The Stinging Nettle ~ Urtica dioica

A plant so common that it is found on nearly every piece of waste ground. Despite their sting (easily relieved with the juice of a plantain leaf crushed in the hand, or a drop or two of pure Lavender essential oil) they are one of our most valuable mineral herbs. Nettles accumulate large quantities of nitrogen, calcium, silica, iron, phosphates and vitamins B, C & K. Nettles are primarily diuretic and blood cleansing eliminating uric acid from the body. This explains their reputation in reducing painful inflammation as seen in oseto-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in humans. The presence of vitamin K gives nettles anti-haemorrhagic qualities. Nettle root contains sitosterols useful in controlling benign prostrate hyperplasia.

Nettles compared weight for weight with spinach are far richer in iron. The cottager’s ‘nettle soup’ being an excellent source of minerals and vitamins, in early Spring. An excellent alternative to liver as a source of iron for vegetarians and toxin conscious meat eaters.

The sting in the leaves is due to histamine that can be easily destroyed with drying. Nettles can be cut, spread out on a baking tray and dried in the oven at 70 0 C for an hour or so. Keep the dried nettles in an airtight tin and add to your horse’s mash feed.