Urtica dioica L., of the Urticaceae family, is commonly known as a stinging nettle or burn nettle. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.) has a long history of usage since the ancient’s time. Currently, this leaf has received attention as a source of fiber and alternative medicine. In many cultures, nettle is also eaten as a leafy vegetable. People use nettle for a wide variety of ailments, both in traditional and modern medicine. The nettle plant is used for bladder and kidney disorders, various allergies, anemia, internal bleeding, osteoarthritis, and musculoskeletal aches. In this post, I will share with you 5 things you need to know about ingredients, traditional usages, the dose and how to use nettle at home. As the information about nettle is enormous I will discuss more in coming post. The post will discuss the health benefits with clinical evidence support and side effects of nettle. Now let’s look at some questions you might have about nettle.
1. What are key ingredients in Nettle?
The nettle’s key components are vitamin A, calcium, carotene, beta-sitosterol, quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol. Both raw and cooked nettle have the rich sources of mineral, vitamins, minerals and protein. Using 100 gram of cooked or blanched nettle supplies you 100% of Vitamin A (including vitamin A as β-carotene), 40% of Calcium, 10% of Iron, and 20% of dietary fiber.
Besides, this leaf is rich in fatty acid, carotenoid, and Omega-3. Researchers find fatty acid and carotenoid content in leaf, stem, root, and seed of nettle. The amount of amino acid in nettle is higher than most other leafy vegetables. The Amino acid in nettle is higher than almond (dry), common bean and chicken. Nettle leaves are rich in α-linolenic acid, the predominant fatty acid, and seeds are richer in linoleic acid. The Omega-3 fatty in nettle is the same with treated frozen spinach. The total carbohydrate in fresh and cooked nettle (4.2%–16.5%) is lower than spinach (66.6%–78.9%).
Nettle leaf contains nine carotenoids. This leaf has high levels of lutein, lutein isomers, β-carotene and β-carotene isomers. Nettle leaf at maturity stages also contains Neoxanthin, violaxanthin, and lycopene.
Modern science has found many of the key elements in the stinging nettle that make it useful as a medicine. Nettle plant has approximately fifty active chemical compounds. These are including simple phenols, triterpene acids, lignans, hydroxyl fatty acids. Most of the medicinal uses of nettle come from chemicals located in the stinging hairs of the plant and the root.
2. What are the benefits of nettle?
Mineral and nutrient-rich food: You can use nettle as a fresh vegetable in soups, pizza or cakes. Nettle is easy growing and it can be mineral-rich diets for poor and undernourished populations.
Healthy Drink: Making fresh or dry nettle tea for tonic water and healthy drinks. Nettle tea can work as spring tonic water as the leaf contains the high amount of antioxidant. Nettle tea is used for disorders of the kidneys, urinary tract, and gastrointestinal tract. The nettle tea also can support your skin, cardiovascular system, hemorrhage, flu, rheumatism, and gout.
Medical application: Currently researchers have focused on using nettle as the alternative medicine and fiber. In 1980’s, clinical trials have confirmed the effectiveness of nettle root and saw palmetto fruit extracts to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Dried nettle leaf preparations are also known to reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis or asthma.
Technology for granulating lipophilic leaf extracts for medicine has been developed. As many valuable nettle’s chemicals are located in the stinging hairs of the plant. Nettle leaf extract contains active compounds that reduce TNF-α and other inflammatory cytokines.
Textile fiber: scientists in Italy have confirmed the potential of using nettle as a sustainable source of textile fiber.
3. How to harvest and store the nettle for winter time?
The best time for you to pick up nettle shoots is before flowering. You can use young nettle shoots as a potherb or spinach alternative. The nettle leaves on stems are tender enough to eat when the nettle grow up to 25 cm from the growing point. But the stems will become woody about 4 cm away from the growing point (29 cm). You will need to separate the tender tip (approx. 4 cm and leaves) from the woody stem before cooking.
First, you can boil the leave in water to remove the stinging chemicals for 7-10 minutes. Nettle has an intense grass-like taste and you can add it to soups and pies as in Finland. You can also combine it with others greens (spinach, sorrel, onions, and spices). In Greece, people will fry nettles, eggs with butter or fried it with olive oil and garlic.
Freeze the nettle you need to boil them in water, pack and store them in the freezer to keep them fresh.
If you want to dry nettle for winter time, try to collect the nettle roots. Nettle roots grow on the surface of the land not so deep but it grows in a group and around under the stem. Use plastic gloves to collect nettle and its roots; it will help you from the stinging hairs. After harvesting, you can dry them in a cool place away from the sun and store them in tight jars for winter time.
You can also use nettle water as a shampoo to control dandruff and make hair glossier.
4. How to brew fresh & dried nettle leaf tea?
You can boil nettle leaf as a green leaf and also can use the boiling water as a tonic herbal tea.The nettle tea is tasty, fresh and healthy. You can add some lemon juice and honey in your nettle leaf tea. The lemon will enhance absorption of minerals.
As a research in the International Journal of Food Science in 2013, the best time to boil the nettle is between 7-9 minutes. In the research, scientists found that after different acid and amino acid in nettle leaves will reach a peak at 6.7-10 minutes. After 11 minutes of cooking, all amino acid in nettle goes to 0. I did experiments by cooking nettle for 2 minutes, 5 minutes, and 12 minutes. After 2 minutes nettle looked lively, scary with full of hairs. With 5 minutes the nettle tea still drinkable, but there were small hairs in the water. These hairs made a bit itchy in my lips and mouth when you drink it. At 12 minutes the water is thicker than normal water with full of medical or drug smell. So that I will cook my nettle around 7 minutes next time to keep the antioxidant and amino acid in the tea.
5. What are dosages for nettle?
There is no formal dosage for nettle, and here is the nettles dosages information I collected. In Germany Commission E people recommend 4-6 g/day cut root for symptoms of BPH, doses up to 18 g/day. In some researches people use the daily dosages are 360 mg aqueous extract, 460 mg dried extract, and 600 mg freeze-dried nettle. Here are some more detail dosages
DOSAGES FOR THE NETTLE LEAF
- In one research, people used 50 g stewed nettle leaf daily for rheumatic conditions.
- Dry extract: 0.6-2.1 g/day in divided doses
- Liquid extracts (1:2): 2-6 mL/day.
- People also use 1 tablespoon nettle juice (15 mL) in 4-6 oz water three times daily.
- Tincture of the leaf or root with a dose of 1/2-1 tsp (2-5 mL) three times daily, or as part of a formula with other herbs.
DOSAGES FOR NETTLE’S ROOT
- German Commission E recommend 4-6 g/day cut root for symptoms of BPH. Some research uses doses up to 18 g/day for BPH.
I use 50 grams of fresh nettle for one person in cooking and brew 2-4 gram of dried nettle leaf and root for 1 cups of tea. If you use the nettle leaf extract or other extracted products, ask your doctors for advice before using it.
Nettle has been used as a food for many thousand years. Fresh and processed nettle have high-protein, low-calorie source of essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. The fresh nettle has formic acid, mucilage, mineral salts, ammonia, carbonic acid and water. The nettle works as high nutrient and vitamin foods. But nowadays scientists focus more on medical and fiber applications. I like the fresh taste of nettle and its huge health benefits. But when using this leaf you should pay attention to the dosages. Ask your doctors for advice before using this leave. I will discuss more the health benefits and side effects of nettle in my coming post. I hope you are not getting bored with this long and too much information post. Let’s me know what do you think about the nettle leaf. See you soon in my next post about health benefits and side effects of nettle leaf.
If you like to read more about nettle here are quite interesting links more about it: