Nettle is a plant that has endeared itself to us throughout the ages. Known traditionally as a tonic for good health, Shakespeare makes mention of nettle when his character Hotspur warns, " ‘Tis dangerous to take a cold, to sleep, to drink, but I tell you, out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety" (I Henry IV, Act II Scene 3).
You may have experienced nettle’s prickly sting when walking in woodland or meadows, and a painful rash on your limbs to go with it. The plant has many hollow stinging hairs called ‘trichomes’ on its leaves and stems, which act like needles that inject histamine and other chemicals that produce a stinging sensation.
Nettles are a herbaceous, perennial flowering plant native to Europe, Asia, Northern Africa, and North America. It has a high nutritional content - vitamins A, C and E as well as B1, B2, B3 and B5. It is rich in protein, calcium, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium and zinc. It also contains alpha and beta hydroxysitosterols, appreciable amounts of quercetin and rutin. This makes it a popular food source when steamed or I personally like made into a pesto. It does lose its sting when cooked!
You may use the leaf, seed or root and each one has different medicinal qualities which your herbalist will be able to advise on.
The word I associate most with Nettle is Nourishing - ideal for the often depleting post-partum period. The tea is very high in the minerals iron, calcium and silica and so helpful for any blood or hair loss. For the new mum 2-3 cups of nettle tea will help in those early days to prevent extreme exhaustion when you are not getting a good night's sleep. Nettle tea will also increase your milk supply.
If I can’t pick them myself, I buy bags of nettles from my local farmers market, or I enjoy the Pukka Cleanse tea. I also make it up as apart of bespoke dried teas for my clients. Enjoy some of the benefits of nettle for yourself this spring 🌿