Taking the sting out of the stinging nettle

ANASTACIA SAMPSON

The stinging nettle plant may have been used by humans since the Bronze Age, but of course you may only first be aware of it when you mistakenly walk past this plant, with your bare skin making contact.

When I was little I thought this was a horrid plant.

Yet that ‘sting’ was also a potential remedy for conditions such as arthritis related pain or feelings of numbness. History reveals that even the ancient Egyptians applied this plant for arthritic types of pain.

The fine hairs on the leaf attach to your skin and cause an irritating heated rash.

It is not the hairs that are the problem, but the chemicals on the hairs but some of these chemicals are also effective in reducing pain and inflammation.

To reduce the effect of stinging nettle on the skin, apply cool water to wash the area (never hot or warm water), and then you can rub cooling lotions or gels like aloe on the affected area.

Always wear gloves when picking the leaves and then preparing them for use.

The leaves are even great to enjoy in dried form. As they support healthy blood sugar levels, nettle leaves are great to add to carbohydrate rich meals’, while boosting your healthy green intakes.

When you eat or make tea from the ‘prepared’ leaves, remember this plant has some potent benefits.

Prostrate health and blood circulation may also be supported by stinging nettle. While being a natural diuretic, stinging nettle may gently help reduce high blood pressure and aid in removal of wastes through the kidneys.

This damp-soil loving plant is an expectorant so it’s ideal for coughs and excess mucous conditions, such as allergic rhinitis.

In rare cases, side effects may occur from using this plant. This usually involves a bit of an upset stomach, rash and sweating.

Still, this plant has such a long history of use as a medicinal and dietary food. It even has been a source for linen fibers and dyes.

It would be worth having a plant like this in your garden.

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