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The Nutritious Stinging Weed

Nowadays, thanks to the recognized nutritional qualities of nettle (Urtica dioica), it is gradually becoming integrated into our diet. Who would have thought that nettle is richer in vitamin C than an orange? But it is! 

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food ~ Hippocrates

Nettle is also an important source of iron, calcium, magnesium and protein, much more than soybeans, making it an interesting addition to diets containing little or no meat at all and/or dairy products, such as vegetarian and vegan diets.

Stinging nettle can supply higher concentrations of essential amino acids than brussels sprouts and has a better amino acid profile than most other leafy vegetables. Although similar to spinach in terms of total amino acid content, nettle contains higher levels of all essential amino acids except leucine and lysine. 

Fortunately, nettle retains significant amounts of minerals, vitamins, and other functional values after blanching or cooking. Scientific results show that processed nettle can supply 90–100% of vitamin A (including vitamin A as ?-carotene). Fresh or processed nettle is recommended as a high-protein, low-calorie source of essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins particularly in vegetarian, diabetic, or other specialized diets.

They eat nettle as a leafy vegetable or a curry, sour soup, a potherb or spinach alternative and vegetable complement in a dish in many cultures. In the Basque region of Spain, young shoots are eaten raw or included in omelets. In Georgia, a meal of boiled stinging nettle seasoned with walnut is common. Romanians use sour soup made from fermented wheat bran vegetables and green nettle leaves harvested from young plants.

If you would like to know more about the nutritional properties of nettle, read this or this article.

Suggested food labeling information for raw and processed stinging nettle

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Detoxic Nettle

17th February 2021 Lent

Preparing for Easter is a good occasion to go on a diet or cleanse your system. Beginning today, on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities. Roman Catholic, Anglican, and some other churches hold special services today.

Orthodox Christians are supposed to eat vegetarian food during this season and among their most common dishes are some based on nettle (Urtica dioica). When it comes to fasting, it doesn’t mean we have to give up good food. Exactly the opposite! We have to be more aware of what we eat and how we prepare it.

Lent is an old English word meaning “lengthen”. Lent is observed in spring, when the days begin to get longer. Spring is the time for cleaning the house of your body, mind and spirit.

The baby leaves at the top of the plant have been used throughout history in food and drinks to nourish and detoxify the body in the spring. Used as a general tonic, nettle detoxifies the blood because of its diuretic properties. It can relieve fluid retention, bladder infections, stones and gravel. Nettle gently stimulates the lymphatic system, seeming to enhance the excretion of wastes through the kidneys. Leaves promote the elimination of uric acid from joints with a gentle, alkalising diuretic activity. Thus its use is indicated in most types of joint diseases and doubly so in degenerative conditions.

Detoxification can be on any level – a relationship that no longer serves you, negative thinking, addictive habits – anything that doesn’t support your health. A cup of nettle tea can help you clear out toxic influences that cloud your way.

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Nettle in Traditional Chinese Medicine

12th February 2021 Chinese New Year

The Chinese calendar follows lunar and solar cycles, meaning the New Year begins with the first new moon, after the Earth has made a full revolution around the Sun. This year, the first new moon appears on February 12th 2021, marking the end of the year of the Rat and the beginning of the year of the Ox, which is the second of all zodiac animals. In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal. Because of its role in agriculture, positive characteristics, such as being hardworking and honest, are attributed to it.

Based on a tradition of more than 2,000 years, among the 8,300 wild medicinal plant species native in China, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses nettle.  Known as Xun Ma in TCM, nettle is included in formulas that help open and dry the Lung, Liver, and Kidney meridians. Nettle helps to treat arthritic and rheumatic conditions with pain, stiffness and numbness of the bones, joints and muscles. Nettle has been long known for its capacity to treat skin eczema as well.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) leaves are “cold” in nature. This means that stinging nettle leaves typically help people who have too much “heat” in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM.

Stinging nettle leaves taste Bitter and Pungent. The so-called “five elements” theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing heat, drying dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients tend to promote the circulations of Qi and body fluids.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what organs and meridians they target. As such stinging nettle leaves are thought to target the Liver. Nettle is known for its ability to tonify blood. Knowing that the liver is a detoxification organ, you might think doing a liver cleanse with nettle could help your body.

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Did you know that nettle is the most studied medicinal plant worldwide?

The 4th February is World Cancer Day, that’s meant to raise awareness on the prevention and cure of the disease. Cancer is a group of diseases in which normal cells grow uncontrollably and abnormally, invade and spread to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, it is the second most frequent cause of death worldwide (after cardiac diseases).  Currently, a variety of treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery, as well as newer nanotechnology and gene silencing therapy, are used in the treatment of cancer, but cause many serious side effects and often may prolong life for only a few years.

In recent years, many researchers have analysed natural products for cancer cure and prevent cancer development.  Plants are a precious source of anti-cancer agents. 

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is  a commonly used edible plant since ancient times. Did you know that nettle is the most studied medicinal plant worldwide?

Stinging Nettle has anti-cancer properties

Various studies have recently demonstrated the cytotoxic and anti-cancer properties of nettle, in particular against colon, gastric, lung, prostate and breast cancers.  The anti-cancer ability of nettle extracts provide a promising chance for the use of nettle as a nutraceutical food for the prevention and treatment of several cancers. Nettle extracts reduced adverse effects and ameliorated the efficacy of cancer chemotherapies. Stinging nettle may exert biological anti-cancer activities through various mechanisms of actions, including antioxidant and anti-mutagenic properties, induction or inhibition of key processes in cellular metabolism and ability to activate the apoptotic pathways. Beneficial compounds from nettle are used in the production of different modern anti-cancer drugs.

Don’t forget to drink a cup of nettle tea every day. “A cup of nettle a day keeps the doctor away.”