Thanks to my sister, I’m a huge fan of stinging nettles. She introduced to me to this fascinating green a few years ago, taking me into the woods to forage them on Vashon Island in Washington, cooking them up in delicious pasta, and dehydrating them, instructing me to make hot or cold nettle tea. So naturally, when Robin Harrington, spa herbalist and formulator at the Spa at Sedona Rouge, Sedona, Arizona, got in touch with her experience with nettles, my ears perked up and we just had to share with you her knowledge and experience with the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of nettle tea. Here, Harrington writes about her love for nettles and everything nettle tea has to offer, just in time for National Hot Tea Month.
The Beauty of Nettle Tea
By Robin Harrington
My first homework assignment in herbal medicine school was to choose one herb and really get to know it. I chose Urtica dioica, the stinging nettle. Stinging nettle is a member of the mint family, known for its stinging hairs that deliver a formic acid bite to the unlucky soul who touches the fresh plant. Luckily, the formic acid dissipates when dried and the plant has been used since antiquity for its healing properties and fibers.
For two weeks I drank a really strong infusion of nettle tea and kept a journal of how I felt physically, mentally, and emotionally. I found after two days of imbibing nettle tea I was craving my next cup. After one week my mind felt clearer- I could retain information better and solve everyday problems without the usual brain haze. Physically, I had a lot more energy. After two weeks of continuously sipping tea, I looked a heck of lot better (even for a twenty-five year old). My skin was clear of acne and radiant. My hair had shine to it, and my body felt firmer and more purposeful. Good stuff.
Now, years later, as the spa herbalist and spa products formulator at the Spa at Sedona Rouge, I include nettles in many of my spa lotions and potions. As part of a natural product recipe or alone as a tea, stinging nettle is therapeutic on many different levels: as a nutritional powerhouse; a detoxifying, slimming, and pain relieving diuretic; as well as a skin and hair beautifier.
Craving Nettle Tea = Craving Nutrients
As I mentioned, after a couple of days of drinking nettle tea, I started to crave my next cup. Why? The herb is a well of nutrition.
If you are vitamin deficient (most of us are because of depleted soils), have problems absorbing nutrients, or are prone to acidosis, nettle tea can restore you…and your body knows it. Rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C (10 times more than in an apple), vitamin B complex, vitamin E, amino acids, and beta-carotene (five times more than in a carrot) to name only a few, nettle is alkalizing while supporting the immune system, the nervous system, bone stability, the metabolism and skin health. That translates into having more energy, mental acuity, disease resilience and radiant well-being. In fact, nettle tea is such a great source of nourishment that some herbalists and organic farmers brew nettle tea for their crops as a fertilizer instead of using Miracle-Gro.
A Gentle yet Effective Body Flush
Stinging nettle leaf is a gentle diuretic, helping the body to process and flush away toxins. It flushes the kidneys and bladder to prevent and soothe urinary tract infections. The tea is ideal for sodium induced water retention and high blood pressure. Its diuretic effect decreases bloated “water weight” and other edema, streamlining and slimming the body. An added plus, nettle tea (alone, without other herbs) is considered safe in pregnancy and helps with aching legs and swollen ankles.
The herb’s diuretic action also flushes excess uric acid from muscles and joints, helping to relieve arthritic pain and inflammations. Also in its role as an anti-inflammatory, nettle tea is effective in treating the symptoms of itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing common in allergy season.
The Beauty Benefits
Because of its nourishing, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory properties, nettle tea is a natural beautifier to skin and hair. Nettle tea has been shown to clear acne and eczema as well as encourage thicker, shinier hair and new hair growth.
For acne prone or dull, congested skin, I would suggest drinking three to four cups of nettle tea a day for two weeks. After two weeks, take a week off drinking it and see how your skin looks and feels before resuming.
Drinking the tea for two weeks will also gift you with shiny, thicker-looking hair. To heighten the effect, you can rinse your hair with the tea as well. Research has shown that stinging nettle may also be effective in reducing scalp conditions, dandruff, and male pattern baldness.
Nettle tea is a must-have in my herbal apothecary; I honor it profoundly. It is a simple plant with the amazing gift of whole person wellbeing. All we have to do is take a sip.
Where to Find Nettle Tea
You’re able to buy nettle leaf tea in tea bags at most natural food stores. If you prefer, you can buy bulk nettle leaf and brew one tablespoon of dry leaf to one cup of steaming water for at least twenty minutes. The tea can be sweetened as you wish. I make half gallons of the tea at a time, steep it at least an hour and drink it as a refreshing iced tea.
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