Spring is a wonderful season, full of hope for the summer to come. This year, more than ever, Spring is a season of hope!
Life Springs forward with green shoots!
Spring can offer some wonderful sunny days, little or no rain and gentle cool nights. The lengthening days coupled with mild weather provides perfect conditions for plants to grow and thrive. One plant that really thrives in Spring and is generally seen as a nasty weed, is the good old nettle.
Spring-time Nettles as friends
Nettles get a lot of bad press. We even use their name to suggest irritation when we say something left us feeling nettled! But lets take a closer look at this humble plant. It has some remarkable healing properties and health promoting qualities.
The health benefits of nettles
Stinging nettles have been used for health purposes for Centuries. There is some evidence that the Ancient Egyptians used the plant to treat arthritis and lower back pain and Roman soldiers used it to keep themselves warm – the stinging sensation generates heat.
Once you cook nettles they lose their sting. You can easily make them into nettle tea. Pick some young, bright green leaves and pop them into a pot of hot water. Let them brew for 5 minutes and then drink the liquid. It tastes pleasant and is a good way of getting the nutrients from the plant.
Health promoting properties of nettles
- The leaves are packed with nutrients. They contain
- vitamins; A,B, C and K
- minerals; calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium
- healthy fats
- There is some evidence that the plant may reduce inflammation and so be good for conditions such as arthritis
- Singing nettles have traditionally been used to treat high blood pressure. This might be because they contain nitric oxide which can relax and widen blood vessels. There needs to be more research in this area but if it worked for the Ancient Egyptians…..
- Another one that needs more research ….but studies have found that the plant can lower blood sugar levels. It contains a substance that mimics the effects of insulin so could be good potentially be good for treating high blood sugar levels
Although cooked nettles are safe to consume raw nettles have a nasty sting. Make sure you wear gloves when collecting fresh nettle leaves and don’t be tempted to try them raw! Processed and dried nettle supplements are available if you would prefer to avoid close contact with the raw leaves.
This Blog does not constitute or replace medical advice!
If you would like to know more about herbal medicine visit the National Institute of Medical Herbalists
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