Nettle, the weed everyone uproots when found it in the garden, had been classified before 2500 years from Hippocrates as “panacea.” He had added it in the list of plants that can be used for all diseases. In special books based on herbs and their benefits, Hippocrates said that he found 60 different natural remedies for various diseases based on that plant, while Galen recommended it as a diuretic and laxative.
Origin of nettle
European in origin, nettle belongs to the genus Urtica, of the family Urticaceae. The name derives from the Latin meaning essential uro which means burning, precisely because of the stinging caused when contacted with skin. There are more than 500 species worldwide, but particularly in Greece it flourishes because of the climate and flora of our country. It grows in many other countries such as the United States and Canada.
History of nettle
In Denmark, a tissue of nettle was found in a tomb dating from the Bronze Age, while it seems that in the Neolithic period it has been used to create strings. In Rome and later in Scotland was used in the textile industry for the making of most durable fabrics. Countries of Europe and America used the fibers of nettle for making fishing nets. During the First World War Germany and Austria used the fibers of nettle as a substitute for cotton for their military uniforms. Indians used nettle for treating acne, diarrhea and infections of the urinary tract.
Healing properties of nettle
Nettle is rich in minerals, calcium, copper, chlorine, potassium, silicon, sodium and iron. The species found in our country is considered excellent and works exceptionally as an ally against many diseases. It has astringent, diuretic and stimulating properties, cleanses the body of toxins, controls bleeding, increases hemoglobin, controls red blood cells and blood coagulants and as beverage can lower blood pressure and blood sugar.
- it is rich in vitamins A, C, E, K, thiamin, riboflavin, and folic acid
- It is also rich in good fatty acids
- gives calcium in the body
- contains a powerful group of antioxidants, flavonoids
- contains vegetable iron
- contains many trace elements such as potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, in high enough concentrations
- it also contains many phytochemicals such as lycopene, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, malic acid, acetic acid and betaine, substances with strong antioxidant activity towards the creation of free radicals.
- the absence of oxalic acid and oxalates in this plant, help absorb even greater amount of iron by the body, something that does not happen with all vegetables containing vegetable iron
- in addition, nettle is rich in vitamin C, which helps even more to the total absorption of iron from the body
- the content of secretin stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin helping to maintain euglycemia in diabetics
- histamine contained in nettles offers strong anti-inflammatory activity in all preparations and poultices of this plant, sufficient to alleviate symptoms of inflammation
Uses of nettle
All parts of the plant may be used, as appropriate. The leaves, stems and root can be used as an infusion for preparing tea, tincture or poultices. But it can also be eaten as a vegetable in many recipes in our kitchen. In the next post I will have you an easy and tasty recipe that you all can make.
Internally, nettle is used to treat high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, bladder infections, bronchitis, bursitis, gingivitis, gout, urticaria, laryngitis , multiple sclerosis, thyroid, hemorrhoids, skin diseases, sciatica, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, of hemorrhoids, ulcers, inflammatory bowel protector, tendinitis, of kidney stones , pancreatic disease, liver, intestines and gall bladder.
Externally it is one of the best herbs for treating oily hair and dandruff.
In the market nettle can be found fresh or dried (root, leaves).
WARNING: fresh nettles should always be gripped with gloves, due to the centers that their leaves have. Never use fresh nettle directly on your body. Once scalded in boiling water, it no longer stings.
If you touch it and causes a rash or itching, to relieve, scrub your skin hard with some vinegar, or with an onion cut in half, or with leaves of rosemary, or finally, mallow which always grows next to nettles.
Nettle and side effects
There are many who argue that the nettle does not cause side effects. Many experts, however, advise that nettle should not be used by pregnant women, because it is likely to cause uterine contractions and miscarriage. Breast-feeding mothers should also avoid it.
Additionally, diabetics should be very careful to use and thoroughly measure the value of their blood sugar, because nettle (aboveground parts of) reduces blood glucose levels.
The same applies to hypotensive, since nettle lowers blood pressure and for kidney patients because it increases urination.
Nettle has, like aspirin anticoagulant properties and should be consumed with caution by people with similar diseases.
Note: The ideas and information presented in this blog are for informational purposes only and in no case can replace the advice of a specialist in nutrition and health. Before starting any diet or exercise or before adding a special food in your daily intake, you should contact a specialist doctor or dietitian; especially if you suffer from a serious illness.