I find it strange how so many weed-herbs found their way into my garden. Especially as they appeared, out of the blue and made themselves at home on a more permanent basis.
Had I been overly concerned about the maintenance of a green lawn, they may never have stayed for more than one season. However, as my journey progresses, I have learned that those herbs that you find growing close to you, are more often than not, the ones you need in your life.
Stinging Nettle is one of those surprises. First, I have never even heard of the plant, let alone knew what it looked like or that it stung. Second, my ritual of feeding the birds in my garden, coupled with their messy eating habits have brought nettle to my doorstep.
Yes, I have noticed all the new members in my garden on what was my “supposed” to be new lawn.
I did not pay much attention, thinking the rains and the recently added lawn to my once barren backyard was a combination of hidden seeds that finally germinated. That was until I got stung! Oh my word, the sting was unexpected and very painful. Fortunately, I had Hippie Healing Balm at hand and I could apply that to help with the pain. Naturally, the minute I got stung it was as if a message was transmitted and instantly I knew THIS was Stinging Nettles.
It is easy to think that Nettles is an inconvenience if you are not familiar with their health and home benefits.
For me, the most interesting part is that Nettles is a great textile plant. They have been used up until the 19th century for household articles and fishing nets in Scotland. The leaves of Nettles produce a green dye and was historically used to make camouflage in Europe. While roots boiled with Alum will create a nice yellow.
The fibers and stalks of Nettles are stronger than flax when spun and woven and look similar to hemp, it is said that the soft fibers can be woven into fabric as strong as hemp and soft as cotton.
It is my dream to one-day harvest, process, and further spin, and weave wild crafted Nettles into textile. I am keeping this one on my bucket list.
I invite you to look at this wonderful link on how stinging nettle is turned into textile; it is definitely worth the watch. https://vimeo.com/225183045
STINGING NETTLE, KNOWN AS URTICA DIOICA
Other names for Nettles is Devils Claw, Devils Plaything, Devil’s Apron, Sting-Leaf, and Burn Weed.
Here is a list of some of their beneficial health uses
- Nettle improves the bodies metabolic efficiency and boost the immunity
- Nettle increase circulation and improve energy levels
- Nettle is an excellent source of iron and a fantastic tonic herb for those who have anemia
- Nettle has a high calcium content and help to ward off osteoporosis
- Nettle has a huge amount of trace minerals, and consumption of nettles improve resistance to allergies, asthma, eczema and hay fever
- Can be used for to release excess water (water retention) and is a good digestive tonic
- It has been used to encourage the regrowth of the thyroid after surgery
- Nettles encourage the production of breast milk
- Nettle promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails
- Used as a hair rinse it will leave hair with a beautiful shine and can relieve any scalp infections
- Manage menstruation and minimise menopausal symptoms
- Nettle root improves prostate health and is used to bring down excess swelling for enlarged prostates
Identification, growth, and harvesting of Nettles
Nettles grow up to one meter tall but can grow as much as two meters when the conditions are right. They love to come up in the same location year on year, thriving in a rich soil. You may find them in moist woodlands, thickets, disturbed areas, partially shaded trails and riversides, and if you feed the birds wild birdseed, in your garden. The leaves are somewhat heart-shaped. The whole plant has tiny fuzzy hairs that sting. Plants growing in shady areas have fewer needles than those grown in the sun. It has white flowers and tastes somewhat like spinach. When nettles are soaked or cooked, they no longer sting.
Besides the fact that they are a nutritious food source, they are also great as a liquid plant food when combined with Comfrey. Nettle is a good companion plant for strawberries. Stinging Nettles are an important larval food for many types of butterflies and moths.
How to treat a sting
It is important not to touch and scratch this area, as any meddling will further aggravate and irritate the skin. Stings can last anything from as little as a few minutes for some people, and up to a few days for others. The first time I was stung my skin erupted in tiny red bumps and the itching never stopped, and yes, I actually scratched it!
