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Nettle Leaves – The Super Herb

The thought of eating nettle leaves might set off alarm bells for you. We all know that the slightest touch of nettle can cause severe pain.

Nettle leaves for many purposes

Nettle leaves can not only be processed into a very detoxifying and tasty tea. They are also extremely rich in calcium, iron, and protein and can be powdered and integrated into many dishes – e.g. B. in green smoothies, but also as a spicy ingredient in dressings, dips, cream cheese, bread, and much more.

However, did you know that being allowed to use stinging nettle leaves is not at all a matter of course? Yes, we can really count ourselves lucky if we don’t live in France right now.

The nettle – Banned in France

The stinging nettle grows wherever the soil is moist and nutrient-rich. The stinging nettle starts very early in the year and is therefore one of the first plants to start flowering in spring. The stinging nettle is widespread in most northern countries and, due to its passion for usury, is considered an unpopular and massively controlled weed.

In France, however, the stinging nettle is fought for completely different reasons. A real nettle war has been going on there for years because the use of so-called nettle manure has been prohibited by law.

Nettle manure is the liquid that is produced when you put fresh nettle leaves or stalks in a bucket of water and let them ferment there. The resulting liquid manure is then used as a natural fertilizer for plants.

Nettle leaves as an excellent organic fertilizer

Nettle manure has been used in organic farming and by hobby gardeners since time immemorial. It ensures strong plants, healthy soil, and great harvests. But not in France.

Nettle manure has been illegal there since 2002 because it has no state approval. However, it is not only the nettle manure that is illegal but also the passing on of information about the benefits of the nettle.

You can read details about this here, where we also have a link to the appropriate 45-minute ARTE documentary on YouTube – with a lot of background information and interviews with people who are fighting for the nettle in France.

The stinging nettle – the super medicinal herb

Incidentally, the nettle not only strengthens plants and soils but also people! We have described many of the wonderful nettle properties in detail in our nettle main text.

Below is a summary of the main healing effects of stinging nettle:

  • Healing effect on the intestine: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, nettle can be used together with other holistic measures for chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The entire therapy concept is explained under the link above.
  • Healing effect on rheumatism: The anti-inflammatory nettle leaves act e.g. As a vegetable, for example, it is also very good for arthritis – not only anti-inflammatory but also pain-relieving and can be proven in rheumatism therapy to mean that less painkillers are needed.
  • Healing effect on the urinary tract: The main areas of application for nettle leaves (especially as a tea) are problems with the urinary tract, the bladder, and the kidneys, such as e.g. B. urinary tract infections, bladder infections, irritable bladder, bladder stones, etc. The stinging nettle ensures that the urinary tract is flushed out. In this way, neither pathogens can settle nor form bladder/kidney stones.
  • Healing effect on the prostate: The stinging nettle – in the form of stinging nettle root extract – improves prostate problems that have developed as a result of benign prostate enlargement. The explanation of a corresponding study can be found under the link above. Even with prostate cancer, nettle root extract is said to be helpful and inhibit cancer cell growth.
  • Healing effect on blood and blood pressure: Nettle leaves – enjoyed as a tea – lower blood pressure because they delay excessive blood clotting, so they also help prevent thrombosis and thus “thin” the blood, so to speak.
  • Healing effect on the immune system: The stinging nettle strengthens the body’s own defenses! The super herb supports the proliferation of T-lymphocytes (a subtype of defense cells), promotes the formation of antibodies, and spurs scavenger cells onto increased activity. The stinging nettle is also a useful drink, food, or dietary supplement in times of increased risk of infection.
  • Healing effect for lack of energy and tiredness: The stinging nettle is a tonic and is therefore suitable for anyone who feels tired and drained. For this purpose, one takes the nettle seeds. They increase vitality, potency, libido, and milk production in breastfeeding mothers. There are many reasons for this revitalizing effect. First of all, there is the vital and mineral richness of the seeds. In addition, nettle seeds have strong antioxidant and liver-protective properties. In addition, nettle seeds contain so-called phytosterols (beta-sitosterol), which prevent men from converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This should increase the level of free testosterone and explain the libido-increasing effect.
  • Healing effect for hair loss: According to experience and traditional sources, nettle seeds promote hair growth and ensure thick and shiny hair – not only in humans but also in horses. But nettle leaves are also found in preparations against hair loss. In the case of so-called genetic or androgenetic hair loss in men, it is ideal to combine preparations made from stinging nettle leaves with preparations from saw palmetto, the African plum tree (Pygeum africanum), and also with zinc and vitamin B 6. It is assumed that this mixture promotes the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) via inhibition of the corresponding enzyme (5-alpha-reductase). Dihydrotestosterone levels drop. At the same time, the remaining DHT is prevented from binding to the DHT receptors. As a result, DHT – which is held responsible not only for hair loss but also for prostate enlargement – can no longer have a negative effect. DHT is now broken down and the hair growth cycle normalizes and hair loss stops – but this can only be seen after a few months of use.

Nettle leaves for detoxification

All of these extremely positive properties of the stinging nettle make it an excellent companion for any detoxification, deacidification, or colon cleansing.

After all, almost every organ benefits from the nettle:

Inflammation in the intestines and joints decreases, the blood is cleaned, the immune system is brought into shape and the liver is relieved. Slag and toxins can be excreted in no time at all thanks to the flushing effect of the nettle leaves.

