Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is an herbaceous perennial plant also known as common nettle, garden nettle, burn weed, burn nettle, and burn hazel. It is native to Europe, Asia, North America, and Northern Africa but is now found in different parts of the world. It got its name from the stinging sensation a person feel when he touches the stinging hairs of the plant. The stinging hairs are actually called trichomes which inject chemicals such as serotonin, histamine, acetylcholine, and formic acid when they come in contact with the skin. The mixture of chemicals cause painful sting that disappears after few minutes.
For centuries, sting nettle has been used as food and medicine. Sting nettle was a common vegetable to Native Indians during the spring season when there was scarcity of edible plants. In Northern and Eastern Europe, nettle soup is a popular recipe. Recipes like polenta and pesto use sting nettle as an important ingredient. Different countries have different ways of using sting nettle. One common way of using the herb is in making tea.
Nettle tea has been used for hundreds of years as remedy for a variety of ailments such as arthritis (joint pain), sore muscles, hay allergy, insect bites, skin disease, sprains, strains, premenstrual syndrome, and excessive bleeding during menstruation and after pregnancy. It is one of the many teas that are highly regarded for their health benefits and therapeutic uses.
Drinking nettle tea is known to improve the symptoms of joint and muscle pain. Applying tincture of the herb to the affected part is also effective in relieving the pain. Nettle tea contains compounds that block inflammatory compounds which cause joint and muscle pain. People with rheumatism or osteoarthritis should try drinking nettle tea to help relieve pain.
People with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate may also find drinking nettle tea helpful in improving the symptoms which include reduced urinary flow, post urination dripping, incomplete emptying of the bladder, and the constant urge to urinate. The effectiveness of nettle in treating BPH was even compared to the drug finasteride which treat the same disease. It is not yet clear how nettle is able to treat BPH but researchers suggest that compounds in nettle affect sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) or act directly on prostate cells. Definitely, more studies are needed to clear us about this. People with BPH who plan to use nettle tea should not forget to inform their doctors about it.
Nettle tea may also help reduce the symptoms of hay fever which include sneezing and itching. Scientists suggest that nettle tea contains compounds that reduce the amount of histamine in the body. Histamine is the substance released by the immune cells that produces allergic reactions. Besides nettle tea, nettle capsules can also be taken as remedy to hay fever symptoms.
Preliminary animal studies suggest the ability of nettle to lower blood sugar and blood pressure. Studies are needed to learn if nettle has the same effects to human.
Nettle tea is also a natural diuretic or a substance that increases urine flow. Diuretics like nettle tea are needed to lower blood pressure by reducing blood volume.
Nettle tea may also be effective in treating urinary tract infections, coughs, and eczema. Instead of using diuretic drugs that may have side effects, why not try drinking nettle tea
Nettle tea is a good source of amino acids, fatty acids, chlorophyll, folic acid, pantothenic acid, acetic acid, glucidic acid, sterols, formic acid, vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B5, K, beta carotene, calcium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. All these organic acids, vitamins, and minerals are needed by our body to remain healthy and strong.
How To Prepare Nettle Tea?
Preparing nettle tea is easy, just pour 2/3 cup of boiling water over 3-4 teaspoons of dried nettle root or leaves. Cover and steep for 3 to 5 minutes, and strain.
You can add a slice of lemon to your tea and watch the color change from dark green to bright pink.