June 27, 2016
or Urtica dioica, Urtica urens
It seems unlikely that anything as prickly and annoying as stinging nettle could be healthful; but it is. The prickles can cause a dermatitis and sting, but if placed on painful areas of arms and legs from rheumatism, the increase in blood flow to the area helps reduce the pain. Roman soldiers rubbed stinging nettle on themselves to keep warm.
Nettle has had many different uses over the years. It has been smoked to help asthma and cough. The American Indians used it in their diet to help support smaller but strong healthy babies that survived delivery. Nettle has diuretic properties to help with edema from pregnancy and other causes. Nettle is chock full of vitamins and nutrients and tasty when cooked (the prickliness goes away when heated thoroughly). It has been used to boost lactation, regulate menses, help anemia, and support liver function.
Modern science has determined that nettle reduces the effects of histamine causing reduction in hay fever and allergy related mucous. The flavonoids in nettle produce the diuretic effect. It also has protein sugars and polysaccharides that boost the immune system and create an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Dr. Magryta and I recommend it in the form of D-Hist for seasonal allergies.
The prickly plants grow tall in sunny conditions over a variety of habitats. The early spring shoots before they bloom are tastiest but can be used all season. The root is used to help benign prostatic hypertrophy symptoms.