Stinging Nettles

(Urtica dioica)

Other Names:


Urticaceae – Nettle family

Growth Type:
Perennial herbaceous

2 - 4 ft in height

The leaves are positioned opposite, and are heart-shaped. The leaves have a rough papery texture. They contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals including: A, B complex, C, E, K1, and folic acid.

The stout, ribbed, hollow stems grow 2' - 4' tall and are covered with stinging hairs, which, when touched break, and release a formic acid which in turn produces a stinging pain.

The fibrous root contains various anti-inflammatory compounds. Chief among these are ceramides, coumarin, hydroxy fatty acids, lignans, monoterpenes, triterpenes and pentacyclic triterpenes, phytosterols, and polysaccharides and lectins, and tannins.

Flower Season:
late spring or early summer

Flower Appearance:
Many small greenish flowers are born on clusters at the tops of the plant.

Not observed

Miscellaneous characteristics:
This much maligned plant is one of the most beneficial food sources you will ever be lucky enough to find. Stinging Nettles have both nutritional and medicinal value. Eating this plant gives you more bang for your buck.

Be careful when gathering Stinging Nettles. As the name implies, when the small hairs along the stems are broke, they release formic acid, which causes skin irritation ranging from mild to intense.

Rich soil, disturbed areas, moist woodlands, thickets, along rivers, and along partially shaded trails.

Parts Used:
Young leaves and shoots as food source. All aerial parts and roots are used medicinally.

Wild Food Uses:
Use young nettle leaves, sprouts, and tender upper stems as a cooked vegetable. While Nettles have been used for millennia as a food source, they have just a long a history as a medicinal plant. As a matter of fact, Nettles have been used to reverse the effects of Anemia.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:
A spring tonic made from nettles has been used to treat winter anemia for centuries. I have specifically used the plant as a treatment for those suffering from seasonal allergies. Leaf tea has traditionally been used as a blood purifier, blood builder, diuretic, astringent, for gout, glandular diseases, rheumatism, poor circulation, enlarged spleen, mucus discharges of the lungs, internal bleeding, diarrhea, and dysentery. It's effect involves the action of white blood cells, aiding coagulation and formation of hemoglobin in red blood corpuscles. Nettles also work to reverse anemia, even that caused by feminine monthly cycles. Recently Germans have begun using the roots in a treatment for Prostate Cancer. Russians are adding the leaves to vodka to treat inflammation of the gallbladder, and hepatitis. There is evidence that even in the time of Jesus, Nettles were used as a treatment for arthritis. The plant tops were pinched off, and used to "whip" the afflicted area. The resulting stinging was said to promote blood flow, which in turn alleviated the inflammation. Even today, studies have shown that periodic stings from nettles helps relieve arthritis.

Medicinal Actions:
Alterative, Antiarthritic, Anticatarrhal, Anti-Inflammatory, Antiseptic, Antirheumatic, Astringent, Diuretic, Immunostimulant, Pectoral, Tonic

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