They say you can use the crushed leaves of yellow dock, jewelweed, mint, rosemary, and sage to provide relief from the sting. From my experience last week with the wasp, I would just chew a bit of plantain and put that on, as plantain has the ability to draw poisons to the surface and heal the skin.
Hiding in the Green
Young and tender tops are tasty when cooked if you use older leaves your nettle may be tough and not so nice, rather use those for tea.
You can use nettles in apple cider vinegar to create a natural calcium supplement. Simply chop your fresh nettles, add apple cider (or Kombucha) vinegar. Close and stand for six weeks. Strain and use over salads, beans etc. for a calcium boost.
There are so many wonderful recipes out there. I have made nettle pesto before which is a wonderful way to get increase my iron with a food a love. Today I made a nettle pasta dish with buttered nettles, gem squash, fresh button mushrooms, and dried tomato pieces. It was divine!
Here are a few recipes I thought you might like to try out.
Sautéed Nettles With Onions and Pasta (2-3 Servings)
- 8 cups stinging nettles, rinsed well and chopped into smaller pieces if desired (use tongs while rinsing and dealing with nettles)
- ½ cup spring onions or ramps, sliced
- 2 Tbsp butter, preferably pastured
- 2 Tbsp other fat, like bacon grease, coconut oil, lard, etc. (we like bacon grease)
- ½ cup cooked ham, cubed (optional)
- 1 cup noodles, uncooked
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- freshly grated parmesan
Boil water and cook noodles. Strain noodles, add a little olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside. Melt fats in a large skillet over medium heat. Add spring onions and sauté for a few minutes. Using tongs, carefully add nettles to skillet and toss in fat and garlic until cooked down. Add optional cubed ham and toss until warm. Add noodles and gently toss all ingredients together to combine. Season with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan and enjoy!
Stinging Nettle Hummus (Prep Time: 15 minutes Yield: Serves 12)
This hummus is a healthy dip that will have your family wanting more.
- 1 28-ounce (796ml) can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 4 cups fresh stinging nettle tops and leaves
- 2 large lemons juiced
- 1/4 cup well-stirred tahini
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- sea salt and garlic powder to taste
First, bring a pot of water to a boil then place the nettles in it for 30 seconds. Drain (keep the fluid for tea should you desire), and set aside. Combine tahini and lemon juice in a food processor and blend for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of processor bowl then process another 30 seconds. Add olive oil and spices. Process for 30 seconds; scrape sides and bottom of processing bowl then process another 30 seconds. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor, process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl, add remaining chickpeas and process for 1 to 2 minutes or until thick and smooth. Add in the stinging nettle and process 20 seconds. If the hummus is too thick slowly add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water until the consistency is perfect.Store your hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate up to one week.
Stinging Nettle Pesto
- 1/2 cup blanched nettles (drained)
- 1/4 chopped onion
- 1 cup olive oil (or more depending on desired consistency)
- 2 lemons, squeezed juice, and zest
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1/4 tsp chili flakes (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Place nettles, onion, and garlic in a blender. Slowly add olive oil as you blend. Add lemon juice and zest, continue to blend until smooth. Add chili flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. The pesto should be thinner than a typical pesto. It will keep well for 3-5 days (covered) in your refrigerator.
My Pasta Dish
Is effective to control itching and sneezing associated with allergies and hay fever. It is also a diuretic and improves the kidney function.
Nettle Herbal Infusion
Fill a 1L jar with 30 gram dried nettle herb, add boiling water, and close with a tight lid. CONSOL bottles work well. Allow to steep for 4 hours, strain and drink 2-4 cups a day. Nettle infusion nourishes and rebuilds adrenals, kidneys, blood vessels, skin, and hair.
Nettle Root Herbal Tincture
Tinctures are created by adding fresh plant matter into alcohol to extract the medicinal properties of the herb and to preserve the medicine for later use.
