Traditional names: stinging nettle, common nettle
The common nettle belongs to the genus of Urticales and to the family of Urticaceae. It is native to Eurasia, but abundant in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. It grows on wet and green areas, forest cuttings and waterside greenwoods, together with other weeds, next to human settlements, in rich and limy soil.
Nettle is a dioecious, perennial, herbaceous plant. Its long, cylindrical and branchy rhizome is tawny. The oval leaves are born oppositely on the stem, are heart-formed with a tapering peak and serrated margins. The stem and the leaves are covered by hair (trichomes) which causes a painful stinging sensation and small rashes when contacted by skin. The paniculate grow axillary to the leaves and on the top of the stem. In case of both, stamened and pistillate, the inflorescence is composed of green tepals. It blooms from May to the end of September. The fruit is oval and peaky with only one seed.
The nettle was first used as a fiber for weaving, just later as a medicinal plant. In graves revealed form the metal age there were found shrouds made of nettle. During wars, cotton was substituted by fabric made of nettle stem. The ancient Greeks used nettle externally for snake- and scorpion-bites, internally as a treatment for vegetal poisonings. Roman soldiers in cold areas used nettle to warm up their skin and body by beating themselves with fresh nettle and for treating joint gout. Medicine men in early Europe used nettle smoke against asthma.
The drug can be gained from the dried leaves (Urticae folium), sprout (Urticae herba), root (Urticae radix), and rarely from the fruit (Urticae fructus) of nettle. The leaves and the plant (the upper 30-40 cm) can be picked from spring to autumn. In order to gain drug, the leaves must be scarfed from the stem immediately. The roots can be dug out either in spring or in autumn.
The drug gained from the roots contains sterols, coumarin, tannins, lignan and phenylpropan-derivates. Nettle leaves and stem contain flavonoids, triterpens, sterols, vitamins (B, C, K, U), carotenoids, amino acids (histamine, serotonin, choline) and minerals.
The leaves and the plant are the mostly used drugs of nettle. It is used for inflammations of the urinary tract, in depurant diets, against goat and as an additional treatment for rheumatic pains. In traditional medicine nettle was also externally used: for instance in alcohol is used to rub the rheumatic body part or on head skin against dandruff or fat hair. Skin contact with the fresh plant was used against rheumatic pain and lumbago. The fruit of nettle was used exclusively in traditional medicine: as an unguent for rheumatic pains and skin diseases, or its oil internally as an invigorator. The drug of the roots is contained in several pills used against prostate problems.
Tea: Pour boiling water on 3 teaspoon of drug to gain one cup of tea, then strain it in 10 minutes. As an infusion of herb nettle has a wide use: general invigorator, depurant, diuretic, and its positive effect has also been proved in case of bladder inflammation, rheumatic pains, goat, skin diseases, hair loss, hypertension or gastritis. In spring is mostly used as part of a depurant cure, since it washes through the veins, the kidney and removes kidney sand and stones. It is also good to prevent the latter.
Bath: nettle bath is recommended for pimply skin. The hip bath is used for treating hemorrhoid and as a poultice for rash. Nettle infusion can be used externally against hair loss and dandruff or as a bath against rheumatic pains.
Unguent: nettle unguent made of the leaves has positive effects on eczematous skin.
Nettle has a main role in beauty salons. Young nettle leaves are used for facial steaming, while the cream made of them is a good skin cleanser. Especially for fat and scaly skin it is a very effective remedy. Through industrial methods there is chlorophyll extracted from nettle leaves, which is used as dye. Thanks to its silica content it strengthens the connective tissues, nails and hair-bulbs.
The young and fresh nettle leaves can be used for a vegetable-dish or offered as a side dish to meat menu. It is also good for animals.
Nettle is not recommended in case of edema due to inadequate heart- and renal insufficiency!