Nettle Tea Benefits
Who would have thought that the Nettle, the plant we all love to hate, could offer outstanding Nettle Tea benefits? Before anyone thinks otherwise, we’re, indeed, talking about stinging nettle benefits - as in the nettle that stings. But what is Nettle Tea good for? And more to the point, how do we avoid the searing, burning pain of its sting?
This blog will answer your searing, burning questions. It will delve deeper into the medical benefits of Nettle Tea; explain how to make Nettle Tea; and discuss the possible Nettle Tea side effects. Read on to find out more about this delicious, wholesome, beneficial Herbal Tea.
What is Nettle Leaf Tea?
Nettle Leaf Tea contains no leaves from the Camellia sinensis (Tea) plant. This means that it is not technically a Tea in the conventional sense. Nevertheless, the global Tea Industry has long “adopted” herbal beverages such as Nettle Tea as ‘honorary’ Teas.
Though cursed by hikers, gardeners and children alike, the perennial, flowering Urtica dioica plant has earned its place in the world. It belongs to the Urticaceae family and now flourishes nearly everywhere except the Arctic, the Antarctic and Africa. It also doesn’t grow in the US state of Hawaii, despite its prevalence across the rest of the USA.
Within the Urticaceae family, there are three main genera. Of the Urtica genus, there an estimated 80 species. In the British Isles alone, there are three known species of the nettle plant. These are Urtica dioica (Common Nettle), Urtica urens (Dwarf Nettle) and Urtica pilulifera (Roman Nettle). We use the Common Nettle when it comes to our Nettle Leaf Tea.
The name “Nettle” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Noedl”, which means “needle. This likely came from the ‘needle-like’ pain of the plant’s sting. The name “Urtica dioica”, meanwhile, is twofold: “Urtica” derives from the Latin words for “sting” or sometimes “burn”. “Dioica” means “two houses”. This term refers to the way in which male and female flowers grow on separate nettle plants.
These flowers bloom between July and September. The plant itself consists of a hairy, single stalk with deeply serrated leaves of dark green on top and of pale green on the underside. It grows to heights of up to 1.2 metres (4 feet). The size of the leaves averages at 15 centimetres (approx 6 inches). Underground, the plant has a yellow rhizome found very near the surface of the soil.
Why Do You Get Stung by the Stinging Nettle?
This plant has developed hollow hairs stiffened by silica with a swollen base that contains three chemicals. These are histamine, which irritates the skin; acetylcholine, which causes a burning sensation; and serotonin, which enables the two other chemicals to react.
The tip of these chemical-filled hairs are very brittle. When brushed against, no matter how lightly, they break off, exposing a sharp point that penetrates the skin. This ensures that the nettle has suitable protection against grazing animals (and indeed, humans).
Despite this, the leaves play host to over 40 species of insects that are immune to the sting. This includes many butterfly and moth species. When it comes to butterflies, in particular, species include the Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta; the Small Tortoiseshell Aglais urticae (note the Latin name); the European Peacock Aglais io; and the Comma Polygonia c-album.
When it comes to moths, it includes the Burnished Brass Diachrysia chrysitis; the Spectacle Abrostola triplasia; and the Nettle Top Anthophila fabriciana (again, note the latter name).
How to Make Nettle Tea
One may decide to make their own Nettle Tea from nettles in the garden. To do this, all one needs to do is harvest the leaves; place them in a saucepan; add water, then boil. During the process of boiling the leaves, they lose their sting.
While it sounds easy enough, it’s important to note that one can easily get stung before boiling the leaves. For this reason, we recommend buying Nettle Leaf Tea from The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.
This way, one avoids the risk of getting stung because we get rid of the sting for you! We pack every Tea, Tisane and Coffee fresh to order, ensuring quality and consistency every time. This is yet another reason to choose us over nettles found in the garden.
The History of the Nettle Plant and Nettle Tea
“I have eaten nettles, I have slept in nettle sheets, and I have dined off a nettle tablecloth. The young and tender nettle is an excellent potherb. The stalks of the old nettle are as good as flax for making cloth. I have heard my mother say that she thought nettle cloth more durable than any other species of linen.”
This is a quote from the Scottish poet, Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), who was one of many to recognise the versatility of the nettle plant. From Teas to table clothes; uniforms to fishing lines, Nettle benefits extend not only to the medical world, but also the world as a whole!
Ancient and Mythological History
Archaeological digs have discovered light nettle fibres in Denmark dating back to the European Bronze age (circa 2300 - 1200 BCE). These fibres, when dried and pounded, were extracted from the plant’s stalk, twisted into rope, and used to produce cloth. This is very similar to fabrics made from flax or hemp.
In the ‘New World’, the Winnebago, coastal Salish, Omaha, Cupeño and Menominee Native American tribes wove many items of nettle clothing. They also used nettle to make fishing nets. In Cree folklore, the nettle was once golden with “shimmering leaves and a bright aura”. Legend has it that when the people refused to utilise Nettle benefits, the plant changed colour and grew stinging hairs to surprise and hurt the ignorant.
Other Native American tribes also applied Nettle benefits to their daily lives. The Lakota created a nettle root infusion to treat stomach pain. The Potawatomi made the brew to reduce fevers. Many other tribes enjoyed Nettle Tea benefits to purify the blood and the liver.
The highly-revered Greek physician, Hippocrates (circa 460 - 370 BCE), reported 61 herbal remedies that used nettle. One so-called ‘remedy’, however, was the practice of urtication. This involved lashing the body with nettles to treat fatigue and paralysis (er, ouch?).
Urtication took place during the Roman invasion of Britain in the 1st Century CE. Soldiers believed that stinging themselves with nettles stimulated tired, painful legs and aching backs after long marches through dismal British weather.