Fill a jar with fresh chopped stinging nettle root and vodka. Label and wait six weeks. Remember that roots are harvested in Autumn, so if you identify your Nettle patch now, you would know where to find them to make your own tincture. I will be sure to sow new Nettles now to have a large enough patch for my own tincture when Autumn comes around. I found seeds in the wild bird seed mix (in case you want to plant your own too).
The tincture of nettle can be used to stop external bleeding by applying externally amd to reduce the swelling of enlarged prostate glands
Nettle Flower Essence as Vibrational Healing
When making flower essences, I always have to meditate on the essence to find out what healing messages is stored within. It is so comforting to read that my own experiences in meditation is similar to that of others on spiritual and energetic uses.
Stinging Nettle wants to help you to build your strength from the inside. Just like a deeply rooted tree, when you are strong from the inside, the winds of change and challenges may blow, however, these winds will be a reminder of the inner strength you hold in your core.
All obstacles are merely stepping stones, helping you to achieve greater things. When you feel overwhelmed, take the time to remember the growth you have already had. Be grateful for every opportunity that allows you to grow spiritually and enable you to learn more about yourself.
This wonderful essence is available in the I’natuarls shop –> stinging-nettle-flower-essence/
Folklore & Magic
“Spiritual and Energetic Uses: Nettle teaches us how to transmute painful life experiences into personal change and growth, just as the stinging nettle herself yields a wonderful tonic. Nettle renders strength to the emotions, underpinning them and allowing a person to use them to grow and manifest change.
Nettle can be used to contact the inner warrior, to fan the flames of courage and assertiveness in those who need to contact their own fiery emotions in order to break free from bad patterns and victim mentality. Nettle reminds us of our own resilience and power, allowing us to cope with bad situations and see a way out of problems, as well as making our emotions less overpowering. Nettle is the herb to bring out the qualities required in a leader – enthusiasm, commitment and strength of purpose, as well as the ability to seize the initiative.
Nettle is such a sharp, spiky plant in energy at first glance, but if you take the time to approach her properly and get to know her, she is full of wisdom and goodness. I think this plant can be used to protect those who are easily overwhelmed, to help them define structure and boundaries and to protect their inner selves more. Conversely, I’d also give her to those (like myself) who hide behind a spiky facade, to help them realize their own value and worth. I’d certainly give nettle to those who constantly spread themselves too thin and who are low on energy as a result. Nettle will give strength and clarity, to help them decide which things to hold on to and which to let go.
Magical Uses: A bunch of herbs placed under the bed of a sick person will encourage speedy recovery, though personally, I think giving them nettle tea to drink would be an equally good idea!
Carried in the hand, nettle wards off ghosts and evil spirits, although I wonder how much of this is because fresh nettle would sting so badly that you wouldn’t pay any attention to ghosts if you were carrying the plant around! Curses can be removed and returned to the sender by carrying nettle in a sachet at all times, or by stuffing a poppet with the leaves. Nettle sprinkled around the home will ward out evil, and carried with Yarrow can remove fear, not overly surprising as Yarrow is another warrior herb. Before meddling with fear, though, ask yourself what it is that you are afraid of, and what lessons you can learn from that fear. Remember that fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Nettle, being allied to the Summerlands, Earth and the Underworld, teaches perseverance and the ability to transmute dark into light and can be used for long-lasting magical undertakings, and drunk as a wine or beer at rites of passage.
Brooms made of Nettle are used to sweep out evil and send it back”
I am not a qualified herbalist, nor do I claim to be. I am passionate about natural healing and I share what I have learned and how I personally use or apply the herbs in my own life. Always do your own research, and only use herbs once you are certain they are safe and have consulted with either your doctor or a qualified herbalist. Your health is in your hands.
I welcome your feedback on my article.
In no particular order, information has been found from the following links which you are welcome to click on for further reading, should you wish too:
***Top Image is a combination of images found on the Web and I do not claim them as my own.