Nettle, medicinal and edible from rhizome to flowers. Learn to easily include it in your diet!

In the forest we avoid it so that it does not bite us, in the garden we usually consider it a weed.

But we can’t imagine Easter stuffing without it, and we reach for it even in case of various health problems.

Nettle is a unique plant with a number of medicinal effects.

Learn to include it in the menu in other ways than in the form of stuffing or tea.

What can nettle be used for?

We will tell you all this and much more in the following lines.

What is nettle?

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of the first plants that children learn to recognize during a walk in nature. One of the distinguishing features of nettles is that the entire plant is covered in stinging hairs, or trichomes. By the way, the Latin name of the nettle, urtica, was derived from the word uro, or to burn.

From a botanical point of view, it belongs to the family of nettle plants. In our territory, in addition to the double-housed nettle, we can also meet two other species, the nettle nettle and, exceptionally, the meadow nettle. They all have similar medicinal effects and uses.

In addition to medicine and pharmacy, they are also found in gastronomy, cosmetics, and the textile industry. They are used for the production of durable fabrics, ropes and fishing nets, and are also used as fodder for farm animals.

A view of a flowering nettle.

What does nettle contain?

Nettle contains a large number of diverse plant substances and compounds that together give it its medicinal effects. In one hundred grams of fresh nettles we find:

Calorie Proteins Fats Carbohydrates Fiber
42 kcal 2.71 g 0.11 g 7.49 g 6.9 g

In terms of vitamins, the plant is rich in vitamin A, K and some B vitamins. Young nettle leaves also contain a large amount of vitamin C.

Vitamin A Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B6 Vitamin K
2010 IU 0.008 mg 0.16 mg 0.388 mg 0.103 mg 499 µg

As far as minerals are concerned, nettle contains, for example, potassium, iron and magnesium.

Potassium Phosphorus Magnesium Manganese Calcium Zinc Iron
344 mg 71 mg 57 mg 0.779 mg 481 mg 0.34 mg 1.644 mg

What are nettles good for?

Nettle has been an important part of folk medicine for centuries, where it is used to treat or alleviate the unpleasant symptoms of a whole range of health problems. It can be used internally and externally. Why is it worth having nettle tea or soup every now and then?

  • Reduces inflammation – chronic inflammation can cause significant damage to our body, nettle contains a number of compounds that can reduce inflammation. Applying nettle cream or consuming nettle products relieves inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

  • Improves symptoms of enlarged prostate – studies confirm that nettle can help in the treatment of enlarged prostate. Specifically, it can prevent the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Stopping this conversion reduces the size of the prostate.

  • It helps with problems with the urinary system – nettle has a diuretic and anti-inflammatory effect, so it is used in the treatment of various inflammations of the urinary tract and bladder. It also helps prevent urinary and kidney stones and helps excrete excess water from the body.

  • Colds – due to its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, nettle can also help with colds and various respiratory problems such as bronchitis.

  • Relieves Allergy and Hay Fever – Evidence on the effectiveness of nettle for allergy relief varies, but there is evidence that nettle can disrupt the allergy process by suppressing the body’s production of histamine and associated inflammation.

  • Lowers blood pressure – Stinging nettle has traditionally been used to treat high blood pressure. It stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which acts as a vasodilator. Vasodilators relax the muscles of blood vessels, thereby helping them to widen. It also contains compounds that can act as calcium channel blockers, which relax the heart by reducing the force of contractions.

  • Helps control blood sugar levels – in a three-month study, taking 500 mg of nettle extract three times a day significantly reduced blood sugar levels compared to a placebo.

  • Reduces excessive bleeding – St. Nettle extract reduces excessive bleeding, not only after surgical procedures, but also in connection with hemorrhoids or menstruation.

  • It supports the proper functioning of the liver, spleen and gall bladder

  • It helps with healthy skin and hair – external use is recommended for various skin problems, such as acne or eczema, or for problems with dandruff.

  • It contains many antioxidants – it contains a number of substances that act as natural antioxidants. These are known to help protect cells from free radical damage.

Adverse effects of nettle

Eating dried or cooked nettle is generally safe. Side effects occur rarely, if ever. Stinging can cause a rash or allergic reaction in some people.

Pregnant women should avoid eating nettle because it can induce uterine contractions, which can increase the risk of miscarriage. If you are taking blood thinners, high blood pressure, diabetes or diuretics, it is advisable to consult your doctor before taking nettle or nettle supplements. Stinging nettle could interact with these medications.

Collecting nettles

Nettle is one of the plants from which we can use everything from the root to the flower. Most often, however, its cuttings, i.e. leaves and stem, are collected. It is generally recommended to be collected mainly in the spring months, approximately until mid-May.

Young plants are tastier, more delicate and contain more of some valuable substances and vitamins, for example vitamin C. We always try to collect nettles in a clean environment, i.e. not near roads, and we take care not to steam the nettles when transporting them home. It can be used fresh or very easily dried or frozen for later use.

A bowl of dried nettle leaves.

How to process nettle?

Freshly picked nettles must be lightly scalded before being eaten raw, for example when added to a salad, or crushed in gloves or rolled with a rolling pin to neutralize the stinging hairs. If you process the nettle with heat, scalding is not necessary. Blanching nettle leaves is very simple.

First, rinse the nettles lightly in cold water to remove dirt. Then put the salted water to boil in the pot. When the water starts to boil, drop the nettle leaves in for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then drain the nettle and rinse immediately in cold water.

Blanched nettle leaves.

Nettle tea

Nettle is very often consumed in the form of nettle tea. It can be prepared from fresh or dried leaves. In the case of fresh nettles, pour two tablespoons of fresh leaves into 250 milliliters of boiling water. Then let the tea steep for approximately 10-15 minutes, preferably under the lid.

For dried nettles, use one tablespoon of dried nettles for the same amount of water. Tea prepared from dried plants has a more pronounced color. It is recommended to drink nettle tea as soon as possible, as it becomes bitter over time. Most people recommend 2-3 cups a day for a maximum of three weeks. Nettle, like other herbs, is not suitable for long-term consumption.

A cup of nettle tea.

Nettle syrup

In addition to nettle tea, a syrup is also often prepared from nettles, which is then consumed by the spoonful or added to various drinks. Let fresh nettle leaves soak in boiled water for 24 hours. Then mix the nettles in the solution and strain. Boil sugar in water and mix the cooled mixture with nettle infusion. You can also add lemon juice. Store the syrup in a dark and cool place.

Nettle infusion

A nettle infusion is recommended for all kinds of skin problems, which can be prepared very simply from a handful of fresh nettles, which we let infuse overnight in half a liter of cold, boiled water. In a similar way, you can also prepare an infusion intended for washing hair.

Nettle in the kitchen

In addition to tea or syrup, you can make many tasty and healthy dishes from nettle. You can add it to a number of cold and hot dishes.

  • Fresh nettles are an important part of Easter stuffing. Do you know how to prepare the best stuffing ? Use as many different herbs as possible in it, in addition to nettles, also use chives, parsley, sage or oregano.

  • Simply put, it can also be said that as soon as you see some recipes with spinach , you can let your imagination run wild and replace the spinach with nettles, especially young ones.

  • From flour, eggs, fresh nettles and salt, you can very easily make a dough from which you can then make simple homemade pasta.

  • Nettles also go well with potatoes. Prepare a nettle sauce from them with the help of sour cream, stock and onion, which you can add to various new potato delicacies .

  • Nettle honey is produced by mixing honey with nettle juice obtained from young ground leaves.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)