Nettle (Urtica diocia)
Here in Western North Carolina, I am finding patches of Stinging Nettles quickly growing! I have found different species of stinging nettles growing all over the country. This plant grows easily in swampy places, and likes to spread out similar to Mint and Mugwort. So, if you’re planting Stinging Nettles, be sure to do so in an isolated corner of your garden.
Most people think of the ‘Stinging’ part of Nettles, and get scared away from this beneficial herb. Yes, it’s true! If you harvest Urtica diocia without gloves and long sleeves, you will be tingly for a while. This property of the plant is not poisonous or dangerous, however. Some sources claim that the stinging from Nettles will soothe arthritis pain!
The beneficial uses of Urtica diocia are far and wide. I mostly think of Stinging Nettle as a daily tonic. It acts as a diuretic to promote kidney function, and helps to boost immunity to seasonal allergies. Stinging Nettle is a companion in joint and bone healing because it contains both Vitamin D and Calcium, which are essential to bone growth and strength. This plant is also essential in prenatal care because of the volume of nutrients.
Urtica diocia infusion (tea) is a tonic that you can enjoy daily! It is helpful to drink the tea of this herb frequently to maintain health. Commercial tea bags are often costly and poor quality, so I suggest buying your Stinging Nettles from a bulk herb bin at your local co-op. To make it simple, you can prepare a quart of nettle tea at a time (apx. 2 TBS dried herb per quart), and strained through a sieve. This will make it possible to have tea prepared when you’re ready to drink it, within a 24-hour period.
The stinging aspect of Urtica Diocia protects the power of this plant! While the medicine is there, most people are afraid to try it. When the leaves are dried in a store, there is no more stinging, so start there. After you get comfortable with what this plant has to offer, we’ll start talking about harvesting, identification, and processing and drying methods.