Whenever I talk to people about the benefits of stinging nettles, I usually receive some strange looks.
I’ve actually had people tell me that they were warned to stay away from stinging nettles because they were poisonous. What a shame that these plants are so maligned.
Now I don’t necessarily recommend growing them in your yard or near your house (although I do keep a patch in my herb garden), but finding a place you can wildcraft the leaves, roots and seeds is a great idea!
Nettles, aka Urtica dioica, like to grow where there’s plenty of sunshine, moisture and high nitrogenous soil. The best patch we have on our homestead is situated between two of our pastures at the base of a drain field, where there are no trees to block the sun. That area stays a little moist even into August when everything else is fairly dry.
Want to experiment with nettles as food?
Here are a few tasty recipes to try!
You can also try juicing the young leaves and freezing them in cubes to add to smoothies, soups or steeped as a nourishing tea or nourishing herbal infusion.
The leaves are highly nutritious, containing vitamins and many essential minerals. Nettle is used throughout the herbal world to nourish and balance the body. It can be quite drying, however, so if you’re going to drink it often, consider balancing it with moistening herbs or foods such as marshmallow root, oatmeal, chia seeds and so on.
Nettle seeds are useful as a type of adrenal/kidney nourisher. They support a healthy stress response and help balance the adrenals. The roots are known to help in cases of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
Don’t have nettle growing near you and would like to try your hand at cultivating it on your property?
And if you’re feeling particularly brave, grab a long stem of nettles and whip it on any areas of inflammation or pain, especially in cases of arthritis. I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve heard stories from individuals who have and they say it worked better than their pain medications – and the relief lasted about 2-4 days.
Harvest the leaves before they go to seed, but the very young leaves are best for eating. I do recommend wearing gloves while wildcrafting or working with it in the kitchen.