It’s mid-spring, the season for stinging nettle, and you can now find it in many farmers markets throughout New York City. Nettle is not just for culinary purposes; it also has myriad health benefits and other uses:
- Its main use is as a cleansing, detoxifying herb. It increases urine production and the elimination of waste productions.
- It feeds, tones, and rehabilitates the nerves.
- It is an anti-allergenic. It treats hay fever, asthma, itchy skin conditions, and insect bites.
- It has anti-inflammatory properties and is used for stiff and inflamed joints. It has been found to improve the symptoms of people suffering from gout, rheumatism, and arthritis. At one point, it was common to flay an arthritic joint with nettle leaves!
- The leaves improve breast milk production.
- After childbirth, nettle can help maintain levels of iron and calcium and can assist in detoxifying your system and restoring hormonal balance.
- It can be combined with herbs such as calendula and yellow dock to treat chronic skin problems like eczema and psoriasis.
- An infusion can be used to relieve inflamed skin or sunburn, as well as varicose veins.
- Taken internally, it helps to prevent or stop bleeding from wounds and nosebleeds.
- Powdered nettle roots in molasses are said to be a good cure for a sore throat.
- An infusion or a decoction of the roots can be used as a hair rinse to give the hair a thick and luxurious appearance. It is also helpful against dandruff.
- It can be used for natural dying and results in a greenish yellow hue.
When harvesting and preparing nettle, it’s a good idea to wear gardening gloves and be careful, because nettle does sting! Cooking, though, takes away the sting.
Balick, Michael J. Rodale’s 21st Century Herbal. New York: Rodale, 2014.
Chevallier, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2000.
Chevallier, Andrew. Herbal Remedies. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2007.
Gladstar, Rosemary. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 2008.
White, Martha. Traditional Home Remedies. United States: Yankee Publishing, 1997.