate dry skin.
Apart from the aforementioned uses, nettle tea is said to help with the detoxification of the intestinal tract, treating high blood pressure and anemia, and purifying the blood.
Here is a quick and simple recipe to brew this health tonic.
- 1 ounce dried nettle leaf (available in natural food stores, and online)
- 1 pint boiling water
- Add nettle leaf to boiling water, and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain off the water.
- Adult dosage: 1 to 4 cups per day; 3/4 cup every 3 hours during acute flare-ups, or 1/3 cup every hour.
Note: If you’re harvesting your own nettle leaves, it is important that you dry them completely before using, or the stinging leaves could irritate you. If you’re taking any other drugs or herbs for medicinal purposes, it is recommended that you consult an herbalist before you get started with nettle tea.