Urtica dioica, or better and more commonly known as nettle, is a perennial plant that is a member of the genus Urtica. Nettle can be known by many other names as well including Ortie, Urtiga, Isirgan, Kazink, Gerrais, Grand Ortie, Chichicaste, Stinging Nettle, Common Nettle, Ortiga, and Brennessel. Nettle is most well known for its culinary, medicinal and clothing purposes, having been used for centuries around the world. Archaeologists in China have found perfectly preserved clothing made of nettle that dates back to over 2,000 years ago. While nettle is native to western Asia and Africa, it has been naturalized throughout the years and can be found in many other places around the world including North America and Europe. Did you know that nettle was used to make clothing during World War II? Specifically, it was used by the Germans for the manufacturing of their uniforms.
This perennial plant can grow up to anywhere from 3 to 7 feet high. Its roots are large and are a bright yellow in color. The stem is erect and wiry, and is green in color. The leaves of the nettle plant are green and grow opposite of each other along the stem. Each leaf usually grows about 1 to 3 inches in length and has strongly serrated edges. The stem and the leaves of the plant are both covered in little stinging hairs. These hairs are used to protect the plant from predators, the tips can come off when touched and transform the hairs into needles. These hairs can cause welts.
Nettle leaf can be used for many different industries and products. Besides being known for their culinary, clothing, and medicinal purposes, the leaves can also be used for bath and body products, soap making, skin care, and hair care. Common bath and body products that can include nettle leaf are shampoos and conditioners, soap, massage oils, lip balms, bath bombs, face masks, scrubs, facial toners, lotions, ointments, bath teas, creams, and natural foot treatments. Did you know that nettle is very popular in folklore and various fairy tales throughout the world? There is one fairy tale called “The Wild Swans,” where the heroine has to make shirts out of nettle to cure her eleven brothers. They have all been turned into swans by their evil stepmother.
Like any other plant, nettle has its own specific conditions needed to grow properly. It prefers to grow in areas with moist soils, but can tolerate areas with very wet soils as well. Because it is very tolerant of different soils, nettle can grow in soils with pH levels of anywhere from 5.5 to 7.5. Nettle does prefer areas with partial shade from the sun, however it can still survive in areas with full exposure. This plant is actually a common understory plant found in wet areas nears bodies of water. Nettle is most commonly found near meadows and marshes, woodland clearings, forests, road sides, and mountain slopes.
Nettle should be planted during late autumn and harvested during the next spring. The seeds will actually begin to germinate only 10 to 14 days after being planted, but they will not be ready to harvest for at least 80 to 90 days. Nettle is very hardy and can quickly spread so each one should be planted at least 8 inches apart to give the roots enough room to grow. It will be ready to be harvested during early spring through summer time, around mid-May to July. Gloves should be worn when harvesting the leaves so as to avoid getting stung by the hairs.
This plant can actually be planted to help protect other plants from pests. Because of its hairs, it works to keep animals and other pests away from any other plants.
One of the most well known uses for nettle leaf is for its culinary purposes. Cooking or drying the leaves actually neutralizes the sting of the hairs, making the leaves easy to eat. They can be used as an ingredient for soups, as a green coloring agent for many foods and medicines, and even used as a main ingredient for nettle beer. An herbal tea can be made using dried leaves, and they can also be added to a Chinese tonic. Nettle leaves can be steamed and eaten as a vegetable, with a flavor similar to spinach. Pesto, polenta, and puree can all include nettle, and it can even be included as a flavoring agent for some cheeses.
Bath and Body Products
Nettle leaf can be used in many different products and industries. Besides its various culinary uses, it can also be used for medicinal purposes, bath and body products, skin care, soap making, and hair care. When used for soap making, it provides better cleansing for any oily skin.
Common bath and body products that can include nettle leaf are massage oils, lotions, creams, ointments, lip balms, bath bombs, face masks, scrubs, facial toners, shampoos and conditioners, natural foot treatments, and bath teas.
There are many wonderful skin care benefits to using nettle leaf. It helps to cleanse oily skin as well as treating acne, eczema, chicken pox, insect bites, and other blemishes. Nettle leaves can also be used to treat burns and reduce any scarring from the burns. Nettle leaves also work to keep the skin looking young while fighting the signs of aging.
When used for hair care, nettle leaves treat and prevent dandruff, help to thicken the hair, and also promote new hair growth. It also helps to stop hair loss, making the hair grow lush and healthy.
There are many wonderful medicinal benefits to using nettle leaves. Nettle contains many important vitamins and minerals that are important to the body including potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, silica, manganese, iodine, sodium, sulfur, silicon, and vitamins A, B, C, D, and K. Nettle also has many antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties.
In traditional Austrian medicine, nettle tea and fresh nettle leaves are used as treatment for many conditions including the flu, rheumatism, gout, kidney disorders, and urinary tract disorders.
Native American women used nettle leaf as an aid for pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing. Nettle leaf also helps to keep hormone levels in balance in women, keeps fingernails healthy and growing properly, and it also fights fatigue and anemia.
In Germany, it has long been tradition to use nettle leaf for arthritis. It also works to treat inflammation.
Nettle leaf can greatly strengthen your immune system. It works to regulate hormone levels and metabolism in men, as well as working to improve asthma, sneezing, hay fever, and itching. The leaves can even be used to treat allergies.
Many prostate diseases can be treated using nettle leaves, including Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, meaning an enlarged prostate. The leaves work to reduce and treat the disease, stopping cell growth and division around the prostate.
Nettle leaves can also work as a styptic, or an “arrestor of bleeding.” They help with many internal bleeding problems including hemorrhoids, excessive menstrual bleeding, vaginal bleeding, stomach and lung bleeding, and even nose bleeds.
There are many other conditions that can be treated using nettle leaves as well including urinary tract infections, cough, bronchitis, congestion, hypertension, osteoarthritis, cancer, irritable bladder, frequent or painful urination, dysentery, diarrhea, and diabetes.
In the UK, there is actually an annual World Nettle Eating Championship. The competitors actually try to eat as much of the raw plant as possible.
Nettle fibers are used to make rope and linens.
Nature’s Garden sells nettle leaves and nettle leaf powder for external use only. We do not sell it as a food item. The information above talks about how great nettle is for many industries, however we only sell it for external use. We provide this data for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using this product or any of this information for treatment purposes.