Herbal Ally: Nettle Leaf (Urtica diocia)
When I officially started on my herbal journey, one of the first plants I was introduced to and still have a proclivity for is Urtica dioica also known as Stinging Nettle Leaf. This nutritive powerhouse is a detoxifying, pain relieving diuretic that also works as an antihistamine and breast milk producer. It’s pure magick!
A member of the mint family, it’s known for its stinging hairs that will surprise you with a formic acid bite, causing inflammation and itching. Be sure to wear gloves when handling this protective plant! Once Nettle is dried, the formic acid subsides, making it easier to work with the herbal ally. Nettle Leaf has been an herbal staple for centuries. Ancient Egyptians used nettle leaf as an analgesic while the Romans would rub the leaf on themselves to stimulate heat and keep warm.
As an herbalist who wants to spread the word about holistic medicine to you and underserved communities, I thought it befitting to start a new series on the blog called Herbal Ally. Because knowledge is power and I believe it takes time to develop a genuine relationship with each plant, each month I’ll pick a plant, give you the entire run down and share ways that you can incorporate our herbal ally into your daily routine or ritual.
And we’re starting with... you guessed it... NETTLE! I hope this inspires you to look into Nettle a little bit more. It’s an herbaceous, fun herb to work with and deserves all the praise!
Nettle as a Nutritive Powerhouse
Nettle Leaf is insanely packed with vitamins and minerals to help promote and maintain optimal health.
Vitamins: Vitamins A, C and K, as well as a few B vitamins
Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Sodium
Fats: Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Stearic acid and Oleic Acid
Amino acids: All of the essential amino acids
Polyphenols: Kaempferol, Quercetin, Caffeic Acid, Coumarins and other Flavonoids
Pigments: Beta-carotene, Lutein, Luteoxanthin and other Carotenoids
Most of these nutrients have secondary properties and act as antioxidants inside your body, fighting off free radicals. Free radical damage has been linked to aging and cancer, among other things. If you or a loved have a vitamin deficiency, have issues absorbing nutrients or have unbearable allergies, Nettle is an herb you want in your life at all times. The support from this herbal ally goes directly effects your nervous and immune system, as well as your bone stability and skin health.
Nettle to Fight oxidative Stress
The Journal of Food Composition and Analysis conducted a study in 2003 that suggested Nettle, with its antifungal and antibacterial properties, was also rich in carotenoids and high in vitamin C, making it more than effective for the immune system, freeing your body of oxidative stress.
Nettle for Pregnancy & Fertility
As soon as Mom-to-be is in her second trimester, Nettle leaf can be used to support them and their growing fetus. With all the vitamins and minerals contained in Nettle, it’s a wonderful tea to keep Momma bear healthy and keep Baby Bear thriving in the womb until their journey earth-side.
Nettle also helps to tone and nourish the uterus while strengthening the adrenal glands and kidneys, giving support to women experiencing fertility issues. If you’re looking to add support in your journey, drinking at least 2-3 cups a day during conception can really help prepare your body for baby.
*This tea is also traditionally used as a galactagogue, stimulating milk supply for breastfeeding mommas.
Nettle for Allergies
Suffer from hay fever and seasonal allergies? As someone who suffers from a rare skin allergy and hives, Nettle has saved my life, time and time again. Taking my Nettle Tincture every day for 6-8 weeks before and during allergy season can help build up your immune system and fight off those pesky allergies. A study published by Planta Medica in 1990 reported close to 60% of participants stating Nettle was effective in remediating their allergies.
The benefits of nettle leaf are endless! It’s definitely an herb worth adding to your collection.