Nettle: Medicinal Properties And Contraindications, Cultivation And Use

The flowering plant nettle (Urtica) is a member of the nettle family. This genus includes more than 50 different species. In the wild, they can be found in temperate climates in both hemispheres. In the mid-latitudes the most widespread species are Nettle (lat. Urtica urens) and Nettle Devil (lat.

Urtica dioica), also called Stinging Nettle, Strelka or Strelka. The plants belonging to these species are very valuable medicinal and food raw materials, but also for the industrial-scale extraction of chlorophyll which is widely used in the pharmaceutical and perfume industries.

Nettle specifics

Nettle: medicinal properties and contraindications, cultivation and use

A perennial or annual plant like nettle can be either a dicot or a singleton. The entire, suposposely arranged leaf plates have a serrated, dentate or triple-stranded edge. There are often a large number of stinging bristles on the surface of the leaf laminae and shoots.

False spike-like inflorescences consist of staminate or pestiferous flowers. The fruit is a flat shaped compressed nut covered with a perianth.

The structure of the stinging hairs of this plant, which are rather large cells, is similar to that of a medicinal ampulla. They contain a sap which contains formic acid, choline and histamine. If you touch such a hair, its upper part breaks and pokes into the surface of the skin.

The juice trapped under the skin causes a sharp burn sensation only in the place that came into contact with the nettle. As a rule, such burns are not harmful to human health. However, there are several tropical species of nettles, the burns of which can be fatal for humans. In Russia, nettles prefer to grow near fences, in vegetable gardens, damp meadows, vacant lots, forest clearings, near roads, on the banks of ponds, in ditches, and in ravines. It has been known for a very long time that nettles have medicinal virtues.

This weed is cultivated both by home gardeners and in industrial scale.

Double and stinging nettle

Growing nettle

Nettle: medicinal properties and contraindications, cultivation and use

The nettle can grow quite normally without much care, but if planted in specially prepared and fertilized soil, its growth and development will be noticeably improved. Propagation of such a plant is made by seeds and cuttings of rhizomes. It is not necessary to prepare seeds before sowing, but if they are stratified for 4 weeks at 0-5° C, their germinating capacity will increase by 20-30%.

Horsetail, which is a perennial, is recommended to grow on a well-lit site or in the penumbra, ground should be sandy or nutritious and well moistened.

The plot should always be cleared of root weeds. Sowing should take place in early spring or in winter, and the first seedlings can already appear at an air temperature of 8 degrees. At first, the seeds are mixed with sand, and then deepened into the soil by 10-15 mm, the distance between the rows should be 0,6 to 0,7 m. The surface of the area with seeds should be covered with a thin (thickness of about 0.5 cm) layer of humus or peat, and if the sowing was made in early spring, until the first seedlings appear, you should watch that the soil is always slightly damp.

If sown in early winter, the first seedlings will appear in April, if spring, in May.

In order to propagate nettles vegetatively in the springtime, remove its rhizome from the ground and cut it into pieces which should be 8 to 10 cm long. The pieces are then planted in a new location to a depth of 8 centimeters, with a distance of about 0.6 m between the holes. Nettles propagated in this way will start budding 4 weeks earlier than those grown from seed.

Grooming for nettles

Nettle: medicinal properties and contraindications, cultivation and use

The first 2 months will be very weak and the growth and development will be very slow. But then the bushes will start to grow very fast and will soon become bushy and branchy. There is absolutely nothing difficult about caring for this plant. It should be provided with timely watering, loosening, fertilizing and weeding. Water from a spring, well or rainwater should be used for irrigation, but should be warmed up in the sun beforehand.

Nettles need plenty of nitrogen, but mineral fertilizers should not be used for nutrition. It is better to replace them with decomposed compost or manure.

The care of this plant is facilitated by the fact that it has a high resistance to pests and diseases. However, it may still harbor mottle caterpillars, which will have to be collected by hand in June. They are fairly easy to pick because they settle in clusters, but be sure to take precautions as nettles can leave severe burns on your hands.

Collecting and storing nettles

Nettle: medicinal properties and contraindications, cultivation and use

Nettles have rhizomes, seeds and leafy plates as medicinal raw materials. Nettles are harvested in June-September when the plants are in bloom. Some gardeners are advised to collect the leaves simply by wearing gloves, while others mow the grass, and when it is completely wilted, pluck the leafy plates with their bare hands. The best time to harvest leaves is believed to be at dawn on a Tuesday during the first quarter of the moon. According to the lunar calendars, such raw materials will have a special healing power.

Collected leaves should be placed somewhere in the shaded place (in the attic or under awning), spreading pre-prepared cloth or paper. Please note that the thickness of the layer should not exceed 3-5 centimeters. If they are dried in the sun, then part of the healing properties will be lost, and the leaves themselves will be colorless. They can be dried if desired in an oven, and you should set the temperature at 50 degrees and leave the door open. When they are completely dried, the middle veins and petioles will split apart easily.

They will have a slight aroma, a dark green color and a slightly bitter aftertaste. Note that the output of raw materials will be equal to 1/5 of the original volume. Dried leaves to be sorted, and you need to remove all the yellow, black and brown leaf blades, as well as trash. They are piled into bags of cloth or paper for storage, which should then be placed in a well-ventilated, dry, darkened place. Raw material can be stored for a maximum of two years.

