Nettles: Benefits and Infusions


When I heard that it was going to be an early spring, I immediately decided it was time for a nettle infusion. Nettles, also called stinging nettles, are nutritious to the body. They have a rich variation of phytonutrients, trace minerals, and vitamins that make them highly beneficial to various physiological systems.


Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) are an herbal powerhouse of benefits and nutrients. It is one of the best spring herbs, in my opinion. The benefits of nettles, especially as an infusion, are endless.


What makes nettles so amazing and what do they do?


  • They are rich in vitamins A, C, E, K, many of the B-complexes, such as B-6 and thiamine and minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, chromium, and potassium. One cup can provide up to 30% of the daily RDA of calcium!

  • They also contain many phytonutrients such as chlorophyll, beta-carotene, rutin, and sitosterols (which are beneficial for supporting healthy cholesterol levels.)

  • As one of the first plants to awaken in spring, Nettles can help reduce allergies, hay fever symptoms, and allergy-associated asthma (Adhikari, Bajracharya, & Shrestha, 2015).

  • Nettles are energizing! They promote circulation, builds the blood with its iron and vitamin C content, and helps clear the cold, stagnant energy from winter out of the body.

  • Nettles may benefit the reproductive system by balancing hormones. It reduces sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), allowing for a decrease in androgens (Meletis & Zabriskie, n.d.). This property provides a potential benefit to women with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome. It may also block the production of DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), a sex hormone associated with androgenic alopecia or hair loss.

  • The phytonutrients found in nettles can inhibit kidney stones by preventing calcium and oxalate crystals from forming (Nirumand et al., 2018).

  • Studies indicate the use of nettles for relieving joint pains and symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatism, and gout (Kregiel, Pawlikowska, & Antolak, 2018).

  • Nettles may provide benefits for reducing cardiometabolic risk factors, such as elevated glucose levels (Ahangarpour, Mohammadiam, & Dianat, 2012).


The list can indeed go on and on! Nettles are extraordinary!


Nettle infusions are similar to teas, except they steep for a more extended period. After steeping, you strain and consume. It has a lovely, earthy taste similar to green tea. To make a nettle infusion, simply measure out a ratio of 1:4 nettle leaf (in ounces) to hot water. Pour the boiling water over the nettle leaf and let steep for 4 to 12 hours. The longer the dried nettle leaves infuse in the water, the richer the nutrient content of the final product.



I used 0.5 ounces of dried nettle leaf with 2 cups of hot water for my infusion.


I drink anywhere from a quarter to a half cup a day. I keep it in an air-tight mason jar and store it in the fridge until it is gone, which is about three to four days. Nettle infusions are a water-based beverage, so shelve life is not very long. I would not recommend keeping it longer than five days, even if kept in the fridge. That is why I make smaller batches, personally. The serving sizes for people can vary. Drink what feels right to you, whether that be a shot glass full to a whole cup. Listen to your body to know if nettles are right for you.





References


Adhikari, B. M., Bajracharya, A., & Shrestha, A. K. (2015). Comparison of nutritional properties of Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) flour with wheat and barley flours. Food science & nutrition, 4(1), 119–124. doi:10.1002/fsn3.259


Ahangarpour, A., Mohammadian, M., & Dianat, M. (2012). Antidiabetic effect of hydroalcholic urticadioica leaf extract in male rats with fructose-induced insulin resistance. Iranian journal of medical sciences, 37(3), 181–186.


Kregiel, D., Pawlikowska, E., & Antolak, H. (2018). Urtica spp.: Ordinary Plants with Extraordinary Properties. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 23(7), 1664. doi:10.3390/molecules23071664


Meletis, C. D., & Zabriskie, N. (n.d.). Natural Approaches for Treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.


Nirumand, M. C., Hajialyani, M., Rahimi, R., Farzaei, M. H., Zingue, S., Nabavi, S. M., & Bishayee, A. (2018). Dietary Plants for the Prevention and Management of Kidney Stones: Preclinical and Clinical Evidence and Molecular Mechanisms. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(3), 765. doi:10.3390/ijms19030765

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