30 Uses and facts of the humble nettle – Dave Hamilton

Dave, 09 October 2008, 2 comments
Categories: Food, Wild food
Tags: ,

A Nettle patch, but what are the uses?

Pick small nettles for food

Pick small nettles for food

The nettle is often shunned in the plant world. Most of us have at some point in our lives fallen into a nettle bed or at least been stung by it’s tiny needles. However it holds the crown of one of the most maligned yet phenomenally useful of all ‘weeds’. So in praise of the humble nettle I’ve put together a list of 30 uses and facts surrounding this king of all weeds.

  1. Rennet substitute when boiled in water with a high salt content.
  2. Fibres can be extracted to make cloth
  3. Liquid plant feed
  4. Compost activator
  5. Can be rubbed into leaky wooden crates
  6. Antidruff shampoo
  7. Green Dye – for food and clothes
  8. Insect repellent – a fresh sprig can be placed in food cupboards
  9. The roots boiled with alum will make a yellow dye
  10. Make a beer
  11. Protect beehives
  12. Facial steam for oily skin
  13. Treatment for kidney stones
  14. Dried to make tea
  15. Made into Nettle Soup
  16. Used instead of spinach in Nettle Lasagna or Canneloni
  17. High in iron
  18. High in tryptophan a pre-cursor to serotonin so acts as a natural anti-depressant
  19. Anti-asthmatic
  20. Can treat gout
  21. Treat rheumatism (if you can put up with the sting)
  22. High in vitamin C
  23. Source of Calcium
  24. Source of Magnesium
  25. Can be used to make paper
  26. Attract aphids so important for ladybirds
  27. Used by the German army in WW1 to make uniforms following a shortage of cotton
  28. Old leaves act as a laxative
  29. Important Habitat for tortoise shell butterfly
  30. The sting is administered by tiny needles all over the leaf which breaks the skin and releases formic acid – the same as an ant sting, it’s neutralized by cooking or drying the nettle.


2 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. matt
    18 June 2011, 1:58 pm

    how do you use the nettle to make it anti asthmatic?

  2. Dave
    19 June 2011, 1:07 pm

    Hello Matt – To be honest I wrote this so long ago I can’t remember where I got this information from. I found this link which might be of interest http://anniesremedy.mobi/herb_detail.php?oil_ID=107

    I’d suggest doing your own research when it comes things like this – Andy and myself are not trained herbalists or doctors but hopefully we do put out interesting lines of enquiry.

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