Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioca)
A perennial plant found all over the world. The square, bristly stem grows from 2 to 7 feet high and bears opposite, cordate, deeply serrate, pointed leaves which are downy underneath. The small, greenish flowers grow in axillary clusters from June
Family: Urticaceae (Nettle family)
Other Names: Great stinging nettle, Great nettle
Flowers: June – September
Parts Used: Whole plant
Habitat: Waste places and roadsides. Northward from Colorado, Missouri, and South Carolina.
History: The American Indians used Nettle as a counter-irritant when in pain, by striking affected parts with the branches. A root decoction wad made to bathe rheumatic pains and joint stiffness. Pounded leaves rubbed on limbs, and hot poultices of the bruised leaves were also used to dress rheumatic discomfort.
In Russia, nettle grows everywhere. After 300 years, modern science has established and gives credit to several of the secrets of Nettle as an antiseptic, astringent, and blood purifier.
Constituents: Formic acid, Histamine, Acetylcholine, 5-hydroxytryptamine
Properties: Astringent, diuretic, hemostatic, emmenagogue, anthelmintic, periodic.
Nettle is highly regarded as a “blood builder”. It is used to treat anemia and poor circulation, lowers blood sugar, acts as a laxative and diuretic, cleanses the system, expels gravel from the bladder, helpful for piles, improves goiter, reduces uric acid. Also rich in minerals & enzymes. Contains both iron and vitamin C which aids iron absorption.
The fresh juice or an infusion of the nettle plant has been used to stimulate the digestive system and to promote milk flow in nursing mothers. As an astringent it is also used for blood in the urine, hemorrhoids, and excessive menstrual flow. Nettle is a helpful remedy for ailments of the urinary tract and is said to reduce rheumatic problems and colds. A decoction of the plant is good for diarrhea. A decoction of the plant is recommended for external use on the scalp for loss of hair.
Preparations and Dosages:
Infusion: Steep 2 to 3 tablespoons leaves or plant in 1 cup water for 10 minutes.
Tincture: 15 to 20 drops in a little water, 3 times daily on empty stomach.
Juice: Mix with an equal amount of water and take 1 teaspoon at a time.
Decoction: Take 2 to 4 fluid ounces.
Scalp Wash: Boil 3 to 4 ounces of chopped leaves in 2 cups water and 2 cups vinegar for a short time.
Contact Dermatitis When you brush by the plant and it touches your skin, the tiny hollow hairs break off and release an acid (formic acid) which irritates the skin and causes white itchy spots to appear and a stinging sensation. If you do come in contact with the stinging hairs, scrub the affected area with crushed stems of Jewelweed and crushed Mullein leaves.
Stinging Nettle is also a wild food.