Stinging nettle is one of my favorite foods, 9 months of the year.  Bring it into your yard.  It tolerates some shade.  Contain it, wall it in.  Superior genetics, very invasive.  Cut top whorl of leaves all spring, summer and fall: steam, saute, in soups, stir fry. 

Freeze dried nettle is claimed by some Naturapaths as anti-allergic.  May relieve allergy induced congestion and other symptoms. (More)      Also a recipe.

My nettle patch being encroached by Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis Meerb.).  Eat the nettles and Jewelweed.  Use Jewelweed to relieve nettle stings and treat poison ivy.  Varieties of stinging nettle have been used to swat arthritic areas as a counterirritant and to improve joint circulation.

Approved by Commission E for treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).

More as an edible wild plant

Patents: hair loss     Prostate formula

Stinging nettle is said to be helpful on arthritic joints as a counterirritant.  Mexican truck drivers use the plant to relieve sciatica.  They also drink copious amounts of tequila.  I recommend if you use the nettle arthritis remedy, have the tequila ready...Sure, the one with the worm.  Scarification is another way that Native Americans treated arthritis.  See the videos Native American Medicine and Little Medicine at www.herbvideos.com .
Late season nettle plants may be simmered for mineral and nutrient content.  A flavorful vegetable bullion.

A  few friends say that nettle tea made from fresh nettle leaves helps relieve their respiratory allergies.   One cup of loosely packed leaves to each cup of water.  Bring water to a boil, pour over leaves, cover and let cool before drinking.

Harvest tops of leaves throughout the seasons.  Stem will bifurcate and produce two more tops....Doubling your next harvest.
SPANISH MEDICINE:  Urtica urens.  In Spanish: ortiga menor; Catalan: ortiga menuda.  Leaves are prepared in infusion as a diuretic, mineral replenisher, hemostat, and to purge toxins from the body (purgative).  The root is believed to reduce the size of kidney stones.  A decoction of the seeds is believed to prevent involuntary urination in children.

It is used in infusion, tincture and juice.

Spanish boil the new leaves (top whorls) then cool them and use them in salads, cooked vegetable dishes, tapas.

This particular species U. urens is very high in chlorophyll.

It is eaten by domestic animals and wild foraging animals of the Pyrenees.

                         Vertiginous drop lined with nettle
and dock, Andorra.

Stinging nettle 

Urtica dioica L.

 Description: Perennial plant, erect, tall and square, grooved stem, studded with stinging hairs, leaves dark green rough, heart to oval shaped, toothed, green flowers born in leaf axils, bearing numerous green seeds.  Both sexes on one plant and plants with separate sexes.

 Location: Edges of fields, streamside, wetlands, marshy areas, fringe areas, wasteland, roadsides nationwide.

 Notes: A readily available wild plant  in my garden. It provides minerals, vitamins and phytochemistry that protects me and alleviates my psoriasis. We eat the herb stewed, steamed, saute almost daily from April through October. Simply snip off the new growth top leaves, cook and enjoy its multiple benefits.

 Food: Young shoots in Fall (new growth) and shoots in Spring are picked and steamed or saute. Also, stir-fry. One of my favorite recipes is to cream nettle into soup. Older summer hardened nettles may be simmered with other herbs: rosemary, celery, thyme, onions, leeks, lovage to make a vegetable bullion, or soup base. Discard the plant materials after simmering for twenty-five minutes. Use vegetable broth in cooking. Jewelweed and mullein may be rubbed on nettle stings for relief.

Traditional Uses:  Nettles, a mineral rich plant food, have been used for generations to treat allergies.  The infusion of the aerial parts has expectorant qualities having been used for asthma and cough. Nettle tincture is used for flu, colds, pneumonia and bronchitis. Dried plant is styptic when applied to wounds and Naturopaths use the drug to treat internal bleeding.  According to Brill and Dean in their book, Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants, drinking nettle tea and eating nettles may make your skin clearer and healthier and it may be therapeutic for eczema. Eating nettles may improve color, texture, gloss and health of hair. Aerial parts also infused as a tea and used for urinary tract infections, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism.  Root tincture used for irritable bladder and prostate complaints.

In traditional Russian medicine nettle is used to treat hepatitis...Other North American plants used to treat hepatitis include Lobelia, Plantain, Passion Flower, Oregon grape, Pennyroyal, Dogwood, and Mayapple.

In Spanish traditional medicine nettle leaves are prepared in infusion as a diuretic, mineral replenisher, hemostat, and to purge toxins from the body  (purgative).  The root is believed to reduce the size of kidney stones.  A decoction of the seeds is believed to prevent involuntary urination in children.

Stinging nettle is said to be helpful on arthritic joints as a counterirritant.  Mexican truck drivers use the plant to relieve sciatica.  They also drink copious amounts of  tequila.  I recommend if you use the nettle arthritis remedy, have the tequila ready...Sure, the one with the worm.  Scarification is another way that Native Americans treated arthritis.  See the DVD Native American Medicine and Little Medicine at www.herbvideos.com.

  Counterirritant:  Nettles have been used to thrash arthritic joints.  Whipping the arthritic area causes pain and inflammation and temporary relief. Not recommended.

 Modern Uses: Commission E approved for treating Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). Nettle root and saw palmetto have been combined successfully to treat prostate enlargement symptoms (Engleman, et.al., Efficacy and safety of a combination of Sabal and Urtica extrace in lower urinary tract symptoms, Arzneim-Forschung/Drug Res. 2006; 56(3) 2222-229. Nettle roots in Russia are tinctured for hepatitis, and gall bladder inflammation.  In Germany, like in the US, nettle root extract is researched for the treatment of prostate problems.

 A randomized study of arthritis sufferers suggests that stinging nettle extract when accompanied by a lowered dose of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac improved or enhanced the efficacy of the prescription drug. In the test, half the patients took the full dose of diclofenac (anti-inflammatory drug for treating arthritis) 200mg while the test group took 50mg of diclofenac along with 50g of stewed nettle leaf. The results showed that the reduced prescription drug and nettle combination was just as effective at lowering pain as the full dose of the drug. These results confirmed the 1996 study of Ramm and Hansen, showing a lower amount of prescription anti-inflammatory was effectively enhanced by dried nettle leaf capsules (Chrubasik, Bauer, Grabner, Enderleinl 1997. Evidence for antirheumatic effectiveness of Herba Urticae dioicae in acute arthritis: A pilot study. Phytomedicine, Vol 4, No. 2, 105-108. Ramm et. al. 1996 . Brennesselblatter-extrakt bei arthrose und rheumatoider arthritis. Therapiewoche, Vol. 28, 3-6).

Notes:  If you cannot obtain fresh nettle then freeze-dried is your next best choice.  Nettle grows readily in my garden and provides edible leaves for up to nine months.  Harvest the new growth leaves at the top of the plant and watch as the picked stem bifurcates and grows two new growth sprouts, in effect, you have doubled your crop.  Try rubbing out the sting of nettle with mullein leaves or the juice of spotted touch-me-not (Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis).

Veterinarian/wildlife: Nettle is eaten by domestic animals andChamois) in the Pyrenees. Nettle is a vital ingredient in the cleansing tea I make for racing pigeons.  Short haired hunting dogs may have bad encounters with stinging nettle and wood nettle when hunting. Grazing animals will not eat live nettle but will eat it dried. Nettle juice mixed with nettle seeds is a good hair tonic for domestic animals (see www.ruralvermont.com).