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Stinging Nettles
By Debi Pearl - July 27, 1999
nettleI remember as a child...one night I was chasing lightning bugs and discovered Stinging Nettle (simply known as nettle). At the time, I never would have dreamed that it were such an important part of history and of good health. Nettle is aptly named for the tiny little stinging hairs all over the stems. When you rub against the seemingly innocent plants it feels like biting ants. Because of their stinging hairs, they are easy to identify, thus easy to find in the wild. There are some varieties that can cause stinging for weeks. The sting of nettle has been and is still used to put on areas of the body where circulation is needed. That use is called urtication. Nettle is a wonderfully nutritional plant. It is rich in chlorophyll, calcium, silicon, chromium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. It contains vitamins A, C, D, and E, along with the minerals sodium, copper, and iron. It is very high in protein. Traditionally it has been used as a spring tonic. After a long winter, when the body needed a good boost, it was cooked as greens and eaten. It doesn’t sting after it is steamed or cooked. Although I must tell you, our hippie neighbors tried a big meal of nettle cooked as greens. They said they were delicious. Two hours later, they were thoroughly sick to their stomachs. Too much of a good thing can get quite hard to digest. But then they were always overdosing anyhow. The moral to their story is, eat your nettle in moderation. A small amount of the herb added to a pot of beans can greatly increase your nutritional intake, which could make a big difference in good health if you were in a situation where your vitamin and mineral intake was otherwise limited. Without proper vitamins and minerals, bodily functions soon begin to break down causing disease or weakness. For instance, sometimes low chromium levels in the body can cause high blood sugar levels. And, high blood pressure can sometimes be corrected with potassium. Add a small amount of nettle to your diet in the way of tea, or added to a pot of soup, and these problems could be eliminated. If you know anyone who has lost all their get-up-and-go, tell them to get up and go get some nettle for the high iron and chlorophyll content. Most chlorophyll sold in health-food stores is made from this plant. For ladies expecting babies, it is a helpful source of iron and calcium. Together with red raspberry and alfalfa, nettle is a good prenatal herbal. Nettle is a diuretic, which means it helps the body flush out waste and toxins by increasing the urine flow. Thus, it is used in many kidney and bladder herbals.   Return to all articles