Stinging Nettles

Stinging nettles grow throughout most of the United States.  They are common and easy to identify.  When you go to pick them wear a long sleeve shirt and longs pants and have a good pair of gloves.

Stinging nettles have a flavor similar to spinach when cooked.  They are rich in vitamins A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium.  Young plants were harvested by Native Americans and used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce.  In some areas, they appear as early as January.

Soaking nettles in water or cooking will remove the stinging chemicals from the plant, which allows them to be handled and eaten without incidence of stinging.  After Stinging Nettles enter its flowering and seed setting stages the leaves develop gritty particles, which can irritate the urinary tract.  At its peak season, stinging nettle contains up to 25% protein, dry weight, which is high for a leafy green vegetable.  The young leaves are edible and make a very good potherb.  The leaves can also be dried and may then be used to make an herbal tea.  The dried herbs can also be used in stews and soups. Nettle soup is a common use of the plant, in parts of Europe.

They have many medicinal properties some of which are listed below.

  • Blood purifier and diuretic.
  • Primary use has been for allergies (usually taken in capsule form).
  • Used for urinary problems and rheumatic problems.
  • Used for anemia, arthritis, food or pollen allergies, head and chest colds, relief of asthma and bronchial cough, hay fever, and prostratitis.
  • The tea with honey and lemon is used as a stimulant.
  • Increases flow of milk in nursing mothers.
  • Makes an astringent gargle for sore throats and mouthwash for bleeding gums.
  • Tea used as a rinse for dandruff.

The following information is from WEB MD it shows the interaction with prescription medicines.

  • Lithium interacts with STINGING NETTLE

Stinging nettle might have an effect like a water pill or “diuretic.” Taking stinging nettle might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with STINGING NETTLE

Stinging nettle above ground parts might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking stinging nettle along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

  • Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) interacts with STINGING NETTLE

Stinging nettle above ground parts seem to decrease blood pressure. Taking stinging nettle along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

  • Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with STINGING NETTLE

Large amounts of stinging nettle above ground parts might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking stinging nettle along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with STINGING NETTLE

Stinging nettle above ground parts contain large amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is used by the body to help blood clot. Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. By helping the blood clot, stinging nettle might decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin). Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

As with any plant be sure of its identity before you use it.



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8 Responses to Stinging Nettles

  1. Matt in Oklahoma says:

    The flower once dried to a white color will provide a good partial tender for firestarting. It doesnt completly burn but instead “flares” up and put with some dried grass is easily started.

  2. SLHaynes says:

    Wow, good stuff Howard! Stinging Nettle is now in my repertoire of good weeds to remember and locate.

  3. Bobby says:

    From a look at all the medications that stinging nettle could possibly interfere with, is it possibly to substitute stinging nettle for those medications, or is the degree of effect insufficient? For example, though it is not specifically listed under the various uses, it sounds as though it could be used as a blood clotting agent, a sedative, or to treat high blood pressure or diabetes.

  4. Laura says:

    This is a great piece. I am very interested in herbal remedies too.

    We have something that grows here that looks (to me anyway) just like the top picture but apparently is not stinging nettle. I’ve gotten brave enough to handle it to see, but it doesn’t sting. Do you have any idea what other plants resemble it?

  5. Theresa Casteel says:

    Very interesting. I would have never thought of stinging nettle as edible. Something to keep in my back pocket!

  6. Bonnie Garoutte says:

    I have heard that stinging nettle can be an all around restorer of health – we should all eat it.

  7. eric dexter says:

    It can be used to make cheese as a plant based rennet. The vegitable part seems
    more chalenging.

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