How Stinging Nettles Saved My Sanity… Making Nettle Tea
Okay, I know that my sanity is up for debate but let’s just assume I am perfectly sane for a few minutes…
When we moved onto our new property the first thing we learned was to avoid Stinging Nettles. They are absolutely vicious. That little stinging action is awful. The best cure we found was to smear mud on it to stop the sting. Recently I learned that Dock weed is good for neutralizing the sting as well.
I hate Stinging Nettles, but I learned quickly not to say that too loud. On several occasions I expressed my deep dislike and was lectured on how I could boil them and they tasted like spinach, how they are great for chickens, how I can make them into tea, etc… I then would ask: “Why would I pick something that bites back instead of just growing spinach?” Seriously, If I have to wear full-body armor to harvest it then it clearly wants to live more than I want to eat it. So, it was added to my “I will eat it ONLY if I become desperate” List.
Well, my son has been fighting allergies this season more than he ever has. It got so bad that the doctor prescribed allergy meds and an inhaler. I was trying every home remedy to reduce coughing including Vicks, Tea with lemon and honey, having him sleep on an incline, steamy room then cold night air… I became desperate to find a solution that didn’t involve multiple medications.
It quickly got worse. One night involved all remedies (including meds and inhaler) to no avail. Son and Mom got barely any sleep. Every four hours involved having him drink some tea with honey and then going under a blanket with the humidifier for 10 minutes than the night air for 10. Then inclined sleeping. Finally sleep would come…just to do it all again in 3-4 hours.
That evening someone suggested Stinging Nettle Tea. Well, I was desperate. I didn’t have a doctor appointment till the next day so I did some research online. I read several articles from medical sources and read it had expectorant and antihistamine qualities. SO, off I went in my full-body gear and harvested nettles. I made a tea, added mint and honey and had him drink it. He hated it but after a bit his cough changed. Instead of that deep solid cough it seemed to be loosening up!
I know at this point you are hoping for some 2-minute miracle cure… but this night was the worst of all. Yes his cough changed but we were up ALL night with the cough. There was nothing that made it stop. I was exhausted and so was he. About 4am the cough stopped and he slept. Here is the crazy part. He woke up in a few hours and no cough. No cough all day… Went to the doctor and after an xray we confirmed no infection so the doctor said to continue the tea and an evening nebulizer treatment, and the main allergy med.
When he started to cough that afternoon he was immediately given about 1/4 cup of Stinging Nettle Tea to sip on. He soon coughed up the yuck and no more coughing. Oh the Hallelujah Chorus sang through the trees! Would I actually get sleep tonight? Before bed he drank a little more and went to bed, still inclined. No coughing all night!! WoooHOOOO!
Some tea in the AM loosed up what gunk accumulated over night. We have been continuing this routine with nettle tea for two weeks along with storing up plenty of Nettle Leaves for Winter.
If you have ever had a sick kid get better after nights of exhaustion, you know my elation. Who knew stinging nettles, that horrible weed, would save this Momma’s sanity…
We are still using the humidifier, some allergy meds and the tea but as the trees clear out their pollen he is getting better and better. Now he only has tea about once a day. We make about a quart at a time and then he reheats it in small portions.
So here is the part where I give you all sorts of important info:
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Learn more about Stinging Nettles Here:
Things you need for preserving your nettles:
– Gloves for gathering fresh nettles
– A method of dehydrating
– Airtight Storage containers (I prefer mason jars)
Things to know about Stinging Nettles
- When making tea use ONLY young plants that have not flowered or gone to seed. Some medical articles state that when nettles flower and go to seed they form cystoliths or calcium concretions (aka bladder stones) that are bad for the urinary tract. Many sources say they are bad for the kidneys. I have not seen the medical research, but I have decided to error on the side of caution.
- Don’t drink Nettle tea if you are pregnant! It is “contraindicated in pregnancy,” says naturopath Dr. Robert Kachko, ND It can alter the menstrual cycle, and may contribute to miscarriage. Dr. Kachko warns that people with heart disorders, kidney problems, or hormone-mediated cancers should use caution. “All use should be supervised and approved by a physician,” he says.
- Various studies point to it raising blood sugar levels and others show that it lowers them, so if you are diabetic you should monitor your blood closely.
- Stinging Nettles can be dried for later use. They loose there sting when dry. I have been filling my dehydrator so that I have some available for those winter colds.
- After fresh Stinging Nettles have been brought to a boil their sting is gone. You can use the water for a tea and eat the leaves as a side dish. They do actually taste like spinach and since I was harvesting and cooking them anyway why not eat them and get some more healthy benefits?
- Stinging Nettles are rich in vitamins and minerals. When cooked (undercooked leaves will leave a stinging sensation in your mouth and throat) they can also be used for pesto, boiled for a spinach like side dish, baked to make chips, they can be a rennet substitute for cheesemaking and more. An internet search
How to make Stinging Nettle Tea
- Gather about one cup of fresh Stinging Nettle Leaves (cautiously!…with gloves and long sleeves, pants and close toed shoes. They are mean little buggers)
- Boil Hot water (2-3 cups)
- Muddle or crush the leaves to help release oils during steeping. See our Muddler HERE
- Pour water over Stinging Nettle Leaves
- Steep for 10 minutes. Note: I added mint leaves for added flavor.
- Sieve out leaves or simply drink. If using dried nettles, cut up the dried leaves into small pieces and place in a tea infuser. However, dried leaves to not have the potency of fresh so you will have to use a larger quantity to get the same effect.
- I also added honey for its sweetness and natural ability to soothe sore throats.
Important NOTE: When you make nettle tea, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you can drink three to four cups per day, but you should always drink additional water along with the tea. Start with a small amount to check for any allergic reactions.
It has worked great for my son! He doesn’t like drinking it, but he recognizes that it is much better than that horrible cough all the time. Mommy gets sleep too!! Ya!!
Drying and storing Stinging Nettles
If drying Stinging Nettles for later use either dry on a rack in a warm room or place in a dehydrator on low (under 100 degree) until the leaf is crispy. Please note that Stinging Nettles loose there sting when dried or cooked but every once in a while a dried one will surprise you.
Place dried leaves in an airtight container. It is best if your container is covered to block out light and/or is kept in a dark location. I place mine in large mason jars, cover them with paper and store in the back of a cabinet.
I also use a tamper when packing in these leaves. CAUTION: They can still sting when dried. Why pack them? 1) I also want to save space 2) less air means they hold their properties longer. So I use my tamper for this task. You can see it started full and just a gentle push gets me triple the space. I can’t easily fit my hand in a jar (especially if all I have are regular mouth jars) so a Tamper is awesome for that since one end fits into a regular jar and the other fits into a wide mouth opening. You can find a quality tamper and other quality kitchen items at our store secure.ladyandthecarpenter.com
Thank you so much for joining our adventures. I hope you are having an amazing day!
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The Frabjus Lady