The health benefits of herbs can be hard to get to grips with, as rarely do herbs alleviate solely one ailment. Science has studied the plant kingdom for centuries, mapping out cellular mechanisms, molecular actions and measurable effects. And yet there’s still a huge element of mystery and magic about herbs. And to the untrained individual, navigating the world of medicinal plants can be confusing. So we thought we’d start off nice and gently by looking at one in particular: nettle tea.
The easiest way to enjoy the benefits of herbs is by making an infusion
By far the easiest and most enjoyable way to extract the health benefits of herbs and spices is by making an infusion. A cup of tea, in other words. The leaves and flowers of a plant are submerged in almost boiling water for up to 20 minutes or more, drained and then consumed. With a dash of honey, if you like it sweet. Nettle tea is made exactly in this way. If you’re curious about the many ways in which you can use herbs (fresh or dried), we recommend Be Your Own Herbalist by Michelle Schroffro Cook.
Sting they might, but they make up for it in health benefits
Your earliest memories of nettle probably don’t involve a soothing cup of nettle tea. More likely they involve being outdoors and getting stung by stinging nettles. Well, at least in my childhood. It was a case of enduring the stingy, tingly burn or scrambling around trying to find a dock leaf to rub onto the affected area. (Until writing this post, I thought that a dock leaf was, in fact, a doc leaf. i.e. a doctor leaf, due to its palliative properties! Bless.) Anyway, despite their fierce tendencies while growing wild, nettles are a wonderful herb with an extensive list of healing attributes. And in fact, the sting of a nettle is said to relieve arthritic and joint pain when applied to the affected area.
Ironically, nettle tea is a good antidote to allergic reactions, including hay fever… despite the fact that the sting from a fresh nettle causes an allergic reaction on the skin! Its anti- inflammatory nature makes it a great soother of muscle and joint pain.
Before reaching for the prunes, have a cup of nettle tea
Life hack: a strong cup of nettle tea will relieve constipation. (I speak from experience here). A trick that works fairly quickly and that is much less taxing on the digestive system than laxatives. Nettle is also good for urinary tract and kidney health owing to its antimicrobial and diuretic properties. Good news for number ones and number twos.
Ward off osteoporosis with a regular nettle brew
When making a cup of nettle tea (or any tea), you’re probably not thinking about the vitamins and minerals you might be consuming. It’s just a bit of hot water, right? Actually, nettle has levels of protein and iron that match spinach, as well as containing magnesium, vitamins and calcium. And as we all know, calcium is oh-so-great for maintaining bone health.
Urtica dioica is good for both men and women’s health
Drinking nettle tea regularly can benefit both men and women. Nettle is a great herb for men as it supports prostate health (assuaging the symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia), boosts testosterone levels in the body and can improve libido. For women’s health, nettle is a great source of iron, modulates menstrual bleeding and will stimulate milk production in nursing mothers.
At Herbaceous Blends, we love nettle tea so much that we combined it with peppermint and lemongrass to make a bespoke blend that’s soft and cool at the same time. Yum! If you’d like to find out more about our Earthy mint nettle tea, visit the shop.