Nettles make for a nourishing and cleansing tea

On my way to school one morning in Vancouver, cutting through a back alley, I noticed them. The unruliest crop of nettles I had ever seen.

On my way to school one morning in Vancouver, cutting through a back alley, I noticed them. The unruliest crop of nettles I had ever seen. Like green gargoyles they protected a black iron fence which separated the alley from an immaculate green lawn. “Ah, ha, another use for nettles,” I thought. Cheaper than feeding a watch dog, no worrying about neighbours complaining about barking and no unsightly brown spots sprouting the sprawling green grass. The bite of nettles would stop any trespasser from popping over the fence.

The Romans found medicine in nettle’s bite. In their cute military skirts or wrapped in bed sheet togas, they enthusiastically flailed aching joints with nettles. This calmed the pain of arthritis. Or perhaps nettles sting is worse than the chronic ache and they were distracted by the blossoming red rash. In our time, herbs in this manner are called rubefacients. However today, rubefacients are usually administered as a poultice or ointment and without the drama of self-flagellation. Two popular ones are cayenne pepper and horseradish.

In my practice, most people are given nettles as part of their tea. However, it is not the tough, biting mature nettles that I use; it is the young, bright green, tender shoots. Collecting the young nettles shoots still requires gloves and long sleeves, but once dried the sting is gone.

Steaming the young shoots, like spinach, also deactivated the bite. Steamed nettles with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese is delicious and an intense experience of chlorophyll. If you do get stung will collecting nettles, a spit poultice of plantain or yellow doc leaves will relieve it.

Dried nettles make a nourishing and cleansing tea. Nettles are high in iron, Vitamin C, K, zinc, selenium, foliate, calcium, beta-carotene, potassium and more. But best of all, they taste good as a tea and are a cheap and easily accessible multi-vitamin with guaranteed bioavailability.

Nettle clears up skin. It gently cleanses the body, easing the skin’s role in removing toxins from the body. This in turn is healing to eczema, psoriasis and acne. If you don’t have a skin condition, Nettles will give your skin a healthy glow and helps make you hair shiny. Not to mention it strengthens nails.

The detoxifying effect of Nettles also helps relieve chronic muscle and arthritic pain. It is a traditional remedy for gout.

Nettles are considered a kidney tonic. Drinking nettle tea, improves urine flow while reducing frequency and having to get up in the night. This effect is very useful in relieving swollen prostates. The root of nettles are the key plant part here.

Nettles will draw excess fluids from other parts of the body reducing bloating and water retention. For this reason it is essential in PMS and weight loss teas.

The vitamin K content reduces heavy flow.

Nettles have much to offer pregnant women. First Nations drank nettles during pregnancy as a deeply nourishing tea. Taken before labour, nettles reduce bleeding. Drinking the tea while nursing enriches breast milk.

Nettles are natural anti-histamines and bring relief to those suffering with hay fever. The best way to take nettles to relieve allergies is in freeze-dried in capsules. Getting the freeze dried nettles in capsules is a tricky undertaking. But it works for 70% of folks without drowsiness or suppressing the immune system.

The great Tibetan yogi Milarepa, while spending years in solitary meditative retreat in caves scattered through the Himalayans, lived for many years on nettle soup as his only source of nutrient. Nettles strengthened his body and mind during his quest for enlightenment. As a matter of fact, he ate so many nettles; Tibetan artists render him with a green twinge to his skin.

Its hard not love Nettles once you get beyond their prickly external nature. Once understanding the in workings of this weed with its deep, sprawling roots, you find sweet nourishment.

Herbs for Life is written by Abrah Arneson, a local clinical herbalist. It is intended for information purposes only. Readers with a specific medical problem should consult a doctor. For more information, visit Arneson can be reached at

Just Posted

Red Deer group looking to keep roads safe for cyclists

A Red Deer cycling group is concerned about road safety after multiple… Continue reading

Smoke and pets do not mix

Take care of your pets during the smoky weather

Former Red Deer lawyer sentenced

Charges included possession of stolen property

Man causes mischief with axe in Ponoka

Arson and attempted break and enter charges laid

WATCH: Raising money for kids at the Gord Bamford Charity Golf Classic

Former NHL players, Olympians, pro rodeo circuit members and musicians teed off… Continue reading

Oilpatch fears delays as U.S. judge orders further review of KXL pipeline route

CALGARY — Potential delays in the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline… Continue reading

‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin dies at 76

NEW YORK — Aretha Franklin, the undisputed “Queen of Soul” who sang… Continue reading

Arrests in Burnaby, B.C., as order against Kinder Morgan protest camp enforced

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters Thursday as officers enforced a… Continue reading

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

BRITT, Ont. — From a helicopter flying over a smouldering swath of… Continue reading

Calgary Fire Department logs record opioid overdose calls in July

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says there were a record number… Continue reading

RCMP in Burnaby, B.C., say Kinder Morgan protest camp to be dismantled

BURNABY, B.C. — The RCMP arrested protesters when officers enforced a court… Continue reading

Study: Smokers better off quitting, even with weight gain

NEW YORK — If you quit smoking and gain weight, it may… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month