Stinging nettle: Effects, Composition, Use And Recipes

The beneficial effects of stinging nettle on health have been used since ancient times, although from a botanical point of view it is an ordinary, abundantly growing weed. It benefits the health of joints, blood vessels, skin and hair. It refreshes the body, supports vitality and strengthens immunity. What do you know about it, where it grows and how to use it correctly?

What is nettle dioecious 

Stinging nettle is a hardy perennial herb known mainly for its prickly leaves with stinging hairs that cause unpleasantly itchy pimples when they come in contact with the skin. Although it is perceived as an unwanted weed that grows everywhere, in ditches, along roads and forests, between trees, in corners and in meadows and near old walls, it is also a traditional medicinal herb and food .

In the Middle Ages, they were used to treat rheumatism. A rather harsh procedure of whipping the body with freshly plucked nettles promoted blood flow to the joints. Today it is used more as a spring herb in the preparation of medicinal teas , or like other spring herbs it is added to healthy spring dishes . In the past, it was also used to feed cattle, and brewers added it to beer to prevent it from going sour in the summer. 

Composition and effects of nettle on health

The active substances contain all parts of the nettle: rhizome, stems, leaves, flowers and seeds . 

Content of active substances:

vitamins : A , C , B and K (vitamin C supports the absorption of iron),

minerals : magnesium , calcium , iron , phosphorus , potassium , sulfur, silicon , iodine , manganese , zinc and others,

acids: citric, fumaric, caffeic, silicic, formic, acetic, oleic, pantothenic, oxalic,

natural antioxidants : carotenoids and flavonoids,

other: natural green dye chlorophyll, serotonin, histamine, tannins, lecithin.

In addition, it contains substances that can lower the level of blood sugar (glycemia), which is why the consumption of “Zahavka” is also suitable for diabetics.

DO YOU KNOW WHY NETTLE BURNS? The hairs on the nettle leaves contain a stinging secretion that causes a slight burn and a rash that resembles an allergic reaction when it comes into contact with the skin. Nettle contains histamine, which is a substance that causes allergic reactions. Cold water helps. This side effect gave rise to the popular name of hives.

The most frequently mentioned beneficial effects of nettle on health:

  • has a positive effect on the overall state of the organism ,
  • contributes to the normal functioning of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems ,
  • strengthens natural defenses (immunity),
  • supports the health of bones, joints, hair and nails ,
  • can promote wound healing and prevent dandruff in the hair ,
  • supports the excretion of water from the body and supports natural detoxification,
  • supports blood purification, thanks to the iron content it supports hematopoiesis ,
  • can also help as a prevention of frequent colds in the spring,
  • helps maintain normal kidney, urinary tract and prostate function in men, relieves menstrual pain and spasms in women,
  • maintains normal blood glucose levels and normal blood pressure,
  • is beneficial for the activity of the digestive tract , supports the movement of the intestines and microflora,
  • has antibacterial and antiseptic effects ,
  • contributes to maintaining vitality, mental balance and refreshes the body,
  • can help increase intellectual activity and the ability to concentrate .

It helps with joint pain and osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a disease that is manifested by pain in the joints, most often in the hands, knees, hips and spine. Patients must take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

Applying nettle leaves to the affected areas can reduce joint pain. It has anti-inflammatory effects and supports healing. The effects of nettle on inflammation and painful joints are also confirmed by some scientific studies .

It can reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate in men

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is manifested by an increased need to urinate, a slower flow of urine and pain during urination. The cause is an enlarged prostate that presses on the urethra. According to scientific studies , nettle can relieve symptoms. For the same reason, it is also used for inflammation of the bladder.

It relieves the symptoms of hay fever, allergies and eczema

The anti-inflammatory effects of nettle are used for allergies caused by pollen or dust, which are manifested by watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing and possibly an itchy rash. The effects against hay fever and allergies have been confirmed by some foreign studies . It can also help fight eczema when administered topically or orally. 

