The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Plant Profile: Nettle Leaf

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Nettles in the seed stage later in the summer.

Botanical Name:
Urtica dioica

Family: Urticaceae

Common Names:
Nettles, stinging nettles

Southwest Habitat:
Nettles like rich, black, damp soil in partial shade. It is most likely found in riparian areas, near seeps or in shady areas where deciduous trees have had the opportunity to help build the soil. It is not at all common in the arid landscapes of Arizona although it is a common weed in many temperate zones.

Energy & Tastes:
Mild taste and energy – sightly cooling and drying
Most wild greens are considered to be at least slightly bitter although I find nettles to have a sweet green taste when freshly sauteed.

High in protein, chlorophyll and many minerals

Preferred Method of Preparation:
For the dried leaf, my favorite method is an overnight hot water infusion which is drunk the following day. The usual ratio is one ounce of herb to one liter of hot water

The fresh picked leaves are both delicious and highly nutritious as a quick stir fried dish. The sting is neutralized by cooking or drying.

Nettles affect on the body is more nourishing than medicinal so my preference is to use it in quantity (decoctions and food) rather than as a tincture.

Nettles is commercially available in a freeze dried extract form. This is used in formulas for seasonal allergies.

Herbal Actions:
Alterative, nutritive, diuretic

Therapeutic Uses:
Nourishing mineral tonic. It must be used in quantity for this effect. An example is 1 oz of nettle per 1 quart water, infused overnight.

Research has shown fresh or freeze dried nettles helpful for seasonal allergies. In practice, some people report similar benefits with drinking infusions from dried nettles.

Has a general cleansing, detoxifying affect on the body. It is especially good for folks with excess heat and/or dampness.

Its high mineral content makes it a primary herb for building the blood.

Herbal Combos:
Use with peppermint for improved taste for a mainstream palette.
It combines well with warming Tulsi as a strong infusion.
Adding a small amount of demulcent balances its drying effect.

Safety Issues & Contraindications:
Considered a very safe food/herb.

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although the Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.


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