Nettle is one of those herbs that people love and hate. Many people consider it a noxious weed to avoid. This is understandable considering just the touch of it can create a stinging rash and welt. But does nettle deserve its cursed status or is it a blessing? This herb is very commonly used in herbalism because herbalists understand nettle to be one of the best nutritive herbs available. Nettle is high in vitamins and minerals. The minerals in nettle are easily absorbed by our body. Nettle is restorative, strengthening, and detoxifying.
Nettle has had many uses historically. It was used to make cloth until it was replaced by flax. In Ireland and Scotland it was used to make cloth, drinks, and eaten as food. The fiber was also used to make paper. Nettle has a history in German, medieval, and Roman mythology and superstition. It’s use during pregnancy to strengthen the uterus can be found within Native American history. Nettles were used medicinally in Egypt commonly via flagellation, or whipping of the arthritic with the plant. Hippocrates, and Platonicus both list nettles as remedies in their medical texts. It has been used to treat urinary problem, menstrual irregularities, as well as to stop bleeding, diarrhea, and heal eczema, anemia, and hemorrhoids. A nourishing herb it was cooked similar to spinach.
Nettles In The BibleThere are several words in the Hebrew Bible translated as nettles. I have found that there are a variety of claims as to which word was truly referring to nettles and it is possible that more than one of the words had nettles in mind or are synonyms. Some of the words thought to be the actual nettle translate into English with words such as thistle or briers as well as nettles. They are generally looked down upon and translated as thistle or briers in the scriptures because of the stinging quality and weed like growth. The Israeli nettle that is thought to be the biblical nettle is (Urtica pilulifera).Though nettles are not what we commonly think of as a thistles they definitely have thistle qualities. Yet the beautiful thing we see in the thistle itself is God’s provision. In Bereshit (the beginning, Genesis) God created and placed man in the Garden of Eden with fresh and abundant plant material. After the fall of man sin, death and sickness entered. Yet God still provided for man even in his fallen state. Thistles are one of our most common herbal medicines. The curse has provided us a blessing.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat field plants Genesis 3:18
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine , and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. Psalm 104:14-15
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia describes the scriptures and Hebrew words often translated as nettles:
“net’-‘lz:(1) charul, (Job 30:7; Proverbs 24:31; Zechariah 2:9 margin, in all, “wild vetches”); the translation “nettles” is due to the supposed derivations of charul from an (obsolete) charal, meaning “to be sharp” or “stinging,” but a translation “thorns” (as in Vulgate) would in that case do as well. Septuagint has phrugana agria, “wild brushwood,” in Job, and certainly the association with the “saltwort” and the retm, “broom,” in the passage would best be met by the supposition that it means the low thorny bushes plentiful in association with these plants. “Vetch” is suggested by the Aramaic, but is very uncertain. (2) qimmosh (Isaiah 34:13; Hosea 9:6), and plural qimmeshonim (Proverbs 24:31), translated (English Versions of the Bible) “thorns,” because of the translation of charul as “nettles” in the same verse From Isaiah 34:13 qimmosh is apparently distinct from thorns, and the translation “nettle” is very probable, as such neglected or deserted places as described in the three references readily become overgrown with nettles in Palestine The common and characteristic Palestine nettle is the Urtica pilulifera, so called from the globular heads of its flowers. ” E. W. G. Masterman While the Encyclopedia Judaica lists sirpad סִרְפָּד found in Isaiah 55:13 as the true nettle (Urtica pilulifera) and gives different plants for the above Hebrew words.
A fir tree shall go up for a gorse, either furze, and a myrtle tree shall wax for a nettle; and the Lord shall be named into a sign everlasting, that shall not be done away. (A fir tree shall grow up for a gorse, or for a furze, and a myrtle tree shall grow up for a nettle; and it shall give the Lord a great name, yea, it shall be an everlasting sign, that shall not be done away.) Is 55:13 WYC
Whether all of the above Hebrew words refer to nettle of the Urtica species or just the one, we do know that nettle is a prolific plant that grows in Israel. It is very probable that the children of Israel used this plant for food, medicine and fiber as the other nations have throughout history.
Nettle(s), stinging nettle
Aerial Parts, roots
Astringent, Diuretic, tonic, hyotensive, nutritive, hypoglycemic, increases milk production, stops bleeding
Chlorophyll/ indoles-histamine and serotonin. Acetylcholine-flavonal glycosides, quercetin, tannins, vitamin C, Protein, fiber,iron, silica, calcium, potassium, manganese, sulphur, vitamins A. Formic acid in the hairs causes the stinging sensation.
Tonic, blood builder, anemia, strengthening and detoxifying, scurvy, gout, eczema, hemorrhage relief, excess menstruation, lowers blood sugar, asthma, allergies. Topically the plant has been used to sting the joints in arthritis, causing a relief of pain once the inflammation subsides. Also used topically to stimulate hair growth, control dandruff, condition and darken hair. Root: Early benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Reduces urine flow, and frequency, lowers residual urine volume. Seed: Protective and restorative to kidneys.
2.5-5 ml 1:5 (40%) tincture 3 times a day. Infusion 1-3 tsp. in 1 Cup water steep 10-15 minutes 3 times a day. BHC recommends 5-10 ml fresh juice 3 times a day. BHP recommends 2-4 g dried herb 3 times a day. German Commission E recommends 8-12 g of herb or 4-6 g of root a day.
Fresh nettle has hairs that sting and cause a rash when touched. They can be safely eaten when cooked or used dried. Harvest carefully with gloves. Could possibly reduce effectiveness of anticoagulants.
Nettle Nourishing Infusion
Because nettle is a nourishing herb it is a safe herb to make a nourishing infusion with. A nettle nourishing infusion is deep green and taste rich and almost creamy. Many people do not like the taste of a nettle nourishing infusion however a cold glass of nettle with its rich almost creamy taste reminds me of creamy chocolate or avocado. When I am feeling exhausted a cup can bring me a feeling of restoration. 1 ounce (by weight) dried nettle leaf 1 quart water Place nettle in 1 quart mason jar and cover with 1 quart of boiling water. Cover and allow to steep for 4-10 hours. Strain and store in sealed quart jar in refrigerator for 1-3 days. It is normal to drink 1- 3 cups a day.
Have you ever used or gathered nettle? Share with us in the comments.
Encyclopaedia Judaica Plants-Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 16. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. p219-225. COPYRIGHT 2007 Keter Publishing House Ltd.
Medical Herbalism: David Hoffman 2003
Herbalpedia, Maureen Rogers 2007
History of Stinging Nettle by Kassie Vance