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Stinging Nettles - Natural remedy of the month

 May 2009


stinging nettlesIt is a cause of family dispute. I hate stinging nettles, in fact I loathe them with a vengeance. They hide in-between bushes so that when I go to trim a branch I get stung; they grow in profusion in the little wild section beyond the lawn where it is too rocky for the mower. They grow up by the edge of the shed where I inevitably get stung when I try and cut them down. I hate stinging nettles.

On the other hand, my family thinks they are wonderful.  Ladybirds love them, they shout. They tell me you can pick them and make them into healthy soup (you do it, then!). It’s a food source for insects and caterpillars; we wouldn’t have so many healthy butterflies without the nettles, they say.

Whatever your feeling about stinging nettles, there is no getting away from the fact that they are very much part of the English countryside. Its latin name is urtica dioica and nettles have been here for centuries.

I have to concede that nettles do have their uses – there is good evidence that they are bursting with healthy vitamin C, iron and other great nutritional aids. And evidently they can be really tasty -  they can make a lovely soup. Or you can serve them like spinach, clean and chop them (wearing rubber gloves is a good idea here!); then put them in a very little water and cook for 20 minutes. Once cooked, the stinging part has been deactivated and it makes a very pleasant and nutritious side dish to a meal.

The nettle, however, is said to have a number of beneficial health properties which perhaps makes up a little for its aggressive stinging behaviour. Nettles have been used for medicinal purposes since the Greeks, They are said to be anti-inflammatory and also anti parasitic.

Nettle tea has been brewed for centuries for a number of treatments, including blood purification and also to relieve hay fever, arthritis and even anaemia. The same properties are also used to treat a number of skin complains including eczema.

There are various recipes around to turn nettles into a pleasant shampoo that will remove head lice and also stimulate hair growth at the same time.

The Romans used to believe nettles could cure almost anything!

It seems well accepted that there really are beneficial properties in nettles; but I just wish they would go and live in someone else’s garden!!!! 


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