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Nettle - a true superfood

Why there are plenty of reasons to respect the good old nettle!

If any plant should be called a superfood, the stinging nettle deserves that title.

The nettle does not require a botanical description because I very much doubt that anyone, anywhere, not least in Europe, is unfamiliar with this species.

Some may dislike it, see it as a nuisance, and resort to weed-killers, whilst others actively collect and process it for culinary and medicinal use.

It is, after all, free. Nor is it threatened by extinction. It is important, however, to collect it away from roadsides and other polluted areas. Nettle leaves and roots contain practically many of the nutrients we need: Vitamins A, C and K, as well as several B vitamins.


Nettles contain minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.

They are rich in fatty acids like linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and oleic acid.

They also contain building blocks for proteins which are the essential amino acids, and polyphenols like kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic acid, coumarins and other flavonoids.

Polyphenols are plant-based micro nutrients that have wide ranging health benefits.

Nettles are rich in pigments like beta-carotene, lutein, luteoxanthin and other carotenoids.

Many of these nutrients provide much needed antioxidant activity inside your body.

An amazing collection! How can we use this wonderful free food without tongue or throat being stung?

The best way to use nettles is to harvest them wearing suitable gloves then put the whole plants through a juicer. (Take a teaspoonful of this juice two or three times a day with a little water.)

It is wise to juice a good amount and freeze the juice into ice cubes. That way you can use a cube every day.

There are many internet recipes for making nettle soup, nettle lasagne, and so on.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had several recipe ideas published in the Guardian a while ago https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/30/nettle-recipes-hugh-fearnley-whittingstall

Medicinally, nettles help to lower blood levels of uric acid.

This may benefit certain individuals suffering from rheumatic pain in whom raised uric acid levels have been identified as a present or potential cause of symptoms.

They also stimulate the body to expel metabolic waste, therefore healing skin rashes and eczema.

The high iron content of nettle may help to reduce or prevent some forms of anaemia which in turn may reduce the tiredness and lethargy typically accompanying anaemia of any severity.

At this time of year the nettles are slowly coming up again. They are at their best when fresh and young.

Not only humans benefit from nettles. Many butterfly larvae depend on nettles as a food source.

I have heard good anecdotal evidence that bees seem to derive protection from the varroa mite when the hive is surrounded by nettles, probably because of the plants’ formic acid content.

Plenty of reasons to respect the good old nettle!.

Please contact me for further information and where to obtain the root

Luzia Barclay DBTh MIRCH Registered Medical Herbalist

I run a number of worshops in the local area, book online here

Email mail@luzia.co.uk or call 01722 330663

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