1970’s in Sweden visit a fellow’s farm where he shows me his nettle patch. He takes a weed whacker to them to trim the height a bit and make new growth. All the Germanic and close-to-Germanic people like nettles. The second language in Scandinavian nations used to be German.

The absolute best treatment on nettles is the book “Health Through God’s Pharmacy” by Maria Treben. Pages 41-43.  Yes, she is German.

Later in the 1970’s I hear a story from a macro deep in the Michigan woods in the Spring. They ate so many NETTLES they said their bowel movements had a green tinge. 

The nettles grow so high in Alaska due to the tremendous amount of sunlight when it comes. Yet another macro friend told me this one. His family ate them in the spring there. 

I gathered nettles for many years on the town conservation land in Lexington Massachusetts. Nettles are the most healing spring green with dandelions a close second. Maximum chlorophyll content. Nettles grow in a patch and spread outward from the permanent deep roots. This type of root system draws up maximum trace minerals and the iron nettles are famous for. Don’t think of them as a supplement (I see these ridiculous nettle capsules). They are a spring green. 

Pictures of Nettles

Nettles are very good at pulling minerals from the rich soil they prefer to grow in and contain acetylcholine, calcium, chlorine, chlorophyll, formic acid, glucoquinones, histamine, iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium, serotonin, silicon, sulfur, tannin, and vitamins A, B, C and K. Just as nettles are good for pulling vitamins and minerals from the soil they are also excellent for putting them back. Adding nettles to your compost will enrich the earth all the more or you can go the route I usually take and make a Foley’s tea from the stems and leaf matter. Foley’s tea is popularly known in this house as Big Stink Tea and if you make some you will soon find out why.

As herbalists have known for centuries, Urtica Dioca is gentle and safe enough to consume on a daily basis, yet has amazing strength and power. Nettle’s main use is as a cleansing, detoxifying herb, having a gentle but effective diuretic action, which can revitalize and restore the kidney and digestive systems. Nettle is antiallergenic and works wonders in treating hay fever, asthma, itchy skin conditions and insect bites. As an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, iron, trace minerals, chlorophyll, the B and C Complex vitamins, vitamins D and K, and amino acids, nettle is widely used to improve or prevent anemic conditions and generally enhance overall health. Additionally, the root of nettle has recently been established as effective for treating benign prostrate hypertrophy (enlargement). Not bad for a roadside weed! 

Whether taken as tincture or cooked green, nettle is an important ally to women in particular, whether maiden, mother or crones. As an infusion, two cups a day of her bountiful offerings nourish the reproductive and hormonal systems and provide nutrients essential for building rich blood. Midwives commonly suggest the use of nettle for nourishment of mother and fetus alike, to help prevent spotting, aid in providing stamina for labor, to protect against postpartum hemorrhaging and to aid in production and flow of milk. During the Menopause Journey, nettle’s nourishment supports places in a woman’s body – the kidneys, adrenal glands, lungs and hair follicles – which, when functioning optimally, continue to produce estrogen during and after a woman’s Change. Once again, not bad for a weed!

As if this weren’t enough for any one plant, even the Queen of Weeds, regular nettle consumption contributes greatly to thick and glossy hair, healthy hard nails, and clear smooth skin. When in need of some styptic action, finely powdered dried nettle leaves work quickly to stop bleeding from nosebleeds, razor and glass cuts, and other minor wounds.

There is one more detail, not to be overlooked in a total picture of nettle. Yes, the word “stinging” is part of her full name. Nettle was once the word for needle. Coming upon nettle’s sting unexpectedly can be frightening and painful. The stems are covered with tiny hollow hairs with swollen bases which are filled with the source of the sting – formic acid, histamines, serotonins, and other compounds, both identified and not.

“The macrobiotic way of life recommended by the ancient wise people and practiced widely for physical, mental and spiritual development consists of the following arts; the way of eating, the way of breathing, and the way of daily life. Because a human being is part of his environment, and has evolved through biological development covering more than three billion years on this planet, his physical, mental and spiritual conditions are based upon what he consumes from his natural environment and his food. The way of eating is the most essential factor for his development.”

Michio Kushi, THE BOOK OF DO-IN (ISBN 0-87040-382-6)

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