Nettle – A Delicious Medicinal Herb

There are many traditional areas of application for the stinging nettle. However, it has been scientifically proven that nettle can relieve arthrosis, arthritis, and prostate and bladder problems and have a positive effect on inflammatory bowel diseases. The seeds of the stinging nettle can be used as a vitality tonic and against hair loss, and in the form of the so-called stinging nettle manure, the plant replaces artificial fertilizers and pesticides. The stinging nettle is also ideal as a food – not only because of its abundance of vital substances but also because of its fantastic taste.

The stinging nettle: medicinal and foodstuffs in one plant

The stinging nettle has been used in many areas of life since time immemorial. In medicine, where it is one of the oldest medicinal herbs known to mankind, in vegetable cultivation, where the so-called nettle manure is used to fertilize vegetables with great success, in the kitchen, where it has saved people from starvation in lean times, and even in the textile industry, where nettle cloth was once made from the fibrous stalks.

With all this versatility, it is surprising that so many people fight nettle so staunchly. They are tackled with hoes, spades, plows, and chemicals – mostly without success, as their sprawling network of roots allows new plants to grow again and again. So it would be much more intelligent if you simply used the incomparable gift of nature for your own health.

Medicinal plant nettle

The stinging nettle is a medicinal plant for which at least as many areas of application are known as, for example, the famous chamomile, the pretty marigold, or the bitter dandelion. In folk medicine, nettle is recommended for detoxification and purification as part of spring cures and diets, as well as for tiredness and exhaustion.

The latter is often the result of iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia. Iron deficiency, however, can easily be remedied by the iron-rich stinging nettle. Depending on where it is grown, it provides two to four times as much iron as a beef steak and up to three times as much iron as spinach.

The nettle is also said to have a positive effect on the liver and bile, which is why Paracelsus already prescribed the inconspicuous plant in the form of nettle juice for jaundice (hepatitis). A medicinal plant that cares for the liver and bile can of course also optimize digestion and help eliminate existing digestive problems.

Even the pancreas – it is said – reacts to the nettle, which is said to be reflected in a balanced blood sugar level. Nettle tea as a facial tonic also alleviates allergies that manifest themselves through the skin and also improves the complexion of pimples, eczema, and acne.

Nettle in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases

The stinging nettle is also part of a therapy concept that 16 doctors (for naturopathic treatments) have developed for the holistic treatment of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. This therapy concept is based on three pillars:

  • Protection of the intestinal mucosa and regulation of stool with the help of psyllium
  • Firming the stool and lowering the stool frequency with the help of herbs rich in tannin, e.g. B. tormentil, witch hazel (witch hazel), and dried blueberries
  • Anti-inflammatory with special anti-inflammatory oils (e.g. evening primrose or borage seed oil) and anti-inflammatory herbal preparations – and this is exactly where nettle comes into play (or devil’s claw root, licorice or frankincense)

In addition, teas made from calming, antispasmodic, and flatulent herbs can be drunk, such as e.g. B. chamomile, lemon balm, cumin, and cinnamon.

Nettle for arthritis

Due to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, the stinging nettle can also be used very effectively in the therapy of both arthrosis and its acute form, rheumatoid arthritis.

A study by the Universities of Frankfurt and Munich found that the daily consumption of 50 grams of a vegetable made from steamed stinging nettles could reduce the daily drug dose (Diclofenac) from 200 mg to 50 mg. Despite the low dose, the patients who ate nettle butter improved the rheumatism-specific blood values ​​as well as pain, restricted mobility, and stiffness by 70 percent and thus just as much as those patients who did not eat nettles and took the usual dose of diclofenac (200 mg ) stayed.

Stinging nettles, therefore, ensure fewer medications and therefore fewer side effects. At the same time, stinging nettles naturally provide vital substances and antioxidants, which probably no medicine can claim.

Nettle in urinary tract infections

The so-called aquatics are used for diseases of the urinary tract and prostate. These are medicinal plants that are prescribed for flushing the urinary tract and can thus flush out pathogenic germs.

The stinging nettle is such an aquaretic. Their high potassium content not only ensures alkaline but also diluted urine. This increases urinary excretion, which in turn leads to a shorter residence time of the urine (and thus also to a shorter residence time of the bacteria in the body).

Nettle tea is, therefore – together with a plentiful supply of water (!) – the drug of choice for cystitis and irritable bladder.

