Nettle1Stinging Nettles, were my worse enemy as a child.. I have many, many memories of getting badly stung, but I guess, in hindsight, it’s a sign that I had a good childhood, spending a lot of time playing outdoors.

Other than giving kids nasty stings ;), nettles have been used for centuries to treat various ailments such as arthritis, asthma, bladder infections, bronchitis, bursitis, gingivitis, gout, hives, kidney stones, laryngitis, multiple sclerosis, PMS, prostate enlargement, sciatica, and tendinitis! Nettles are particularly effective in helping manage allergy symptoms such as hay fever. They contain biologically active compounds which can reduce inflammation by interfering with the production of prostaglandins and histamine, affecting a number of key receptors and enzymes in allergic reactions. Nettles should be consumed when symptoms of hay fever first appear for best results.

The anti-inflammatory effect of nettles are also thought to reduce the feeling of pain by interfering with the way that nerves send pain signals, therefore beneficial for the reduction of stiffness and pain caused by arthritis. Nettles are classed as an astringent herb; these type of herb shrink and tighten the top layers of skin or mucous membranes, reducing secretions, relieving irritation, and improving tissue firmness. They also have a diuretic effect, ensuring toxins are quickly eliminated by the kidneys.

Externally nettle can be used to improve the appearance of the hair, as remedy against oily hair and dandruff.

Here is a list of the top uses demonstrating nettle’s powerful action in the body:

  • Nettle stimulates the lymph system to boost immunity
  • Relieves arthritis symptoms
  • Promotes a release from uric acid from joints
  • Helps to support the adrenals
  • Relieves menopausal symptoms
  • Helps with menstrual cramps and bloating
  • Helps break down kidney stones
  • Reduces hypertension
  • Supports the kidneys
  • Helps asthma sufferers
  • Stops minor bleeding
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces incidence of prostate cancer
  • Minimizes skin problems
  • Eliminates allergic rhinitis
  • Lessens nausea
  • Helps recovery from 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

Now is a great time to pick the young shoots and include nettles into your diet, especially as we get into hay fever season. Use only the tips of the plants. But please be careful when picking them, wear some protective gloves. Make sure you wash them thoroughly.

Stinging Nettle Soup

(serves 2)

1 carrot
1 small onion
1 celery stalk
1 small parsnip
1 big handful of nettle leaves
squeeze of lemon juice
2-3 stalks of fresh parsley
season with salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 min until the vegetables are soft. Add the nettle leaves and simmer for a further 3 minutes. Season to taste. Add the parsley and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Pour into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Serve immediately. Lovely garnished with some toasted pine nuts.


Flaxseed and Stinging Nettle Crackers

80g flax seeds
150ml water
Nettle leaves from 3 plants
1 clove of garlic
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of himalayan salt

Place the flax seeds into a bowl and pour the water over. Leave them to soak for 15 min. In the mean time place the garlic and nettle leaves in a pestle and mortar and bash to a pulp. Season with some salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Add this mixture to the bowl and stir through with a fork to disperse the nettles into the flax which will by now have started to absorb the water. Line a baking tray with some parchment paper and spread the mixture thinly using the back of a spoon. Place in a preheated  oven on the lowest possible temperature. Depending on how hot your oven is, bake for approx 1 hour or until the cracker feels crispy to touch. When it has started to curl up at the edges, you may want to carefully peel it off the parchment paper and place it back on upside down for a further 20 min. When it’s completely crispy, break into crackers and have with your favourite savoury spreads.


Nettle Tea

Use the fresh leaves of one plant and pour boiling water over them.  Allow to brew for 10 minutes and drink. You can also dry the leaves by hanging them upside down, then use the dried leaves to make tea.


Be cautious using nettles if you are:

Pregnant – nettles may affect the menstrual cycle and cause uterine contractions

Diabetic – some research shows that nettle has the ability to affect blood sugar so only take under doctor’s supervision.

Using other herbs or supplements as they may be contraindicated

Using any of the following medications: blood thinners, blood pressure medication, diuretics, Lithium, Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or sedatives.