It may seem hard to get excited about consuming a plant which is commonly referred to as, "Stinging Nettles." Many people know the herb as an annoying garden weed, or a dangerous plant to avoid. Others have been warned to be frightened of the plant, as it delivers quite a stinging bite when it comes into contact with the skin. And, while it is true that you should take care when dealing with nettles in the plant form, after you read about the incredibly powerful effects of this herb on many systems in the human body, you make rethink your initial aversion to this potent little weed.
During the springtime, this "wonder weed" can be found growing in massive groves, especially in places that provide the exact conditions that nettles love: a semi-shady spot in some rich soil. For hundreds of years, many cultures from all over the world have been ingesting nettles as a energy tonic. But what did these ancient people know about nettles that we don’t? Traditional practitioners of natural medicine seem to have intuitively known that nettles is an excellent source of iron, protein and other important minerals for healthy living.
Whether in teas or in tinctures, traditional practitioners of herbal medicine have used nettles to make the eyes brighter, the hair shinier, and the blood clean and potent. Nettles is also used to increase the strength and length of hair in beauty regimes. In fact, some herbalists swear by organic nettles ability to actually stimulate hair growth in balding men!¹
It’s also a well-known fact that drinking nettles can help improve the appearance of your skin, making it clearer and healthier. You can use nettles in a tea or tincture form, but it may also be used in the kitchen as an edible and tasty vegetable. You can cook with nettles just as you would any dark leafy green herb. With a 10 percent protein ratio, nettles are a wonderful additive to sauces, baked dishes or salads.
The History of Nettle Leaf
Nettle, or Urtica dioica, comes from the Latin root-word, "uro," meaning "I burn." This is most likely a direct reference to the curious stinging sensation that can accompany touching the plant. The Nettles plant has tiny little hairs on its leaves, and these hairs leave a stinging residue that affects human skin.
While today this plant can be found growing throughout the world – due to our newfound abilities to cultivate plants in controlled environments – it naturally grows in the more temperate regions. And although it grows perfectly well in the U.S., nettles is not native to North America, but was brought here, from England, by John Josselyn.
For hundreds of years, the root and leaves of this plant have been commonly used as a medicinal herb, a healthy vegetable for human consumption, as well as a tough material for making clothes. The ancient Greeks used the plant for a variety of everyday ailments such as arthritis, troublesome coughs, tuberculosis, and as a hair-growth tonic.