Nettle to prevent bladder and kidney stones

At the same time, aquatics such as stinging nettle prevent bladder and kidney stones, as stone-forming mineral salts cannot crystallize in alkaline and diluted urine.

Nettle for the prostate

The stinging nettle root is also THE phytotherapeutic agent for prostate diseases such as e.g. B. benign prostatic hyperplasia BPH (benign prostate enlargement). A six-month, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study with 558 BPH participants showed that 81 percent of the patients in the nettle group reported a significant improvement in their symptoms. In the placebo group, on the other hand, only 16 percent were.

In the case of prostate problems, there is the so-called IPSS (International Prostate Symptom Score), which is used to classify the intensity of the symptoms. Seven symptoms are assumed (weak urine stream, nighttime dribbling, nocturnal urge to urinate, the feeling of residual urine, etc.) and each symptom is given between zero and five points.

If a patient scores fewer than 8 points, then one speaks of BPH with mild symptoms. 8 to 19 points indicate moderate symptoms and 20 to a maximum of 35 indicate severe symptoms. (Usually, treatment is only started from about 7 points.)

In the course of said study, the IPSS in the stinging nettle group fell from 19.8 to 11.8. In the placebo group, the IPSS fell by only 1.5 points. This means that nettle alone was able to improve symptoms to the point where patients were almost well enough not to need any treatment at all.

In another study (2005, Engelmann et al.), the participants took two capsules each day, each containing 120 mg nettle root extract and 160 mg saw palmetto extract, for six months. Her once-existing urinary tract problems as a result of benign prostate enlargement noticeably decreased.

The researchers, therefore, wrote in their conclusion in the World Journal of Urology:

Patients taking the nettle/saw palmetto supplement showed significant improvement in their symptoms compared to the placebo group. There were no side effects. Tolerability was excellent. In the case of urinary tract problems as a result of benign prostate enlargement, the combination of stinging nettle root and saw palmetto can therefore be seen as beneficial – not only in the case of moderate but also in the case of already pronounced prostate problems.

Nettle strengthens the immune system better than Echinacea

Echinacea purpurea, the coneflower is known for its stimulating effect on the immune system. For this reason, pharmacies have numerous ready-to-use medicinal products made from coneflowers ready for people who are susceptible to infections.

In reality, however, according to one study (albeit with mice), stinging nettle has a much more powerful effect on the immune system than coneflowers – in a way that boosted both antibody production and phagocyte activity.

Nettle lowers blood pressure

In traditional Moroccan medicine, nettle is prescribed for high blood pressure. Scientists then checked the mechanism of action of the stinging nettle on the blood vessels and actually found a clear antihypertensive effect. The nettle apparently has a relaxing effect on the blood vessels. The nettle prevents excessive blood clotting and thus helps to “thin” the blood.

Nettle seeds against infertility and impotence

While the leaves and roots of the stinging nettle shine with highly concentrated healing and vital powers, the stinging nettle SEEDS are able to top this wealth of micronutrients. For this reason, they were diligently collected in ancient times and eaten as a tonic in phases of exhaustion. They strengthen – experience has shown – in an intensity that led to a medieval ban on eating nettle seeds for monks – so as not to endanger their vows of chastity.

The seeds of the stinging nettle contain hormone-like substances and vitamins that are known to prevent or remedy poor performance of the genital organs. However, the tiny nettle seeds not only improve libido, potency, and infertility (semen production), but also the milk production of breastfeeding mothers.

Nettle seeds for hair loss

Horse dealers are said to have fed their horse’s nettle seeds in the past so that they could be sold better. After a short time, the animals not only got a thick, shiny coat but also gained enormously in temperament, so that they easily achieved the desired prices.

Some people then thought that what works on horses should also have an effect on humans. And indeed, nettle seeds are traditionally used against hair loss or reduced hair growth due to their unique range of micronutrients. You sprinkle the small seeds in muesli, soups, and salads, or take one to two tablespoons of them daily.

Nettle seeds are therefore one of the most natural, holistic, and at the same time most powerful dietary supplements on earth. Use it!

The stinging nettle – for gourmets

Since the stinging nettle not only has healing powers but also nutrients and vital substances in combination with a creamy, mild taste, it can be perfectly transformed into delicious dishes. In addition to iron (as mentioned above), it is also extremely rich in calcium (six times as much as cow’s milk).

