Nettles (Urtica dioica)

Nettles are a powerhouse of nutrients and contain good amounts of vitamin C, iron, boron, magnesium and calcium. Traditionally used as a blood tonic they can be helpful for anaemia and can also support kidney function, being a mild diuretic (makes you wee) this may even help prevent kidney stone formation. Nettles are antiallergenic and can be beneficial in combatting hay fever, mild asthma and eczema. In addition nettles can help remove uric acid crystals in the body which cause the pain and inflammation in gout.
They often grow right next to cleavers and the combination couldn’t be a better tonic at this time of year. Snip off a few of the topmost leaves with scissors and wear gloves to avoid the stinging hairs, or you could just “grasp the nettle” 😳Infuse in hot water for about five minutes and then drink. The hot water removes the stinging hairs, as does drying the leaves. The tea has a pleasant and mild lemony taste. The leaves can also be added to soups and stews but don’t overdo it as the flavour can be a bit earthy and overpowering. I often combine it with butternut squash, potato and garlic to make a lovely creamy, nutritious soup. It’s certainly a good time to be in the kitchen and experimenting with new recipes!
If you’re not lucky enough to have nettles growing in your garden, or you perhaps don’t have a garden in the first place, you can still buy dried nettle leaves, usually in the form of teabags, at your local supermarket or health food shop.