Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) also known as common nettle, burn nettle, stinging nettle, stinger, or nettle leaf is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant from the family of family Urticaceae. The plant bears pointed leaves with white to yellow-coloured flowers. Nettle has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and is quite popular in western herbal medicine too. Originally from the colder regions of Europe and Asia, this herbaceous shrub grows all over the world and can survive in mild to temperate climates, in shady habitats, by rivers or streams, and on roadsides. The scientific name of nettle Urtica dioica, comes from the Latin word ‘Uro’, which means to burn because its leaves cause a burning sensation upon contact. The entire shrub is covered with tiny stiff hair that is very painful to the touch as these structures contain irritating chemicals, which are released when you touch the plant, hence the plant bagged its name stinging nettle.
Properties Of Stinging Nettle
Nettles contain a significant number of biologically active compounds. The leaves are rich sources of terpenoids, carotenoids, and fatty acids, various amino acids, chlorophyll, vitamins, tannins, carbohydrates, sterols, polysaccharides and minerals. Extracts from stem of nettles are rich sources of polyphenols, while the roots contain oleanolic acid, sterols, and sterol glycosides.
Nutrition And Health Benefits Of Nettle
Nettle leaves and roots provide a wide variety of nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as several B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, all amino acids, polyphenols, and carotenoids. The following health benefits can be derived from nettle leaves and extracts:
- Nettle leaf is used to treat problems during the early stages of an enlarged prostate and for urinary tract infections.
- Nettle creams are used for treating joint pains, sprains, and strains.
- Very beneficial in alleviating symptoms of arthritis, nettle ointments are used to ease osteoarthritis pain.
- Nettle extract has been found to reduce excessive bleeding, especially after surgery, and to stop nasal bleeding or epistaxis.
- Nettle’s antioxidant properties protect the liver against damage caused by toxins.
- Nettle leaves have been used in various tonics for the purpose of purifying the blood.
- A natural diuretic, nettle extracts help your body shed excess salt and water.
Easy And Nutritious Recipes From Stinging Nettle
Are you wondering can a plant that cause irritation be consumed? The answer is yes! Interestingly, this stingy plant has many wellness benefits and is very much edible once dried or cooked. The dried leaves can be steeped to make herbal concoctions and gravies, while stem, and roots can be cooked and added to soups, stews, and curries.
Want to know how? Check out these super easy, delicious and nutrition-filled recipes of nettle leaves.
Nettle Potato Gravy
750 grams cut potatoes
500 grams fresh chopped nettle leaves
6 garlic cloves
1 piece ginger
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder or dried turmeric
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and add the potatoes and turmeric
Stir and cook until potatoes are golden and keep aside
Heat oil in another pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds
Add onions, ginger and garlic and cook for a minute
Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, fenugreek seeds, tomatoes, and salt
Cook until a thick curry is formed
At this stage, stir in cooked potatoes and stir well
Add nettle and little water, cover with a lid and cook until leaves have wilted down
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot
Nettle leaves one of the ingredients in this recipe are loaded with vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and essential amino acids that help your body function properly. Potatoes have ample fibre and carbohydrates that keep you energised.
Nettle Herbal Tonic
This stinging nettle infusion is made by steeping dried nettles in hot water for several hours. After steeping, the infusion is ready for consumption.
1 bunch of dried nettle leaves
1 tsp honey
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup water
Bring water to a boil in a teapot
Put dried nettle leaves into another glass jar
Pour hot water over the nettle leaves
Let it steep for some hours
Add honey and cinnamon whenever you are ready to consume it
Rich in iron content, nettle helps people who are prone to anaemia. They are a good source of many micronutrients and aid in relieving joint pains and menstrual cramps. Honey is a good source of antioxidants that fights free radicals. You can have the infusion safely two to three times daily.