Stinging Nettle Tea: Benefits, Dosage, and Side Effects

stinging nettle tea
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Congerdesign

Since stinging nettles hurt when you touch them, you might be slightly alarmed by the notion of making stinging nettle tea. But when soaked in water or cooked, the leaves of the nettle plant lose their stinging chemicals, allowing them to be safely used for culinary or medicinal purposes. 

Stinging nettles are often seen as undesirable and invasive weeds, even though all parts of the nettle plant have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. Stinging nettle tea is most often used to treat urinary tract or bladder infections, but the medicinal benefits of the plant go much further.

Positive Effects of Stinging Nettle Tea:

  • May reduce inflammation, which can occur as a result of many different health problems and is extremely damaging to the body. 
  • Traditionally used to treat high blood pressure.
  • Helps treat pain associated with menstruation.
  • Natural treatment for hay fever.
  • Natural diuretic.
  • Supports immune system function.
nettles
Stinging nettles have a wide variety of health benefits. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Couleur)

How to Prepare and Dose the Tea

Preparation:

  1. Pour 1/4 liter hot water over about two heaping teaspoons of dried stinging nettle leaves. 
  2. Allow the tea to steep for about ten minutes. 

Dosing:

For a detox cleanse: Drink about 1/4 liter of stinging nettle tea each day for 4-6 weeks.

For inflammation: When the inflammation begins, drink a few glasses of stinging nettle tea throughout the day. You can stop the treatment as soon as the inflammation has gone down. In the case of a urinary tract or bladder infection, you should start drinking stinging nettle tea at the first signs of discomfort. It is always best to seek immediate medical assistance from your doctor, to prevent the infection from spreading.

Skin treatment: Because of its anti inflammatory and astringent properties, stinging nettle tea can also be used to treat acne, psoriasis and dermatitis, as well as itchy skin. Simply wash the affected areas with the (cooled) steeped tea leaves. 

Stinging Nettle Tea Is Not Just For Bladder Infections

harvesting nettle leaves
Stinging nettle tea has been used for medicinal purposes for generations. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Couleur)

The medicinal properties of stinging nettle have been known since ancient times. You can use it as a home remedy for bladder infections or as anti-dandruff and growth-encouraging soap. And thanks to high amounts of iron, calcium (six times as much as milk), vitamin A, magnesium and protein, stinging nettles have helped protect people from malnourishment in times of famine. 

How to Harvest Stinging Nettle Leaves

Stinging nettles grow practically everywhere: even in cities, it is often possible to find the plant growing in parks or gardens as a weed. Be careful not to harvest from areas that are close to busy streets or are frequented by dog walkers. 

  1. Time: The ideal time to harvest stinging nettles is spring time, when the leaves of the plant are still young, tender, and full of nutrients. Generally, harvest is possible between May and September. 
  2. Hand Protection: Stinging nettles are called ‘stinging’ for a reason: if you touch them with your bare hands, it will hurt. Be sure to wear heavy gloves when you are picking the nettle leaves so that you don’t get burned. 
  3. Cutting: The young, tender leaves near the top of the plant are best for culinary and medicinal purposes. After cutting, brush from the bottom of the stem up towards the top to get rid of the countless tiny stinging hairs on the plant.
  4. Dry: Tie all the stems together and hang to dry in a well-ventilated, low-humidity area until the leaves are completely dry. 
  5. Store: When the leaves contain no more moisture, pick them off the stems and store in a tea can. 

Side Effects of Stinging Nettles

Stinging nettles are medicinal plants, and should be consumed carefully. It is important not to exceed four cups of stinging nettle tea per day, and it should not be taken for longer than four to six weeks. Too much stinging nettle can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, sweating and skin rash. 

Warning: Physicians are still debating, whether stinging nettle tea is safe to drink during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, be sure to do thorough research and decide with your doctor whether or not stinging nettle tea is right for you. 

This article has been translated from German to English by Christie Sacco. You can read the original version here: Brennnesseltee: Einfache Zubereitung, große Wirkung

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