Common Name: Stinging nettle, Urtica
Nettle strengthens and supports the whole body, traditionally being used as a spring tonic and general detoxifying remedy.
Nettle is a perennial plant with a shallow, branching root system that can grow to heights of 1-1.5 metres. The roots are often yellow in colour and the plant is characteristically covered in fine, visible stinging hairs. The leaves are a dark green and deeply serrated with pale pink flowers and seeds appearing on long drooping stems that protrude from the stem and leaf itself. Nettles grow wild in a variety of locations, but are most common in hedgerows, wood margins, waste ground, meadows, gardens and roadsides.
How it Works
Nettle is an incredibly nutritious herb, rich in vitamins A and C, but is also high in iron, magnesium, calcium, chromium, zinc, potassium, phosphorous and silicon. The nutritional content, particularly the iron, makes this herb an excellent support for blood-based disorders like anaemia. Nettles have an anti-histaminic response within the immune system, calming the allergic reaction, particularly in seasonal allergies and the skin. Nettle is classed as a diuretic and effectively removes acidity from inflamed joints, eliminating it through the urine. Nettle also contains a constituent known as urticin which has demonstrated the ability to balance the blood sugar.
Into the Heart of Nettle
Nettle is a survivor; it grows in almost any environment and often prolifically, which has unfortunately caused it to be classed as a weed. The nettle plant itself also contains very strong fibres that were traditionally used to make cloth, indicating the innate hardiness of the plant. There is some thought that taking nettle will literally sting you into action. It’s an incredibly nutritive herb that supports convalescence, nutritional disorders and blood based disorders, nourishing and strengthening the whole body. Almost in contrast to this, nettle also helps to cleanse the body and is a traditional herb chosen to ‘spring clean’ your insides with. It will remove excesses of uric acid and general acidity from the body in addition to supporting the general phases of detoxification that take place in the liver. Its anti-histaminic activity within the immune system also means that nettles have the ability to regulate the immune response, restoring a sense of balance, particularly for allergic skin reactions and reactions that target the respiratory system. Following on with the ‘balancing’ theme, nettles are also regulatory to the blood-sugar in both hypo and hyper situations.
Skin: Nettle is indicated in allergic skin conditions and reactions such as eczema and allergic dermatitis, partly due to its ability to calm the allergic immune response but also because it purifies the blood supply by supporting natural detoxification and cleansing processes within the body.
Immune: Nettle is anti-histaminic and is indicated in any allergic reaction, particularly seasonal disorders such as hay fever but also in allergic skin reactions. It will balance and calm and overactive immune system.
Musculoskeletal: Indicated where there is excessive acidity within the joints, such as in gout. Nettle will also act as a general diuretic, removing any excessive levels of heat and fluid around the joints.
Metabolic: A constituent known as urticin found in nettle has demonstrated the ability to balance the blood sugar, particularly targeting hyperglycaemia.
Liver: Nettle supports the phases of detoxification in the liver, enhancing natural cleansing and detoxification processes.
Urinary & Kidney: As nettle is a diuretic, it can help to reduce fluid accumulation and inflammatory congestion within the kidney and urinary systems, including the prostate where there may be early signs of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia).
External Uses: Apply fresh juice or tea to bleeding cuts & wounds, haemorrhoids, nosebleeds, burns, sunburn, scalds, bites & stings. Ointment/cream for irritating skin conditions, eg. eczema. “Urtication” involves stinging skin with fresh nettles to stimulate circulation, relieve pain & swelling of arthritis.