The vital substance content of the nettle leaves exceeds that of any cultivated vegetable
At the same time, the nettle leaves provide such enormous amounts of vital substances and minerals that conventional cultivated vegetables cannot even come close to keeping up.

100 grams of nettle leaves contain 700 mg of calcium, which is six times more than milk provides. Nettle leaves are also a good source of beta-carotene, magnesium (80 mg), and iron (4 mg), and their vitamin C content is six times that of the orange.

How can you best integrate the stinging nettle into your everyday life? There are many ways to do this:

The stinging nettle – recipes and possible uses

In particular, the leaves or the seeds of the stinging nettle, in rarer cases the root, are consumed. Below you will find the possible uses of the three parts of the plant, first the root, then the leaves, and below under 3. the possible uses of nettle seeds.

Nettle Root

As far as the root is concerned, ready-made preparations (nettle root extract) are not only the easiest to use, but the dose of active ingredients in them is also higher than e.g. B. in a nettle root tea.

However, if you prefer to do it yourself, you first need nettle roots of course for a nettle root tea – dried and powdered. Take 1 teaspoon in 1 cup of water (200 ml).

Bring the water and root powder to a boil. Take the tea off the stove and let it steep for 10 minutes. You can drink up to 5 cups of it daily (as a cure, e.g. over a period of two to three weeks, i.e. not permanently).

Nettle leaves

Nettle leaves are used much more frequently than roots. There are two ways you can eat or drink nettle leaves: either fresh or dried.

If you want to use the nettle leaves fresh, then you pick fresh young leaves – of course with gloves. The main harvest time is between May and September. In many mild regions or after mild winters, they can be harvested as early as March or April.

The best time to harvest is when the nettle is no more than knee high and its main stalks are still soft and supple.

Do not harvest nettle leaves (and other medicinal plants) if it has rained. They lose their aroma and also have a lower active ingredient content than on dry days. So, even when the weather is nice, wait until the dew has dried and then proceed to harvest.

Fresh nettle leaves

Fresh nettle leaves can now be steamed like a vegetable (similar to spinach) and then further processed into many recipes. Nettle leaves can also be added raw to green smoothies. Both the cooking and mixing processes destroy the stinging hairs.

Stinging nettle vegetables – the basic recipe

Place the coarsely chopped nettle leaves in a saucepan with very little water with a crushed clove of garlic, steam the leaves for a few minutes, season with a nettle seed spice mix, and serve with butter.

Keep in mind that nettle leaves—like spinach—collapse a lot. So you need between 300 and 500 grams of nettle leaves per person, depending on whether there are other vegetables, salads, side dishes, etc., or just the nettle vegetables with some fish or a veggie burger.

Nettle leaf smoothie

For a nettle smoothie, simply take the fruit of your choice, some water, and a handful of fresh young nettle leaves. Mix the mixture in a high-performance blender (e.g. Bianco Puro or Revoblend) and enjoy the fresh vitality of the stinging nettle!

Tasty example combinations for green smoothies with nettle leaves would be the following two (each for 1 person):

Nettle mango smoothie

nettle leaves, 1 small or ½ large mango, water, some freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a piece of fresh ginger

Nettle and tangerine smoothie

Nettle leaves, juice of four tangerines, 1 banana, water, and a pinch of cinnamon

Of course, you can also use locally stored fruits such as apples or pears. The combination of nettle leaves, berries (frozen out of season), and bananas also taste delicious.

Dried nettle leaves

Nettle leaves can also be dried very well. To do this, fresh young nettle leaves are dried in the shade in summer or – if the weather is too humid – in the dehydrator. Larger amounts of nettle are dried by hanging the entire stalk upside down in a dry place and then – after the drying time – stripping off the dry nettle leaves.

Tea made from nettle leaves

As mentioned at the beginning, dried nettle leaves can of course be used to make a great detoxifying tea. To do this, pour 150 ml of hot water over 2 teaspoons of dried nettle leaves (grind them finely between your fingers before brewing) and let the tea steep for 10 to 15 minutes. You drink about four cups of it a day.

You can also combine the tea made from nettle leaves with licorice, ginger, fennel, cinnamon, and peppermint. Of course, there are already ready-made mixtures, e.g. B. Nettle Morning Tea and Nettle Evening Tea.

Nettle Leaf Powder

Dried nettle leaves can also be ground into powder and then sprinkled over almost all dishes as a spice throughout the year. This not only spices up the taste of these dishes but also increases their vital substance and mineral content in particular.

You can now also find aromatic and spicy spice mixtures made from nettle leaves, nettle seeds, dried tomatoes, garlic, onions, pepper, and salt in your organic trade.

Of course, you can always add some of pure nettle leaf powder to green smoothies. It should be 1 to 2 tablespoons per serving of smoothie (approx. 300 ml) – especially in winter or when you don’t have any fresh greens in the house.

Pure nettle leaf powder is also available ready-made in stores if you missed harvesting and drying in late summer.

Nettle seeds

Nettle seeds taste great in muesli, soups, quark dishes, dips, and salad dressings or simply sprinkled on bread and butter. You can also mix the nettle seeds into the smoothie, add them to the bread dough or take them by the spoonful as the most natural dietary supplement.

Spice mixtures with nettle seeds are easy to use. These are available in different variations, e.g. B. with salt, with chili, or with pepper and salt.

And for those with a sweet tooth, there are muesli bars with nettle seeds and various dried fruits and nuts.

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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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