Common Name: Stinging nettle
Scientific Name: Urtica dioica
Family Name: Urticaceae
Young leaves – cooked as a potherb and added to soups etc. Only use young leaves (see the notes above on toxicity) and wear stout gloves when harvesting them to prevent being stung.The young shoots, harvested in the spring when 15 – 20cm long complete with the underground stem are very nice. Old leaves can be laxative. A tea is made from the dried leaves, it is warming on a winters day. A bland flavour, it can be added as a tonic to China tea. The juice of the leaves, or a decoction of the herb, can be used as a rennet substitute in curdling plant milks.
A tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used as a cleansing tonic and blood purifier so the plant is often used in the treatment of hay fever, arthritis, anaemia etc. The whole plant is antiasthmatic, antidandruff, astringent, depurative, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic, hypoglycaemic and a stimulating tonic. An infusion of the plant is very valuable in stemming internal bleeding, it is also used to treat anaemia, excessive menstruation, haemorrhoids, arthritis, rheumatism and skin complaints, especially eczema. Externally, the plant is used to treat skin complaints, arthritic pain, gout, sciatica, neuralgia, haemorrhoids, hair problems.