Herb Library

Back to Herb Menu     Back to Index

DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

a.k.a Common nettle, Stinging Nettle
(Urtica dioica)
Also see: Blind Nettle and Dwarf Nettle

CAUTION! Always wear gloves when harvesting nettle. The sting of nettle can be mitigated by rubbing the rash with leaves of yellow dock. The irritant is formic acid which is borne in hollow little hairs with swollen bases - boiling the plant eliminates the irritant. Infusions of the plant should be well strained. Mature leaves are coarse, bitter and mildly laxative. AVOID WITH HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.

CONTAINS: Iron, calcium, sulphur, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, silica, essential trace elements. High in Vit. A, and C with 6.9 grams of protein per 3.5 oz. of greens.

PROPAGATION:By seed. Perennial. A common weed.
NEEDS Full sun to partial shade and fetile soil (presence of nettle signals a fertile soil).
HARVEST:The young plants. Dry the leaves in shade so green color is preserved.


Blood purifier, and diuretic.
Primary use has been for allergies (usually taken in capsule form).
Has been used for urinary problems and rheumatic problems.
Has been used for anemia, arthritis, food or pollen allergies, head and chest colds, relief of asthma and bronchial cough, hay fever, and prostratitis.
The tea with honey and lemon has been used as a stimulant.
Increases flow of milk in nursing mothers.
Makes an astringent gargle for sore throats and mouthwash for bleeding gums.
Tea has been used as a rinse for dandruff.
One source states it is useful to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels which is contrary to cautions given in other sources.

The juice cooked out of the leaves can be used as a rennet to curdle milk for cheese or junket puddings. A strong decoction of the leaves is also a substitute for rennet.
Used as an ingredient in beer making and soups.
Major commercial source of chlorophyll for coloring fats, oils, soaps, and foodstuffs.
Also used in wine making, cooked as a vegetablecasseroles, puddings, teas and incorporated into cheeses.
As a vegetable: harvest young tops with newest leaves; cover with water and stir with spoon til thoroughly washed; drain and drop into dry kettle; cook 5-10 minutes and do not overcook; drain well; add butter to skillet which has been rubbed with garlic; stir-fry till well coated.
Good salt substitute when dried.

As a hair rinse (especially for light hair): wash and dry nettle roots; soak 2 handfuls of roots in 2 quarts of cold water overnight; next day bring mix to a boil and then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes; strain roots; use remaining liquid as a hair rinse.

Will yield greenish yellow from the above-ground plant with an alum mordant.
Will yield yellow from the roots.

The fermented extract used as bug spray for black fly on beans. Water of fermented nettle is also used to control mildew.

FERTILIZER: Place nettles in a large container and cover with water; place cover on container and allow to 'steep' for a couple of weeks or less (it gets quite rank); use this 'tea', diluted, as a spray to enrich the soil before planting or after as desired.
OR: Soak a bundle of nettle in rainwater for 3 weeks; strain the liquid and use as a spray. Spread the decomposed sludge as a healthy mulch.

The seeds provide an illuminating oil.
Nettle provides fiber for twine, the weaving of cloth and paper making.
Nettles protect beehives from predation of frogs.

Nettle is excellent feed for livestock after being cut and dried.

(Urtica urens)

Same uses as Stinging nettle.
Shows some antibiotic affect against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Zulus used U. urens as an aphrodisiac.

a.k.a Dead Nettle, Dumb Nettle, Nettle Flowers, Snowflake, Stingless Nettle, White Archangel, White Nettle
(Lamium album)

Not a nettle, but a decumbent perennial member of the mint family. Native to Europe and Asia and found growing in gardens, waste places, roadsides, hedges, fences, walls and thickets, but naturalized in eastern North America. It grows from a horizontal, creeping rootstock to a height of 1 to 2 feet; stem is quadrangular and hollow, hairy, not much branched if at all, sometimes purplish in color; leaves opposite to 3" wide. petaled, ovate, serrate, and cordate, hairy on boths sides; flowers white, 2 lipped. Often planted as an ornamental groundcover.

FLOWERS: April to October
PART USED: Above ground plant and flowers; dried for use.


Styptic, antispasmodic, astringent, expectorant.
An infusion of the plant has been used for leucorrhea (douche), irregular menstruation, scanty menstruation. Infusion has also been added to bath for uterine cramps, boils and tumors. A poultice of boiled leaves and flowers has been used for tumors, boils, varicose veins, and pain of gout.
Infusion has also been used for stomach and intestinal problems.
Tea made from the flowers has been used for insomnia.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully.
INFUSION = 2 tsp dried herb and/or flowers with 1 cup boiling water; steeped 10 minutes; 1 to 1½ cup taken daily, a mouthful at a time.
POWDER = 1/4 to 1/2 tsp 3 times daily
FLOWERS = 30 to 60 grains
HERB = 60 grains

The stems have been used to slow/stop bleeding and as a vaginal douche in livestock.
For wounds, 1 handful of fresh herb is added to 1 cup water, steeped 10 to 15 minutes, then applied externally.

Young spring leaves were once added to salads

Bee plant

©2001 & 2004 by Ernestina Parziale, CH