Seeds of stinging nettles and nettle plants should be harvested only when they are fully mature. Usually it's about 20 days after flowering, in September. The nettle tops should be cut off, lightly dried and threshed.

Rhizomes of common nettles should be harvested in the spring or fall. Remove all dirt from them and then dry them at 40 degrees.

For storage should choose a dark, dry and ventilated place. Retain their useful qualities rhizomes for three years. If you are harvesting nettle rhizomes, then take into account that you will need to leave 10-15 percent of the bushes on the plot for renewal, because during the collection of raw materials you have to destroy the entire plant. It is important to know that it takes three years to regather nettles on a given site.

Nettle species and varieties with pictures and names

Nettle species with medicinal virtues:

Dick nettle

Nettle: medicinal properties and contraindications, cultivation and use

This grassy perennial has a strong root but its rhizome is horizontal and branchy.

The height of the shrub varies from 0.6 to 2 m. All parts of the plant above ground have stinging hairs on their surface. On elongated shoots there are straight or ascending hollow stems. Leaves are arranged crosswise in opposite directions.

The dark green simple entire equilateral leaf leaves have long petioles. They are about 17 centimeters long and about 8 centimeters wide. Leaves can be ovate-lanceolate, oblong or ovate-cordate, less often elliptical with a deep-cordate base. Pelk-like axillary inflorescences include small pistillate and staminate light-yellow unisexual flowers. The fruit is a compressed biconvex seed of pale brown or pale yellow color.

Approximately 22,000 seeds may ripen on one bush.

Stinging nettle

Nettle: medicinal properties and contraindications, cultivation and use

This annual herbaceous biennial has furrowed, tetrahedral upright shoots that can reach 15-35 centimeters in height, with glandular stiff hairs on their surface. The dark green, serrated, opposite-looking leaflets are oval or egg-shaped and reach 20-60 mm in length. They have a large number of stinging hairs on their surface. Small axillary flowers are green and either clustered in a spike or singly.

These flowers may be staminate or pistillate. The fruit is a nut or a multiseeded capsule.

Properties of nettles: Harms and Benefits

Healing properties

Nettle: medicinal properties and contraindications, cultivation and use

The leaf plates of nettles contain vitamins A, H, C, E and K, B1, B2, B4, B5, B6, B9, niacin, macronutrients chlorine, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, the trace elements copper, barium, aluminum, molybdenum, iron, zinc, selenium and manganese. Lemon contains a couple of times less ascorbic acid than nettle. However, the amount of vitamin A in this plant is somewhat more than in sea buckthorn, carrots, spinach and sorrel.

This plant also contains tannins, phytoncides, chlorophyll, flavonoids and organic acids - gallic acid and formic acid.

The leaves have a hypoglycemic and styptic effect, and it also fights inflammation. The leaves also help increase hemoglobin levels, uterine tone, and the number of red blood cells in the blood. This healing raw material is used to treat diseases of the bladder and liver, anemia, radiculitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, rheumatism and metabolic disorders in the body. Nettle has also proven highly effective in the treatment of non-infectious chronic prostatitis and prostate adenoma.

In alternative medicine, there are recipes for remedies that have laxative, diuretic, anticonvulsant, wound healing, expectorant and general tonic effect. If you use the leaves of this plant systematically, you can quickly get rid of not very large wounds and sores, while nettle infusion, used as baths, compresses and lotions, can save hair from loss. Since ancient times this plant has been used to treat hair, for this you need to combine 200 ml of just boiling water with 2 or 3 large tablespoons of dried leaves, after one hour the infusion must be strained. Nettle broth can also be used for this purpose. To prepare it, you need to combine 1 tbsp.

water, 1 big spoon of dried shredded rhizome and the same amount of dried leaves. Boil the mixture for 30 minutes and then cool slightly. It should be rubbed into the scalp, but it is not necessary to wash the hair after this, it is only lightly wiped with a towel.

This plant is also used to create a nutrient mixture, which is recommended to feed tomatoes. For this purpose, the healthy leaf plates and shoots should be cut off before the seeds form.

A large container is taken and filled with nettles, which are mixed with the remains of baked goods. As a result, the container should be filled only ¾ full. Then water is added to the mixture to dissolve the yeast, and the intended level must not be exceeded. A container is placed in a sunny place for 3-5 days, which will allow the mixture to ferment, and do not forget to stir it systematically. Nourish the tomatoes with this mixture once in 7 days.

The nettle soup is very popular. Pour olive oil into a frying pan and stew the nettle leaves and white onion in it for 7 min. Salt the water and boil potatoes in it, of which a blender is used to make a mashed potato. At the same time the container with potatoes is not removed from a small fire and gradually add cream, cow butter and milk to the mashed potatoes. Towards the end add the onion and nettle leaves, and stir everything together at a low heat.

You can add grated Gaudi cheese or sour cream to the soup, once it has been poured on a plate. For 1.5 kg of potato tubers you need 0.5 l of milk, 0.3 l of cream, 2 little spoons of cow butter and a bunch of fresh nettles.

The rest of the ingredients are put to taste.

Nettles - medicinal properties

Contraindications

Nettles and products made from them should not be used by pregnant women, especially in the last trimester. People suffering from thrombophlebitis should also avoid it.

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