Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a flowering plant that has been used not just in traditional medicine for centuries, but in cooking and textile production as well. Hailing primarily from Europe, Asia and North America – but also found in parts of northern and western Africa – it thrives in cold regions of the world with nitrogen-rich soil, where it can grow up to 4 feet high.
Sometimes called “common nettle” or “stinging nettle,” the nettle plant is bright green in color, with a rigid stem and tapered, heart-shaped leaves. Both the stem and leaves are covered in fine, stiff hairs that release compounds such as histamine that can sting when touched.
Although touching a nettle plant with bare skin can cause a painful sting, it is those same compounds that make nettle such a powerful herb when consumed.
History of Nettle Use
Nettle has been used for hundreds of years throughout Europe to support the body’s response to arthritis, muscle aches, and skin conditions. Historically, it was also used in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, which was intended to reduce the effects of poisoning. In Austria, drinking nettle tea was thought to support the kidneys and urinary tract as well as seasonal illnesses.
Early Native Americans occasionally used the nettle plant in cooking, typically when other vegetables and herbs were scarce. Various cultures in India, Nepal, and parts of Europe have also historically cooked with nettle.
Nettle has also been used in the production of clothing and other textiles for hundreds of years. During World War I, many German military uniforms were made from the nettle plant. Even today, some European countries – including Germany – continue to manufacture nettle textiles.
Uses in Cuisine
The nettle plant has a mild and pleasant grassy flavor that is sometimes compared to the flavor of cucumber or spinach. It is most often used to make soups and teas, though may also be used to add flavor to pastas, breads, and even cheeses.
Nettle has a medicinal history that dates back hundreds of years. The plant is thought to have many important health benefits for women, particularly pregnant women. Various studies indicate that nettle may support milk production, reduce menstrual cramping and bloating, and ease menopausal symptoms.*
Nettle is also thought to promote urinary tract health, support the body’s response to inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and support kidney function.* Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, nettle can also support a healthy response to joint and muscle pain, sprains, strains and allergies.* As always, check with your doctor before adding any new herbal tea or other supplement to your daily wellness regimen.
New Nettle SuperHerb® Tea
The Republic of Tea is pleased to announce the launch of our new Organic Nettle SuperHerb Tea, which is blended with a hint of peppermint and warm vanilla for a truly satisfying, caffeine-free cup. Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page so that you can be the first to learn about out newest innovations – your taste buds will not want to miss out!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.