Growing out one’s facial hair for 30 days is called “Movember” or “No-Shave November,” and it’s meant to raise awareness worldwide for men’s health: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Men are dying too young. Let’s bring a change!
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. It is commonly used as a diuretic to rid the body of excess water and to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. The roots have different pharmacological effects than the leaves. Because nettle root can alter the menstrual cycle and may contribute to miscarriage, pregnant women should not use nettle root.
Nettle root is used widely to treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and for reducing enlarged prostate, prostate cancer prevention, and helping urination in older men. For this use, the roots should be harvested in late fall.
How to harvest nettle roots sustainably?
The roots are found in two layers. Young roots that become next year’s crop will be on the soil surface. The thicker roots below are the ones that should be harvested. If you are lucky, the loose soil allows nettle roots to be pulled up easily. If not, use a spade to dig them out. Harvest no more than 1/3rd of the roots in any given area. This will ensure that next year’s harvest will be just as plentiful as this year’s. Settle the ground back after harvest to leave it undisturbed.
Shake your nettle roots to knock off most of the dirt. Using pruning shears or scissors, clip off the leaves and dead stems that remain attached to the roots. Fill a sink with cool water and swish the roots through the water to remove any additional dirt. Line a wicker basket with a towel, drain the cleaned roots in the basket for a few hours.
These freshly wilted roots can be used in nettle root extract. If you want to use the roots later, cut them into small pieces and dry them. The thicker the diameter of the root, the shorter the piece should be. It takes about 5 to 7 days to fully air dry. With a dehydrator, the roots will dry in approximately one day at 38-40 °C.
DO NOT self-treat with nettle root for BPH. It is important to work with a doctor and to make sure you have a proper diagnosis to rule out prostate cancer.