At the mention of nettle, most of you will immediately think of weeds, some of a medicinal plant, and a very few of a vegetable. We tend not to think twice about that which is right in front of us, even if it’s worth a lot as is the case here. Some people believe that nettle (Urtica dioica) is the most useful and the easiest accessible leafy vegetable because it is widely distributed and packed with valuable nutrients. Versatile use of nettle in medicine was recognized even by ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. This is no wonder considering it has proven to be effective for treating anemia, digestion problems, rheumatism, kidney disease, skin diseases, lowering blood glucose levels, improving circulation, purifying blood and in general, works miracles on the entire immune system.
Furthermore, it helps restore balance in the body and on top of all some believe it has an extraordinary power to transform negative radiation into positive which is why we often find it near transmission wires. Since it draws its energy from the environment, try to find it in nature, far away from busy roads or other polluted areas since this nettle may contain toxic lead.
Did you also know that if your aim is to heal your garden, all you need to do is simply plant a small bed of nettles? And by regular pre-flower pruning and controlling young sprouts, you don’t have to worry that it’ll take over your entire garden.
Nettle contains large amounts of calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, manganese, boron, provitamin A, vitamin B, C and K and during spring young nettle leaves contain more vitamin C than an orange or a lemon. Other than abundance of minerals and vitamins, this plant is rich in flavonoids, chlorophylle, enzyme, tannins, lecithin, phytosterols, mucus, wax and other beneficial substances. However, not everything related to nettle is so glamorous, in fact, nettle can be harmful because it contains histamine and many acids like formic acid present in nettle stings. For this reason, it is important to note that some people may have an allergic reaction to histamine – though this happens very rarely. Generally speaking, nettle is an excellent remedy for the body, but it also strengthens the nervous system and helps relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
As previously mentioned, (stinging) nettle should be harvested only in the clean, unpolluted areas and if you plan to eat it, pick only young leaves during spring, though regular pruning will ensure you have enough young leaves throughout the entire year.
Surprisingly, numerous dishes can be prepared from stinging nettle including soups, desserts and beverages. Moreover, it is an indisputable star in cosmetics, especially when it comes to skin, hair and nail care.
Regular stinging nettle tea
Take 5 grams of dried stinging nettle and cover with 250 ml of boiling water, leave covered for 5 minutes to infuse, strain out the leaves and drink 3 times a day. There is another way to prepare this tea – you can take one tablespoon of dried nettle leaves, leave it for an hour to infuse, strain and drink during a day.
- corn flour: 3 tablespoons
- milk: 2 dl
- red onion: 2 pieces
- nettle: half a kilogram of young leaves
- water: in which the onion was cooked
- sour cream
- parsley leaf
Blanch nettle leaves in boiling water, strain and finely chop the nettle leaves or mix with some water in which you’ve blanched it. Quarter the onions and cook it in half-liter of water where you’ve added a pinch of salt. Leave it to cool down and mix with some cooking water. Fry the corn flour on a dry pan, wait until it releases a nice smell and cover with cold milk and the stir until it becomes smooth. Add chopped nettle and onions to the pan and if you want, add some more cooking water, depending on how thick you want this mixture to become. Add some salt and leave it to cook for a short time.
Sprinkle some finely chopped parsley before serving. The soup should be offered with rye bread and sour cream or tofu cream which needs to be added directly in the plate.
Nettle juice facial mask
This is a perfect mask for those of you who suffer from acne. First, take a stem of a young nettle and leave it to soak in water for a day. Following that, chop it and put it in a blender to make a juice.
Then mix 2 tablespoons of tiny oat flakes with an equal amount of low-fat milk and nettle juice in order to get a pasta-like consistency which you’ll then apply to your face. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse with cold water.
As you can see, there are many ways to use nettle, anything from dishes, tinctures, oils to juices, teas etc. All in all, this a marvelous plant, both as a source of food and a medicine. Did you know that in Germanic mythology nettle was a symbol of a god associated with thunder – the famous Thor or Donar? And according to Croatian folk belief, a thunder is no stranger to nettle in that it’ll never strike into it. Somehow nettle managed to find a way to defend itself, unlike beautiful lilies and daffodils. There’s even a saying to back this up – “lighting won’t strike into stinging nettle”.
Translation: G. Dujmović