Nettle (Urtica urens) grows in many climates, sprouting in the spring and spreading widely in the summer. It’s often called stinging nettle because the leaves sting at the lightest touch. If you can bear the prickling sensation, nettle is a great boon to the circulatory system; traditional Mexican healers rub handfuls of nettle on the body to promote healthy circulation.
Nettle is also considered a superfood because of its rich supply of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, D and K; calcium; potassium; phosphorous; iron; and sulphur. Its sedative and nervine properties make it an excellent support for the nervous system. Use a compress of nettles to relieve arthritis and muscular pain, as well as sciatica.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, nettle serves as a nourishing and rejuvenative (rasayana) tonic,particularly for the kidneys and adrenals. The herb increases ojas (vitality), making it particularly useful for individuals who are run down from stress or illness or need extra nourishment during convalescence, old age, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. The baby leaves at the top of the plant have been used throughout history in food and drinks to nourish and detoxify the body in the spring. By stimulating the action of the liver and the kidneys, nettle helps clear ama(toxins from undigested food) and wastes from the body via the bowels and the urinary tract (mutravaha srotas).
Nettle’s mild astringency and general nourishing action tightens and strengthens blood vessels, helps maintain arterial elasticity, and improves venous resilience. By reducing excess pitta in the blood (rakta dhatu) and in watery secretions like lymph and plasma (rasa dhatu), nettle helps clear inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. The herb also helps keep kapha levels in check, improving overall vitality. Its carminative properties relieve intestinal gas, and its capacity to promote peristalsis is helpful for some common vata-related intestinal problems; however, it can result in excess vata when taken in high doses. Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend taking nettle to stop diarrhea.
Post-digestive effect: pungent
Dosha: pacifies pitta and kapha/stimulates vata
1 liter of water
1 ounce of dried nettle leaves (2 ounces fresh)
Add the dried nettle leaves to a 1 liter glass jar. Boil the water and pour into the jar; cover and let steep for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drink the herbal infusion during the next 36 hours. You can pour any remaining liquid over your hair after shampooing—it’s a great hair tonic!
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.