Freshly picked and washed nettles for salads and tea
Identifying Stinging Nettle: Nettle is a perennial herb with opposite deep green leaves with serrated edges and tiny green flowers. The stems are noticeably square. Plants grow 3-7 feet tall. The stalk and underside of the leaves are covered in tiny hairs that rise from a gland containing formic acid.
Stinging Nettles can be found along rivers, lakes, stream beds, forests and any disturbed areas. The plant thrives in sunny locations with wet, nitrogen rich soils. Sting nettles are among the first greens in the spring and continue growing into the first frost of winter. The flowers of Stinging nettle bloom between June-September.
Why do Stinging nettles sting? They have many hollow 'hairs' on the stalk and underside of the leaves. These hairs contain chemicals such as histamine and formic acid. When these compounds come into contact with the skin they cause a stinging and burning sensation often accompanied by small red bumps....the 'Nettle Rash'. Always wear gloves when harvesting and handling nettles.
The practice called Urtication dates back 1000's of years. Grasp the plant with a gloved hand at the cut end and 'lash' the sore, swollen areas of your body. Start out light and add more as needed. I know...WHY ON EARTH would I purposely lash myself with stinging nettles you ask?? To help reduce inflammation from health conditions such as a bad sprain, arthritis and even my carpol tunnel. HOW does nettles help inflammation?? The 'sting' injects histamines and in response, our body sends out anti-histamines to the 'rash' area and other inflamed areas, thereby reducing inflammation.
The plants contain high levels of iron, calcium, folic acid, potassium, manganese, carotenoids, and vitamin C, making them the best nutritious wild green one can find.
Pick the small little plants for salads or boiled like spinach. Use the top 2/3 leaves of the plants to dry for tea. The older the nettle plant gets the more fibrous the stalks become and not sought after to eat. Do not eat after flowering. Older plants can be harvested for their fiber for use in textiles and clothing. The green pigments of the nettle have been used as a traditional dye.
The use of Urtia dioica to treat conditions or disease is an ancient practice that should be done with caution and with your physicians supervision. Although generally considered safe nettles has been known to cause upset stomach, fluid retention and/or rash in some individuals. Women who are pregnant, nursing or planning on pregnancy should avoid nettles.
This is not intended to diagnose or treat any ailment. This is for educational purposes only. Only ingest wild herbs and plants that you harvest and know the identity of 100%. Do not take any herb or plant medicine without consulting your health care provider or naturopathic doctor.