My Favorite Free Source of Superior Nutrition – Nettle Tea
One of my favorite ways to make sure I am getting some extra nutrients is making nettle tea. I don’t have to buy any expensive supplements and have them shipped to my house. Nettle tea is free and it’s right outside my door. This wild plant has been with us for millennia and while most consider it a weed, it’s actually a powerful medicinal plant. We often forget that cultivated plants, like broccoli and carrots have been bread to have more sugar. While this tastes good, it comes at a cost. The plant has lost some of it’s wild bitterness. And it’s in these often bitter compounds where the magic is.
I firmly believe my use of Nettle tea was a large factor to why I healed so quickly from a serious car crash last year. While I was recovering I sometimes drank four or five cups of this every day.
Stinging nettle, also known as Urtica dioica, grows like a weed in many parts of North America, Europe, Asia and Northern Africa. There are large patches of it everywhere around here and it is very easy to identify. If you have ever been walking through a field or forest and felt a burning sensation on your legs, you probably walked through on of these patches. For this reason, many people treat it as a common weed to be eradicated. This is unfortunate because of all the wonderful uses for this plant.
Nettle has been use throughout the centuries by many cultures. One story of Milarepa, a Tibetan saint tells that he lived for many years off of nothing but nettle. It also mentions that it turned him a greenish tint, so I definitely don’t recommend trying it. There are many other stories stemming from ancient Greece and Europe as it’s use as a medicine and as a food.
- Good source of vitamins A, B, K, folate, niacin and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and many more
- Reduces inflammation
- Lessens nausea
- Reduces allergies
- Relieves arthritis
- Promotes milk production in lactating women
- Boosts immune system
- Natural painkiller
- Reduces plaque and gingivitis when use as mouthwash
- Supports thyroid, spleen and pancreas
- Supports adrenals
- Maintains proper cell structure
- Reduces internal bleeding
These are just a few of the many wonderful benefits of drinking nettle tea.
I started drinking nettle tea because of the vitamin and mineral content, but relied on it heavily after my accident because of the anti-inflammatory properties and because it supported the spleen and other organs.
This has become one of my favorite daily use herbs because of how easy it is to identify, harvest, prepare and because of the broad range of uses.
I have really noticed a large reduction in my allergies also. They used to flare up in to full blown sinus infections any time I flew on a plane or when the air pressure changed with the weather. I have only experienced 2 sinus infections since I started drinking nettle tea, and when I have had them, they didn’t get nearly as severe as usual.
You can always buy nettle leaves in bulk or even already in tea bags, but I always enjoy having a closer connection with my food and medicine whenever possible. That’s why I always try to harvest it myself and put back plenty for winter time.
Harvesting Stinging Nettle
Before you harvest nettle, you of course have to find it. This becomes very easy once you know what to look for. A good thing is, if you’re ever in doubt, you can always run your fingers along the underside of the leaf and on the stalk to see if you get stung.
Getting stung by stinging nettle isn’t really as bad as some people make it out to be. I feel its more of an annoyance than a pain. Like anything though, some people may have a more severe reaction to it, so always be careful.
To identify stinging nettle, first look for vibrant green plants with serrated leaves that are on opposite sides of the stalk. The next two leaves down should be at the other two positions on the plant. This means that if the first two leaves are at the 12 and 6 o’clock positions, then the next two would be at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. You will also be able to see the hair like stingers coming out of the stalk of the plant.
Once you identify the plant, its time to harvest some leaves. I usually only take a few leaves off of some of the healthiest plants. This will help to make sure that the plants don’t die and are able to release their seeds and provide my family and I with nettle for many years to come.
There is a way to handle nettle leaves without getting stung. If you are worried about getting stung, you can always use gloves while harvesting, but I like to use my bare hands so that I am always mindful of what I am doing. It also gives me a much greater respect for the plants I am working with.
To harvest the leaves, gently grasp the leave with your fingers on the top and bottom. Try not to rub your fingers along the underside of the leaf because this will lead to getting stung. While holding on to the leaf, use a pair of scissors and cut the leaf off of the stalk.
After I gather quite a few leaves, I usually put them in to a paper bag and dry them in front of a window. This usually takes a day or two depending on how much sun comes through that window. You are looking for the leaves to be dry, but not fall apart when you touch them. Until you get used to how long it takes to dry, you may want to use gloves if you are going to be checking the leaves, because until they are dried, there still is the possibility of getting stung. Once they are completely dry, they lost their ability to sting you.
You could also dry them in the oven or a dehydrator, but this could dry them out too much. Don’t let them dry so much that they turn brown. You will lose quite a bit of the nutritional value. You can also make tea with the fresh leaves. I just prefer the taste of the dried leaves and you can store them for much longer periods of time. Once the leaves are dried, I put them in a food processor or if I have the time I use my ulu to chop them up. After that, just put the chopped up leaves in to jars or sealable baggies and start brewing.
Brewing Nettle Tea
You can brew nettle tea just like any other loose tea. I prefer a French press type device for tea. I tend to use 1-2 tsp of dried nettle leaves per 8 oz. of water. The water temperature can be boiling or just slightly cooler. I usually let it steep for 5-10 minutes depending on how strong I want it. Just play around with the time to best suit your tastes.
Don’t worry, once nettle has been dried or cooked, it no longer has the ability to sting you.