I first heard of stinging nettles in the old fairy tale The Wild Swans, about a princess who’s brothers were all turned into swans. She had to weave them shirts made from the fiber of stinging nettles and the nettles stung her fingers.
Stinging nettles are the first greens of the season! I first discovered nettles while searching for a non-pharmaceutical cure for my allergies. Ever since I’ve enjoyed the detox benefits to jump-start my spring health kick. These nettles were first planted in the garden by my son when he was in third grade to keep people out of his section of the garden to protect his strawberries! I’ve moved them to the outskirts of the garden since (it’s not fun to get stung while wearing shorts), but they spread quickly and easily and like to migrate. In late summer I feed them to my animals and add them to the compost, the seeds that fall off during that journey show the paths I walk. These nettles are tenacious survivors! Spring is the best time for nettles, since after they go to seed later in the summer they become toxic for people.
We’re bringing our stinging nettles to the Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market this year, so come out tomorrow for a chance to try them for yourself! We grow them organically, of course, and I cut them off the stems for you, however, the leaves still have a little sting to them. Salad tongs are helpful, but getting stung isn’t that bad, so no worries.
How to Use Stinging Nettles
- Make a tea by pouring boiling water over the leaves. Steep 5-10 minutes and drink (peppermint and honey can be added for flavor).
- Puree in your blender with your favorite fruit smoothie ingredients.
- Puree in a food processor with olive oil, salt, fresh garlic, basil, walnuts and Parmesan cheese for pesto to eat with zucchini noodles or pasta!
- Blend with your favorite sauces and add to your favorite dishes.
- Slice thin and add it to stir-fry’s or spaghetti sauce.
- Blend with eggs to make a green quiche or frittata.
- Slice thin and stir fry with garlic, onions, bacon and eggs!
- Anywhere you would use cooked greens, just remember that because they have the sting, it’s important to either blend them or cook them to deactivate the sting.
Benefits of Stinging Nettles
- Nettle stimulates the lymph system to boost immunity
- Nettle relieves arthritis symptoms
- Nettle promotes a release from uric acid from joints
- Helps to support the adrenals
- It helps with diabetes mellitus
- Strengthens the fetus in pregnant women
- Promotes milk production in lactating women
- Relieves menopausal symptoms
- Helps with menstrual cramps and bloating
- Helps break down kidney stones
- Reduces hypertension
- Helps with respiratory tract disease
- Supports the kidneys
- Helps asthma sufferers
- Stops bleeding
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces incident of prostate cancer
- Minimizes skin problems
- Eliminates allergic rhinitis
- Lessens nausea
- Cures the common cold
- Helps with osteoarthritis
- Alleviates diarrhea
- Helps with gastrointestinal disease, IBS, and constipation
- Reduces gingivitis and prevents plaque when used as a mouth wash.
- Has been shown to be helpful to in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
- Relieves neurological disorders like MS, ALS and sciatica
- Destroys intestinal worms or parasites
- Supports the endocrine health by helping the thyroid, spleen and pancreas