It acts as a strong antioxidant

Nettle contains vitamins A, B, C, K, minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium, as well as amino acids, polyphenols and other active substances that have antioxidant effects and thus protect cells from oxidative stress and damage by free radicals . One study claims that taking nettle extract increases the amount of antioxidants in the body.

It helps reduce high blood pressure and blood sugar levels

High blood pressure is one of the widespread diseases of civilization today. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke. Stinging nettle contains calcium channel blockers , which relax the heart by reducing contractions.

Nettle contains compounds that have a similar effect to insulin. According to some animal studies, it can help lower blood sugar levels . But this does not mean that nettle would fully replace insulin. However, it can support the treatment of diabetes.

It supports digestion and helps with weight loss

Nettle is among the herbs recommended for weight reduction, as it helps digestion and supports bowel activity. Like nettle, black elder and fennel, nettle has detoxifying, diuretic or slightly laxative effects and stimulates metabolism in the body .

You can include nettle in a reducing and healthy diet. However, don’t expect nettle tea to lead to miraculous weight loss. You should follow a healthy lifestyle and take nettle only as a supplement that can support your weight loss .

It benefits the skin, hair and nails

Nettle is also added to cosmetic products, especially shampoos, hair masks and serums. Thanks to its high mineral content, it benefits the health and appearance of the skin, hair and nails. Also supports the health and vitality of the hair and scalp. 

Enhance the color of dark hair, promotes hair growth and is used to prepare a bark against hair loss . It has anti-inflammatory effects. In the form of lotion, it can support the fight against acne and eczema.

Decoction of nettles for hair against hair loss

At home, you can prepare a decoction of fresh nettles, which you can use to rinse your hair or rub your scalp. 

Raw materials:

  • 100 g of chopped nettle
  • 1 l of water acidified with vinegar


Finely chop or slice the nettle and boil it in water for 30 minutes. Let it cool and rinse your hair with the lukewarm decoction as part of your evening wash. Use the decoction for 3 weeks.

Nettle anti-acne lotion

Raw materials:

  • a handful of fresh nettle leaves
  • 200 ml of boiling water


Pour boiling water over the nettle leaves, cover and leave to infuse. Strain the cooled infusion into a glass and store in the refrigerator, where it will last for up to 5 days.

Nettle and possible negative effects

Stinging nettle is one of the herbs with the strongest effects. In normal doses, it does not have adverse effects. However, it should not be used long-term, excessively and ideally only when the body needs it. Nettle is a strong herb and is not intended for long-term use.

For which people nettle is not suitable at all

Due to its histamine content, nettle is not suitable for people suffering from allergies or histamine intolerance. 

Usage and recommended dosage of nettle 

Don’t overdo it with nettle tea. Drinking nettle tea is recommended 2 to 3 times a day, no more. An excess of this herb can be more harmful than beneficial in some cases.

Try replacing your regular tea with an infusion of fresh nettles and supplement your body with vitamins, minerals and other valuable substances. Also try other nettle recipes . From spring, you can collect it yourself at the edges of the forests and save on often unnecessarily expensive food supplements.

Recommended dosage: In larger quantities, it can be consumed as food, similar to other herbs. The medicinal dose of nettle in the form of tea is 28 grams (approx. 2 cups of dried leaves) per day, or tincture 3 to 5 ml three to five times a day.

Collection of stinging nettles

The fresh top parts of the plants are mainly collected: the stem with the leaves . The best time to collect nettles is early spring from March, when they start to grow, until May . You can collect them until the end of September before the first frosts. 

As a rule, collect nettles in the wild and in a clean environment away from agricultural fields and busy roads, away from railways and factories, where the soil is often full of nitrates. Nettles really thrive in such soil.

It is best to collect nettles in a sunny location in the afternoon around 2 p.m. , when it has the lowest content of nitrogenous substances. For medicinal purposes, experienced herbalists recommend collecting nettles before May 20 , as the amount of nitrogenous substances increases after this date.

The root or rhizome is harvested in early spring in March or in autumn in October to November and the seeds are collected in August.

