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Stinging Nettle Monograph

Scientific Name

Urtica Dioica (European Stinging Nettle)

Laportea Canadensis (Canada Wood Nettle)

Common Name

Stinging Nettle



Parts Used

Leaves, Roots, Seeds

Native To

Europe, Asia, North Africa

Geographic Distribution


Botanical Description

• Grows from dense networks of spreading rhizomes

• 3-7 feet in height

• Tough, fibrous stems

• Oppositely arranged, 2-3 inch long leaves have strongly toothed or

serrated margins (edges)

• Leaves can be lance shaped, oval, or heart shape

• Produces clusters of tiny green flowers in late summer

• Flower clusters hang down under the leaf pairs on the top half of the plant

• Seeds ripen in autumn and are green

• Entire plant is covered in stinging hairs

Key Constituents

Vitamins & Minerals: especially calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and vitamins A and C

Protein: one of the most abundant sources in the entire plant kingdom!

Acetylcholine: a neurotransmitter that is also found in humans

Formic Acid: the same acid in ant and bee venom, but in low does it is easily

metabolized by the body

Harvesting Guidelines

Leaf: Begin harvesting leaves when the plants are just a few inches tall and throughout the growing season. Using gloves grasp the top of the plant and cut the stalk just above the two lowest leaf nodes. After the plant flowers the minerals in Nettle become highly concentrated. It is best not to harvest Nettle after this point, especially for individuals prone to developing kidney stones.

Root: Dig dormant roots when the tops die back in early winter, before the ground is too hard.

Seed: Ripe (green) seeds can be harvested from late summer to early autumn.


Astringent (dries, tightens, puckers, tones tissues)

Diuretic (reduces swelling by expelling excess water from the body through

the kidneys and urinary tract)

Alterative (gradually brings the body back into optimal health and wellness

with regular use)

Inflammation-modulating (regulates and reduces inflammation)

Galactogogue (increases breast milk production)

Hemostatic (stops bleeding, coagulates blood)

Rubefacient (counter irritant)



Slight sweet




Video clip: Harvesting Canada Wood Nettle in Western Maryland

Nettle is a nourishing tonic that can be cooked and eaten in a wide variety of recipes or brewed into a cup of tea. It can also be powdered and added to soups and smoothies. It supports and energizes the entire body and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

The leaves and seed stimulate the kidneys, liver, and adrenals and aid in relieving gout, arthritis, rheumatism, and eczema. The root of Nettle is also indicated for the kidneys, as well as the urinary tract. Nettle is an astringent (drying, tightening) herb and is well known as a diuretic. Diuretics expel excess water from the body tissues, which can help in cases of edema (swelling). Diuretics are often prescribed along with a potassium supplement, because as fluids are leaving the body, the mineral potassium is also being lost. Interestingly, our friend Stinging Nettle already contains a high amount of potassium, which replaces the loss of potassium due to the diuretic effect!

Even though externally the sting of the Nettle causes and inflammation response, when taken internally, as food or tea, it calms and reduces inflammation in the body. Nettle is a wonderful plant to eat or take as tea or tincture to support recovery after an illness. Very often when we are sick we are not eating well and nettle can help to replenish nutrients and energy following an illness. Rich in iron, nettle has also been used to treat iron deficiency anemia, and it contains complimentary vitamins that

encourage your body to absorb iron more efficiently.

If you are pregnant, Nettle tea is wonderful support throughout a pregnancy. It is good for both the growing baby and the mom and continues to support the nursing mother, by increasing her milk supply, after the baby is born.

You may be afraid of Nettle’s sting, but its sting is part of the way people have used it for wellness! For centuries, Stinging Nettle has been used as a remedy for arthritis and to restore communication between the nerves. It is a rubefacient, or counter-irritant. Historically, people would intentionally sting or flog themselves with Nettle and the unique sensation of the sting would distract their brain from the pain they were in. It's been said that this use, as a pain reliever, is long-lived, lasting sometimes for days or weeks after the stinging subsides.

That said, if you are stung accidentally and want the sensation to go away, all you have to do is look around the Nettle patch for some Yellow Dock or Plantain. Dock often grows right next to Nettle and its juice will take away the sting! Amazing! What a marvel nature is. Every time I see Dock growing beside Nettle, I am in awe of the beautiful relationship between those plants and us humans!


In general, nettle is a very safe herb to consume. Make sure you are harvesting from a clean site, far away from conventional farms or industrial plants. Nettle easily absorbs and concentrates contaminants like chemical fertilizers in the same way that it concentrates beneficial minerals from the soil. Nettle seed can be over stimulating when taken in large doses.

**The content of this monograph is for educational purposes only. The author disclaims any liability in

connection with the use of this information. Ingesting wild plants is inherently risky. Plants can easily be

mistaken and every individual will vary in their physiological response to a plant that is touched or

consumed. Please do not attempt self-treatment of a medical problem without consulting a qualified

health practitioner.


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