During the Second Century CE, Galen (129 - circa 210 CE) - another well-known Greek physician - recommended the use of nettle in his publication, De Simplicibus, as “a diuretic and laxative, for dog bites, gangrenous wounds, swellings, nose bleeding, excessive menstruation, spleen-related illness, pleurisy, pneumonia, asthma, tinea, and mouth sores”.
In Norse mythology, followers considered the nettle as sacred to their God, Thor. Families would throw plants into fires during thunderstorms to keep their homes safe from his lightning. Loki, God of mischief, also used nettles to make fishing nets.
In Buddhist tradition, the Tibetan Siddha named Milarepa once roamed the land in search for the perfect meditation spot. Eventually, he came to rest in a white rock cave with a stream of good water and a patch of stinging nettles. From these nettles, he made cloth to cover his body and flour for his inner nourishment. As time went by, his skin turned green from his constant use of nettles.
Understanding of Nettle benefits developed further through the 17th Century English botanist, herbalist and physician, Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654). He recommended combining nettle with honey as a gargle for throat and mouth infections. He also claimed that nettles showed promise against “bladder stones or gravel, worms in children” and were “an antiseptic for wounds and skin infections, gout, sciatica, joint aches, and as an antidote to venomous stings from animals”.
The use of nettle as a versatile fabric diminished significantly with the rise of cotton. This was because cotton was easier to harvest and spin. Nettle as a fabric saw a brief revival among the Central Powers during the First World War (1914-1918) when the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires ran short of cotton due to the conflict.
In 1915, Germany collected 1.3 million kilograms of nettles for fabric. This increased the following year to 2.7 million kilograms. It was mixed with 10% cotton and used for underclothing, cloth, stockings and tarpaulins. In 1916, Allied forces noted that two captured German overalls contained 85% nettle material!
The Second World War (1939-1945) also saw another revival in nettle fabric, this time among the Allies. The British government ordered the collection of 100 tonnes of nettles to manufacture green dye for camouflage.
Today, we use nettles less for military equipment and more for Nettle Tea benefits. In fact, modern science has long recognised Nettle Tea health benefits, and how they can improve one’s everyday way of life.
Nettle Leaf Tea Benefits
Nettle Leaf Tea contains a multitude of vitamins, minerals and other antioxidants. This includes:
Indeed, this is just to name but a few. Combined, these components can combat free radicals in the body, the product of natural, though harmful, human oxidation. This, in turn, can lead to reduced risks of developing numerous chronic conditions, though namely cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. But that’s not all this Tea can do.
Drinking just 3 cups of Nettle Tea is all you need. From here, one can improve their everyday way of life in a manner of ways. Let’s find out more.
Nettle Tea Hayfever
In one preliminary human-based study published by the University of Maryland Medical Center, researchers suggested that nettle capsules helped reduce itching and sneezing in participants with hay fever. In another study, 57% of test subjects rated nettles as effective in relieving their allergies, while 48% considered nettles more effective than some allergy medications.
And that isn’t the only allergy this Tea can tackle. Bewilderingly, it is also an antidote to its own sting! We’re told as children to use dock leaves when stung by a stinging nettle. However, there is another option in the form of this delicious Herbal Tea.
Although the nettle sting is highly irritant, once boiled and dried to neutralise the acid, the leaves act as a natural antihistamine. This is in addition to its anti-asthmatic properties, according to the latest scientific research.
Nettle Tea Kidney Function
“Nettle is diuretic, it increases urine output and removal of uric acid,” says naturopath, Dr Robert Kachko. Many people in the west, particularly among the elderly, suffer from Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BHP). In its most severe cases, BPH can lead to infection, bladder damage or, indeed, kidney damage. It can also cause symptoms such as frequent urination, the inability to urinate and loss of bladder control.
In clinical trials held at the University of Medical Sciences in Iran, Nettle Tea reduced symptoms associated with BHP. It saw 287 patients given nettle over six months. Following this, subjects said they noticed a significant improvement in their symptoms.
Nettle Tea for kidney pain, in general, is a good choice, also. Many drink it for Nettle Tea kidney stones benefits. This is again because of its diuretic nature.
Nettle Tea and Improved Blood Circulation
Iron is the most crucial component of Nettle Tea when it comes to improving blood circulation. With such high levels found in this beverage, it is no surprise that it can aid in alleviating anaemia and even general fatigue.
It also contains a considerable amount of potassium, a mineral known to reduce tension in the arteries and blood vessels. Ultimately, this reduces the risks of heart attacks and strokes, albeit only minimally. We await further research before endorsing Nettle Tea for improved blood circulation. However, we support ongoing research.
Nettle Tea and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The health benefits of Nettle Tea go further still thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation can affect many parts of the body, including the cardiovascular and digestive systems. Most notably, inflammation can worsen arthritis. Could Nettle Tea be the answer? Maybe.
A German study established that an extract of nettle leaves, known as hox alpha, can suppress several cytokines in inflammatory joint diseases. This includes arthritis. Furthermore, a 2013 study published in Phytomedicine found that stinging nettles, including the root, can reduce inflammation.
When it comes to skin health, the anti-inflammatory properties of this Tea can reduce acne, eczema and skin blemishes.
Additionally, Nettle Tea has anti-microbial, antiulcer and analgesic properties. It can aid with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) while relieving constipation, diarrhoea and other stomach-related issues.
Where Can I Get Nettle Tea?
The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, as you may already know, stock our very own Nettle Leaf Tea. We have long seen its potential, and now hope that you do, too!
So, what are you waiting for? Try our Nettle Tea today!