Processing and further use of nettle

Nettle can be used fresh, but also dried , so that it can be consumed all year round and especially during the winter. You can use a dryer set to 60 °C to speed up the process. Let it dry in the shade and in an airy place. You can also freeze it or steep it in alcohol and make a nettle tincture from it.

In addition to the stems and leaves , other parts of the plant are used. A nettle root decoction is used externally to care for oily hair, and the root extract is suitable for gargling and rinsing the oral cavity. 

The seeds from the female parts of the plants are edible. You can recognize them by the spike-like inflorescences full of ripe seeds hanging down heavily. Edible seeds contain a lot of vitamins A, B, C, E, iron, potassium and calcium . You can add them to spreads, soups, salads or pickled in honey.

When preparing meals and cooking, you can use it in the same way as other spring herbs in stuffing, salads or soups. You can prepare spinach from it, or add it to pancakes and omelets. It can also be baked into savory pies or the dried leaves can be crumbled and sprinkled on foods just like parsley or chives.

6 reasons to include nettle in your diet:

  • Contains vitamins and minerals.
  • It is rich in antioxidants and amino acids.
  • Supports healthy digestion.
  • Detoxifies (cleanses) the organism.
  • Fresh taste of fresh nettles.
  • You can find it almost everywhere.

OUR TIP: Before eating, scald the nettles with hot water so they don’t burn you.

Tips for healthy recipes with nettle

Nettle tea

Most often, nettle is used to prepare a delicious and at the same time medicinal tea that cleanses the body .

Raw materials:

  • 2 teaspoons fresh or dried nettles
  • 250 ml of water

Cover the nettle leaves with hot water and let them infuse for about 10 to 12 minutes. Drink one cup of nettle tea 3 times a day for 3 weeks. Do not extend the length of the cleansing course or increase the daily dose.

Nettle wine

Raw materials:

  • 100 g of fresh nettle leaves
  • 20 g nettle seeds
  • 1 liter of red wine
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 300 ml of cognac


Heat the wine over a low flame and pour in the leaves, nettle seeds and pepper. Cover, remove from heat and let infuse for 8 hours. Then strain and add honey and cognac. Let it sit for another 24 hours. Store in the refrigerator for 8 days and consume in moderation. The wine is said to have mild aphrodisiac effects.

Nettle tincture

Raw materials:

  • 150 g nettle root
  • 1 liter of pure alcohol (30 to 40%)


Clean the root thoroughly with a brush and chop it finely. Put it in a bottle up to the neck and cover with alcohol. Let stand for 14 days in a warm place. This is how you can make a tincture from nati or seeds (same proportions).

Nettle syrup

Raw materials:

  • 250 g of fresh nettle nettle
  • ½ l of cold water
  • 500 g of honey


Chop the fresh fennel and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes on a low flame. Then set aside, cover and let infuse for 24 hours. The next day, drain, then squeeze and mix honey into the infusion. Store in a jar. 

Take 1 tablespoon daily to strengthen the immune system or for problems with an enlarged prostate. The duration of the treatment is a maximum of 3 weeks.

Nettle soup with bacon

Raw materials:

  • a bowl of nettle leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 50 g of bacon
  • 1.25 I of broth
  • salt pepper
  • 1 glass of cream
  • grated cheese for sprinkling


Cut the bacon into cubes and fry in oil. Cover it with flour and prepare the roux. Pour in the stock and cook. Add the washed and chopped nettle leaves and cook for another 10 minutes. Then pour in the cream, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with grated cheese and serve.

Final summary: Nettle is medicinal, but watch the amount and length of treatment

It is one of the best-known local herbs , which have relatively strong effects. If you use it as a medicinal natural remedy , pay attention to the recommended dosage , do not exceed it. 

However, you can use it as food as you like. You can make a healthy nettle soup, steamed spinach, stuffing or add it to the dough for savory pancakes, omelets and cakes from the leaves and stems . 

It will supplement the body with a lot of valuable substances that will support overall health , strengthen the immune system and cope with some health ailments.

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