Ever go on a barefoot stroll in the garden, only to run inside crying from the stinging, burning sensation left by the leaves of that vicious and voracious weed– stinging nettle?
Sorry, was that just me? I’m kind of a drama queen.
But even if you’ve been burned by this inconspicuous pointy-leaf groundcover, like me, resist the urge to weed it all out of your garden! Stinging nettle is actually a phenomenal herb to have at hand.
Brewed into a tea, stinging nettle has numerous health benefits and has been used as a natural remedy since the dawn of time… or at least since someone figured out how to boil water to make tea.
It’s kind of catch-all for a cornucopia of ailments, including muscle and joint pain, urinary disorders, allergies, skin irritations, and digestive problems.
9 Incredible Health Benefits of Nettle Tea
As a natural remedy for many types of allergies, nettle is considered effective by people who have sensitive allergies. Those that try it often swear by its effectiveness, preferring it over anti-allergy medicines.
Muscle and Joint Pain Relief
Due to its natural anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, nettle tea treats muscle and joint pain.
In fact, one study evaluated the effect on people with osteoarthritis that used nettle in combination with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The study found that this combination increased the effectiveness of the drug to relieve arthritic pain.
Other research shows that the plant relieves the symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduces the need for pain medication.
Bone Density Support
Nettle tea provides high concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and iron. The plant also contains vitamins D and K which help the bones use calcium to protect bone density.
Within our bodies, magnesium is stored in the bones. It supports bone strength and helps with calcium absorption. Generally, low magnesium levels go hand in hand with osteoporosis, a chronic disease of weak and fragile bones.
Four: Heart Health and Anemia Prevention
Nettle is loaded with vitamins and minerals considered to be powerful cardiac protectors. This is because it is a rich source of vitamin A and vitamin C, beta-carotene, and other carotenoids.
Due to its high content of vitamin C and iron—which helps the body boost red blood cell production—it can prevent anemia.
The nettle plant also contains flavonoids called quercetin and kaempferol. They help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Thanks to this powerful source of iron and potassium, nettle allows blood vessels to relax and helps with healthy circulation.
Nettle has antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-pain properties. Its long and effective history of treating skin irritations makes it an excellent recommendation in cases of eczema and acne.
It reduces redness and swelling, soothes itching, and fosters faster healing. To take advantage of these skin benefits, consume nettle tea normally and/or apply as a poultice directly to the skin.
Urinary, Kidney, and Prostate Health
Nettle is a diuretic and promotes healthy urination. Therefore, it is commonly used as a natural remedy against urinary tract infections.
Nettle also helps prevent kidney stones. It does this by reducing the accumulation of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys that contribute to the formation of the most common types of kidney stones.
Nettle is ideal for certain symptoms of urinary infection. As such, use nettle plant extracts to treat the urinary symptoms of an enlarged prostate, including the frequent need to urinate and difficulty emptying the bladder.
Immune System Support
Nettle contains several immuno-stimulating compounds, including flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamins A and C. These natural antioxidants help protect immune cells from damage that can weaken the immune function.
Nettle extracts strengthen the immune response which encourages immune cell activity.
Scientists have discovered that this plant stimulates the T lymphocytes of the immune system which help fight infections and other pathogens in the body.
Nettle is good for your digestive health. It prevents the growth of harmful bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.
Since it has anti-inflammatory properties, nettle can help you regulate digestion, reduce constipation and alleviate upset stomach, and maintain overall intestinal health.
One of the many benefits of nettle tea is hair protection. To use nettle tea as a hair tonic, simply pour lukewarm tea on your hair in your last rinse and massage your hair gently. It helps to promote regrowth and limit hair loss.
Time to Pick the Nettles!
To pick nettle, you first must identify the nettle plant. It’s important never to consume any plant unless you’re sure about what you have.
Once you’ve made a positive identification, you’re ready. How do you pick a stinging nettle? Very, very carefully.
When you make direct contact with nettle leaves, which are covered in tiny hairs that release histamines and other painful chemicals, they cause a burning and stinging sensation on the skin.
So, you will have to put on gloves. Now, you can harvest the stems and leaves by cutting the plant at the stem about 2 – 3 inches from the base. After harvesting, you can either boil and serve or dry and store.
Either way, rinse the nettle thoroughly by swishing it in a bowl of cold water. Take it out and shake it off.
If you’re boiling it fresh for tea: Place a handful of leaves in a pot of boiled water and let steep for 3 – 5 minutes. This makes a really potent tea.
If you want to dry the nettle, which tends to make a milder, nicer tea: Pat the nettle as dry as possible with clean towels, tie in bunches of about five stems each, and hang in a clean, dry place. The drying time will vary.
When nettle is completely dry (stems must also be dried through), store nettle in airtight bags or jars. Brew a teaspoon of dried nettle in a cup of hot water for 3 – 5 minutes. Strain out leaves and stems before serving. (Or use a tea ball.)
Contraindications of Nettle Tea
Nettle tea interacts with many over-the-counter and prescription medications including diuretics, high blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, anticoagulants, and lithium.
So, if you are on any kind of prescription medications, seek the guidance of your doctor or pharmacist-herbalist before adding nettle tea into your health regime.
I’m a huge fan of nettle tea, but if you want to take your first foray into tea-drinking with something a little more common, try sipping a cup of green tea! It’s got a ton of health benefits, too.
And who knows, maybe one thing will lead to another and you’ll be out there foraging for nettle before you know it– just remember to wear your garden gloves!
Find out more about Melinda and see more of her posts here.