Herb Profile: Stinging Nettles

Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica 

Nettles are found all over the world and are especially common on damp and nutrient-rich soil. It is one of the plants highest in proteins and helps all protein pathways in the body – digestion, immune response, liver metabolism, skin reactions and kidney elimination. Nettles are rich in chlorophyll, iron, calcium, potassium, silicon, magnesium, manganese, zinc, chromium and vitamins A, C, K and is an excellent nutritive tonic.

Nettle has many uses and helps alleviate chronic skin conditions (like eczema, hives or acne) and alleviates the symptoms of PMS and menopause. It is useful for the genitourinary system, strengthening weak kidneys and helpful for liver issues. Frequent use of the infusion helps to stabilize blood sugar, reduce fatigue and exhaustion, eliminate chronic headaches and restore adrenal potency to lessen allergic and menopausal problems.

Stinging nettle has hairs that are actually phytohypodermic needles that inject irritating formic acid into the skin on contact. The hairs are disarmed by a quick steam or blanch in water.

Nettle can be prepared as food or medicine by cooking, drying or tincturing. Nettles can be made into a spring greens soup, cooked like spinach or blended into a pesto. We at Sawmill like using dried nettles all season long for teas and infusions.



Nettles is like land seaweed, deeply nutritive and mineral rich. Use fresh in cooking (cooking deactivates the stingers) or dry to as a spice on salads, potatoes or in soups. The fresh and dry herb make a nourishing tea, especially if the dry leaf is infused for 6-8 hours or more making the water almost black. As a mineral rich plant nettles makes an excellent vinegar, as vinegar is ideal for extracting minerals.

Fresh nettles is also well preserved as a tincture and taken as a daily tonic.

Spring Greens Frittata (from Jade Alicandro Mace of Milk & Honey Herbs)

8 eggs
1/2 c milk of choice (I used coconut)
2 cups spring/wild greens (choices are numerous- roughly equal parts nettles, dandelion greens, chives)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

To make: Sauté the greens for 3-4 min (add extra garlic if desired), then set aside. In a bowl mix eggs (lightly) and then add the milk. Add the greens to the egg/milk mix. Put a cast iron deep dish skillet on the stove and warm 2 tbsp ghee in it, then add the egg/greens mix and cook on medium for 5-7 min until it sets. Then put it in the oven at 350 to cook an additional 15-18 min. Enjoy!

Stinging Nettle Hair Tonic (courtesy of Healing Wise by Susun Weed)

Pour boiling water over 1/2 oz dried nettle (leaf, stalk and/or seed) in jar, cover tightly and let sit overnight. Next morning, strain into a jar and add 1 tablespoon of nettle tincture (optional). Keeps only a day or two. Use as a final rinse after shampoo and conditioner, leaving it in the hair. Helps to thicken hair texture, promote healthy, shiny hair and eliminate dandruff.



Nettles is safe to use as medicine but take caution when picking the fresh plant as its little hairs will sting and may leave mosquito like bites. These will go away after a few hours or a few days. Sensitivities differ, in fact some embrace the stings as a therapy. Using gloves will minimize if not eliminate contact with the stinging hairs.



The information on this page has not been approved by the FDA. Please consult your healthcare practitioner before using herbal products. We do not endorse the websites linked to in the resources and have not extensively reviewed all the information on external pages for accuracy. Everyone reacts differently to herbs and we do not attempt to be completely inclusive in the information and contraindications for each herb.