SOURCE OF ANNOYANCE ... OR A PLANT TO LOVE?
Anyone who does gardening will recognize it. You have beautiful plants, they come up nicely, start to grow and while you are lovingly caring for those plants, you suddenly feel a few stings that immediately seem to be burning. It is not that plant that you are lovingly caring for, but an uninvited guest among your plants. The nettle has established itself illegally and has announced its presence to you with its venomous injections, which now makes your skin appear to be on fire.
This of course feels far from nice, and you quickly pull out the treacherous nettle between your plants, taking care to take the wide-branched fine root system and after you have removed the nettle, you look around happily and throw away that annoying nettle. That's gone for now!
TWO DIFFERENT TYPES
There are two different types of nettle, the large nettle. This is by far the most common variety. But there is also the small nettle. And who thinks, do me the little one, it will sting less. Unfortunately! This little nettle stings even worse! And where the large nettle does not grow above the ground in winter, the small nettle does.
IS IT FAIR THAT WE HATE THE NETTLE?
But is a nettle always annoying? Of course it is not nice to come into contact with a nettle and then get pain in your skin. After all, the feeling is anything but pleasant. Which soon makes us all dislike this plant. But is that right? Is this nettle just annoying and useless? Or can we do other things with it?
NETTLE FOLLOWS HUMAN ACTIVITY
A stinging nettle can mean a lot to us, to understand that we have to take a closer look at the plant. First, it is already striking that a nettle grows mainly on soil that has been turned around by people. The nettle will be frequently found on rubble, fields and forest edges. You will come across the nettle wherever human activity has been. Why? A nettle is one of the cleaners of the earth. A stinging nettle helps to clean the contaminated soil and restore structure to the soil. The moment we would leave the soil alone for a number of years, the nettle would withdraw and make way for other perennials. It is a soil cleaner par excellence.
Hmmm that's quite useful isn't it? But is that all?
The nettle is an excellent green plant. EVERYTHING about this plant is dark green, from the stems to the leaves and even the modest flowers of the nettle are green. This green color consists of chlorophyll, which indicates a plant that is very rich in minerals. And if you have a nettle that also has red in it, which sometimes happens, it means that this plant is even richer in minerals, especially iron.
That's an interesting fact, because it means that that nasty nettle can be HEALTHY for us.
And that is entirely justified. Nettles have many healthy substances in them that we as humans can take advantage of. And you can use them in many different ways.
SUBSTANCES IN THE NETTLE
Laboratory analyzes have revealed that a nettle is rich in many different substances that have an effect on our human body. Some of those substances are;
- formic acid
- acetic acid
These substances are mainly found in the stinging hairs
Then we go to the rest of the plant where you can also find the necessary substances such as;
- Vitamin A, B2, C, K, pantotenic acid, folic acid
- Beta carotene
- Essential oil
- Minerals: Potassium, Nitrate, Calcium Nitrate, Silicon, Iron, Sulfur, Manganese, Magnesium
- Enzymes, especially glucokinin
PICKING THE NETTLE
The concentration of medicinal substances is highest in the top of the plant, especially in early spring. You also harvest these young buds from large nettle: the top two to four leaves. This is best done in April, when the nettle comes back to the ground after a long winter's rest. If you regularly "pick through" a nettle spot during this period, the roots of the plant will again and again form buds, which grow above the ground. Then you can pick again. You don't have to worry about exhausting the roots by always picking the above-ground leaves: the root contains so much vigor and energy that nettle is practically ineradicable.
As temperatures rise and the days get longer, the nettle will grow faster than you can keep up with picking. The stems then stretch quickly and produce long, tough fibers. The hanging spikes with small flowers appear at the top of the long stems.
At this stage, the large nettle as a medicinal plant is no longer so interesting.
The clothing industry does benefit from this: the long tough fibers from the stinging nettle stems are used to make textiles.
If large nettle is cut, young buds will reappear. These are again suitable for harvesting, although they are less powerful than the buds of spring.
Small nettle can be harvested all year round, even during flowering. It is always more powerful than the great nettle.
Large nettle tops can be used in many ways. They are eaten as a vegetable. Especially in the spring, when there are few fresh cultivated vegetables of the season available, young nettle provides a very valuable addition to your diet, with its wealth of vitamins and minerals. In the soup or in mixed dishes, the leaves quickly lose their sting, because the stinging hairs are damaged during preparation and their contents can no longer come into contact with your skin (or your tongue). You can even eat young nettle in salad. It is wise to mix the salad well with a dressing before use. Stirring well will also break most stinging hairs, so you can eat the nettles safely.
Furthermore, young nettle can be used to make herbal tea. She also dries well. Because the taste is not particularly attractive, nettle is often mixed with other herbs to get a tastier tea. It can be consumed indefinitely throughout the year.
The internal use of nettle has a number of scientifically established effects in the body:
- Nettle increases the excretion of uric acid from the tissues to the blood and from the blood, through the kidneys, from the body. Uric acid is a waste product of the protein metabolism. Uric acid, which remains in the body, has been linked to a variety of diseases, such as joint disease (rheumatism, gout).
- Nettle increases the functioning of the pancreas
- Nettle has a constructive effect due to the wealth of minerals
Nettle is also easy to use in ointment. This nettle ointment is very versatile, and should not be missing in any first aid cabinet. You can use nettle ointment:
- as a drawing cream. With subcutaneous inflammation, for example as a result of a splinter, it works very well to apply a large dollop of nettle ointment and leave it for a long time. Apply a plaster over it to avoid smearing the ointment on everything. Smaller splinters usually disappear within 1 night. Larger splinters or inflammations with a different origin also respond well to this.
- As a fire ointment.
Apply nettle ointment to the burned area and the pain will ease quickly. Healing starts quickly.
- As an injection ointment. Surprisingly, nettle ointment works great if you have stuck nettle. Other injections, such as mosquitoes or wasps, also respond well to nettle ointment. The pain subsides faster, the itch also and the site heals faster. Even rashes due to allergic reactions or hypersensitivity are lessened by the use of nettle ointment. We actually make all these skin reactions ourselves: the nettle, the mosquito, or any insect whatsoever, triggers a reaction in our own body that causes the itching, swelling and redness.
Our body uses the substances histamine, choline and acetylcholine, which are also all found in the nettle. If the damage is caused by the hairs of the processionary caterpillar, it is important not to rub or lubricate the ointment in the skin, but rather to apply it dabbing. By rubbing you would push the hair deeper into the skin, and of course you don't want that!
As you can read, the nettle is not as bad as we always think. No, it is certainly not pleasant that this nettle pops up everywhere you absolutely do not want it. But by leaving the soil alone, the nettle will disappear. And as long as the nettle is there, it is better to take advantage of it.