Materia Medica – Urtica dioica
Considering that stinging nettles burn like crazy when touched, some people may think you’d have to be crazy to want to utilize it. However, besides its medicinal benefits, nettles have been used throughout history for textiles and dye. The fibers were used in Germany during WWI to make army uniforms when there was a shortage of cotton. Some of you may remember the story of The Wild Swans where a young princess had to gather the stinging nettles, make them into cordage and knit sweaters for her 11 brothers that had been turned into swans.
Botanical (Latin) Name: Urtica dioica
Common Name: Stinging Nettle
Parts Used: Leaves
Native Region: Found globally.
Botanical Description: A perennial that can grow anywhere from 1’-6’ with leaves in opposite pairs which are ovate to lanceolate in shape with toothed edges. The leaves have hollow, stinging hairs which can cause an intense stinging/burning reaction when touched. The flowers bloom from June to August.
Uses: Allergies, anemia, arthritis, asthma, gout, bladder infection, kidney stones, sciatica.
Actions: Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, anti-anaphylactic, anti-rheumatic, anti-asthmatic, anti-convulsant, anti-dandruff, antihistamine, astringent, decongestant, depurative, diuretic, hemostatic, hypoglycemic, hypotensive, glactagogue, immunomodulator, prostate tonic, stimulating tonic.
Preparations: Tea, tincture, extract, decoction, hair rinse, in foods and beverages.
Taste: Grassy like taste
Safety: Best to avoid during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. For those with diabetes and low blood pressure, stinging nettle might lower blood sugar and might lower blood pressure. It can increase urine flow, so check with your health provider if you have kidney problems.
Contraindications (Plant-Medication Combinations): Interacts with the following: Lithium and Warfarin; diabetes, high blood pressure and sedative medication.
Until next time, discover the power of welcoming nature’s healing plants into your life.
Common Nettle (Urtica dioica). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.arkive.org/common-nettle/urtica-dioica/.
Stinging Nettle. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-664-stinging%20nettle.aspx?activeingredientid=664.
Stinging Nettle Benefits. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-nettle.html.