The nettle also provides seven times as much vitamin C as oranges and half the amount of carotene in carrots. Since it even provides up to 9 percent protein, it is a vegetable that is very suitable as a staple food. In times of war, it, therefore, contributed immensely to the survival of the population. Unfortunately, nettle dishes were given the ungrateful name “poor people’s food” for this reason.

Nettle in three-star restaurants

Today, however, the situation has changed. Anyone who uses stinging nettles in their kitchen not only shows that they have nutritional knowledge and appreciate their health, but also that they are lovers of the highest culinary delights.

Top chefs in three-star restaurants almost routinely serve their guest’s nettle specialties such as nettle tart, nettle dumplings, fried nettles, nettle risotto, nettle cake, nettle spaetzle, nettle soup, etc. However, it doesn’t have to be that unusual. The nettle leaves can also be simply steamed in a little water (just like spinach) for a few minutes, seasoned to taste, and served as a vegetable.

By the way, nobody has to be afraid of the stinging hairs of the nettle when eating. Gloves should be worn for harvesting, as even a light touch can break the stinging hairs and then release their burning substances.

However, as soon as the nettle is processed, such as in juice, soups, smoothies, spinach-like dishes, casseroles, etc., the burning effect of the stinging hairs disappears. It can also be eaten raw in a salad. Even the dressing leads to the deactivation of the stinging hairs. To be on the safe side, the plant can be wrapped in a cloth and rolled over a few times with a rolling pin before processing it into salads.

Nettle manure for garden and agriculture

Jack of all trades Nettle is not only medicinal and food, but also an almost indispensable aid in organic gardening. The legendary nettle liquid manure has been brewed from nettles for many centuries.

Nettle manure can be made by anyone without much effort. To do this, nettles are poured with water, placed in a warm place, and stirred daily. The nettles begin to ferment and release their valuable ingredients into the water. The resulting broth is sieved and can now be used as a natural nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer, but also as a plant protection agent against insects.

Healthy and strong plants, rich, tasty harvests, and vegetables without chemical residues are the pleasing result of the consistent use of nettle manure.

France in the Nettle War

Nettle manure was banned in France. At the end of 2005, a law was passed there (Loi d’Orientation Agricole) that not only banned the agricultural use of nettles but also made any dissemination of information about nettles a punishable offense.

In practice, this meant that the media could no longer report on the benefits of nettle in agriculture and that the sale of nettle manure was no more legal than the hard drug trade. If you get caught or reported, you face a fine of 75,000 euros and a two-year stay behind Swedish curtains.

France demanded that nettle manure – as well as chemical sprays – should be officially marketed. This would have required complex and costly studies that no organic farmer, organic winegrower, or hobby gardener could afford.

It was said that far too little was known about nettle manure and its possible effects on the environment or on rivers and lakes. For this reason, the broth made from stinging nettles was banned as a precaution – and with it other traditional agricultural aids that had been tried and tested since primeval times, such as e.g. B. horsetail or stone flour.

In 2011 the use of nettle manure was allowed again.

Chemicals instead of nettle manure?

Instead, organic farmers and organic gardeners should use nothing at all or switch to synthetic fertilizers and chemical sprays. You should therefore resort to means that may only be deployed with protective clothing and only when there is absolutely no wind, to means that children must never get their hands on and whose empty containers must not even be put in the normal garbage, but brought to the hazardous waste must be. These finally have approval.

The supporters of organic farming and the passionate advocates of nettle manure do not put up with this. They fight for nettles and for gardens without chemicals. The “nettle war” has broken out in France.

The nettle: victim of bureaucracy

In many other countries around France (e.g. Germany, Austria, Spain, ) nettle manure is still in use – and completely legal. What is the difference between French nettle manure and German or Spanish nettle manure? There is no difference. Nettle manure is nettle manure.

Unfortunately, nettle manure is one of the so-called phytopharmaceuticals in France and one of the “plant strengtheners” in Germany. The usual approval regulations apply to phytopharmaceuticals, but not to plant strengtheners.

In summary, this means: Chemical pesticides whose toxicity to human, animal, and environmental health has been proven, but which are approved (because their manufacturers were able to pay for the necessary studies) may be used without hesitation.

But nettle manure, which has healed, nourished, and helped produce healthy foods for centuries, is being banned (in a single country) for being put in the wrong category by whoever.

Start loving nettle, it will thank you

Give the nettle a place in your garden and use the inconspicuous plant! Drink nettle tea, enjoy nettle vegetables, nibble on nettle seeds, and water your plants with nettle manure – of course only if you don’t live in France.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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