You may have by now seen this plant that when touched with bare hands irritates and can cause rushes. To some communities in Kenya, it is a curse but to those who know it, its a blessing as its a source of food and other many benefits. The Agikuyu for instance have for so long been using stinging nettle leaves in cooking their favorite dish (Mukimo). Apart from that, Stinging nettle (Hatha/Thabai), as they call it is used to cure several diseases.
The stinging nettle is a herbaceous flowering plant which is a subspecies of, and belongs to the Urtica genus. The stinging nettle is a small plant and it rarely grows past five feet in height, but is has a huge variety of health benefits. The stinging nettle plant has stinging hairs called trichomes on their leaves and stems, which, when touched by humans, injects chemicals such as histamine into the human body, thus giving it the name ‘stinging nettle’. It is also due to this very reason that this plant also has colloquial names such as burn nettle, burn weed and burn hazel.
Nutritional Value of Stinging Nettle
While the name ‘stinging nettle’ often makes it seem like it cannot be consumed, that is not true. This plant actually offers great nutritional value. A single cup of blanched stinging nettles comprises of 37 calories, and 0.1 grams of fat. It has no sodium, fat, cholesterol, or sugar in it, but it provides a substantial amount of carbohydrates and protein. One cup of stinging nettle contains 2.4 grams of protein and 6.6 grams of carbohydrates. Stinging nettles also have minerals such as potassium, iron and silica.
Nutritional facts Per 100 Grams
0.1 g Total Fat
4 mg Sodium
334 mg Potassium
7 g Total Carbohydrate
2.7 g Protein
Vitamins and Minerals
40 % Vitamin A
8 % Iron
5 % Vitamin B-6
40 % Magnesium
What are the Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle?
Helps in detoxification
The stinging nettle has a huge variety of nutrients in it, thus making it an ideal natural detoxifier. It helps cleanse the body of all toxins. It is a diuretic substance, which means that it can not only cleanse toxins from the body, but it can also ensure that any toxins that are being neutralized in the body are eliminated from the body as quickly as possible. Stinging nettles also help stimulate the lymphatic system, thus helping the body to get rid of excess toxins from the kidneys.
Aids in pregnancy
The stinging nettle has often been recommended to women who undergo extremely painful labour. The stinging nettle acts as a coagulant, thus helping prevent excessive bleeding. Additionally, stinging nettle has been proven very effective in helping to stimulate the production of milk in the body of a woman, thus making lactation easier for the mother as well as for the infants.
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Improves blood circulation
Stinging nettle has a high content of iron and vitamin C, thus making it ideal for helping stimulate production and growth of red blood cells, which consequently improves blood circulation in the body. The presence of Vitamin C helps increase uptake of iron by the body, and since iron is an essential compound present in hemoglobin, blood circulation is drastically improved. Also, with the increase in RBC count, healing of wounds speed up, and the body receives oxygenation essential for boosting overall energy levels.
Helps improve feminine health
Stinging nettle has often been shown to alleviate painful menstrual symptoms such as cramping and bloating. It also helps decrease premenstrual symptoms. Stinging nettle helps decrease blood flow during menstruation due to its capabilities as an astringent. It is also administered to women undergoing menopause, as it acts as a restorative, and thus smooths the transition process, so the shift in hormones is not as drastic as it otherwise would have been.
Improves kidney and gallbladder health
Stinging nettle is essentially a diuretic, and has nephritic qualities, which means that it can easily break down stones in the gall bladder and the kidneys. This ensures that pain is reduced as much as possible. In case the stones have to be surgically removed, stinging nettle is often used to reduce pain and inflammation. Since it is a diuretic, stinging nettle helps prevent bladder infections and retention of excess fluid in the body.
Has anti-inflammatory properties
Stinging nettle is a rubefacient substance, and a stimulant, which is why it acts as an effective agent against inflammatory conditions such as muscle pain or arthritis. Research has proven that stinging nettle helps effectively treat conditions such as gout. It also helps alleviate muscle pain, and reduces symptoms of arthritis.
Treats respiratory conditions
Stinging nettle helps in the treatment of quite a large number of respiratory conditions such as asthma, hay fever, and other seasonal allergies. If used in combination with certain other extracts, stinging nettle can help in the reduction of allergic reactions in patients suffering from various kinds of allergies.
Keeps the heart healthy
With regular consumption, stinging nettle can successfully lower systolic blood pressure, thus making sure the heart remains healthy and fit for a longer period of time. A decrease in systolic blood pressure means that there is a lesser amount of stress and tension on the cardiovascular system.
Improves health of the prostate
As men age, problems related to prostate enlargement and other diseases of the prostate become widespread. Stinging nettle can help prevent prostate growth due to its chemical composition. In case the disease has set in and cannot be prevented anymore, even in such cases, stinging nettle can reverse the condition effectively, thus treating any and all prostate problems.
Improves gastrointestinal health
Supplements made from the stinging nettle extract are often taken to help reduce nausea, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. Stinging nettle can also help soothe hemorrhoids and ulcers.
Useful for skin care
Stinging nettle has been proven to effectively treat and reduce the appearance of acne. It can also prevent bacterial infections. Due to the fact that it has antioxidant properties, stinging nettle can help speed healing of wounds as well as reduce the appearance of blemishes and scars. It also promotes anti-aging by helping reduce wrinkles and age spots.
Uses of Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is a health-boosting herb that has a variety of amines, flavonoids, lignans, minerals, and vitamins A, B2, C and K. It has been used for hundreds of years as an effective treatment for muscle and joint pains, and for the treatment of diseases such as gout and arthritis. Certain extracts of the stinging nettle have been found to be very effective in treating conditions such as diarrhea, edema, and other prostate and urinary disorders. It is often used directly on the hair as an effective treatment against dandruff, as well as to add shine to the hair. The stinging nettle can also be used as a herbal remedy in the treatment of hay fever, as this plant possesses the ability to reduce production of histamine in the body.
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Side-Effects & Allergies of Stinging Nettle
The stinging nettle does not generally have any side effects if taken in doses directed by the doctor. It is very important to administer caution while handling the plant, because touching it bare handed can cause allergic rashes and reactions.
Cultivation of Stinging Nettle
The stinging nettle has its origins in the cold regions of Asia and Northern Europe. Today, however, this plant grows all over the world. The stinging nettle need soil rich in nitrogen for its growth, and can mostly be found in areas that are not very well tended to, such as gardens, lawns and other areas such as construction sites. This plant can also be found in areas with moderate forest coverage, as well as open meadows. Stinging Nettle just grow wildly !
CAUTION: Stinging nettles should be planted away in obscure corners where innocent visitors are not likely to be stung, Always watch children to make sure they stay in the safe zone.