Urtica dioica (Nettles)

Urtica dioica (Urticaceae) Nettles

Vitalist Actions and Energetics:
Cool/ Warm and Dry, Vital Stimulant, Astringent/ Tonic

Clinical Actions:
alterative, nutritive, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, tonic, astringent, anti-arthritic, anti-allergenic
Leaf: tonic, galactagogue, anti-anaemic, anti-scorbutic, kidney ally, lithotriptic, anti-purine, antiseptic, anti-diabetic, anti-rheumatic, pectoral, expectorant, epi-spastic

Common Forms and Dosages:
Tincture: 1:2 95% fresh root, 1 tsp twice a day. Tincture 1:2 95% fresh leaf for allergies, take symptomatically, 30-60 gtts as needed. (from 7song/ Michael Moore ratios)
Infusion: 28 g herb to 100 mL water, standard infusion- drink daily, as a tonic
Poultice: fresh herb macerated, placed on skin as a bandage for septic wounds. Topical “flogging” as anodyne.
Capsules:for heavy menstruation, take 100 mg capsule 3 times a day
Seeds: 1/4 tsp daily, as nutritive food

Primary Uses:
Infusion: nutritive tonic, mild diuretic, nourish kidneys and adrenals, hair wash, skin cleanser (through diuretic action and general nourishment). Better as a nutritive tonic infusion, than through daily tinctures. More nutrients come out through water.
Root tincture: for enlarged prostrate (BPH), astringent. Increases urinary flow and volume, while decreasing frequency of urination and residual urine.
Leaf tincture: anti-allergenic.
Topical application: anodyne. Flog painful area with nettles leaves.
Seeds: vitamin-packed food.

Leaf: flavanoids, minerals (potassium, silicic acid, calcium), coumarins, phenolic acis (cholorogenic acid, etc), phytoestrols (5-sterols), biogenic amines (histamine, acetylcholine, seotonin), chlorophylls, carotenoids, etc.
Root: phytoestrols, coumarins, lignans, a lectin, polysaccharides, tripertines, minerals, ceramides

Cautions and Contraindications:
The diuretic effect may be contraindicated for obstructive urinary stones, edema due to impaired heart or kidney function and kidney inflammations.

Personal Experience

Pulse: Nettles leaf glycerite did not affect my pulse.
Nettles root tincture did not affect my pulse.
Nettles leaf infusion quickened my pulse a little bit.

Circulation: Nettles leaf glycerite did not affect my circulation. I felt a little cooler after taking it.
Nettles root tincture did not affect my circulation. I felt slightly warmer after taking it, perhaps due to the alcohol.
Nettles leaf infusion increased my body temperature a little bit.

Mucous Membranes: Nettles leaf glycerite caused salivation.
Nettles root tincture caused my mouth to feel drier after taking it.
Nettles leaf infusion tried out my mouth and throat, and even down into my belly. It causes me to pee more often than usual.

Specific Body Area Influenced: Nettles leaf glycerite affected my GI system.
Nettles root tincture traveled to my lower GI.
Nettles leaf infusion made me feel grounded and relaxed.

Movement: Nettles leaf glycerite stuck in my throat, causing an initial nauseous feeling, a tightening in my gut.
I then started to salivate, and feel the release of digestive juices.
Nettles root tincture travels downwards.
Nettles leaf infusion travels downward, rooting me down into the Earth.

Other forms taken:
- Nettles gomasio: sprinkled it on food. Basically powdered everything: nettles, seaweed, roasted sesame seeds, salt, and your personal preferred spice blend combo. Tastes nourishing and delicious. Would be a great way to get it into the diet of future clients, and fun/easy cooking project to engage with kids, or beginner wild-crafters.
- In the past, I eat a lot of nettles during nettles season. I blanch it, then season it with some tamari and sesame oil (the usual Chinese type seasoning). Nourishing, delicious. Love that nettles is also a great food herb, awareness teacher, and abundant where it doth grow. Oh, and did I mention gorgeous? GORGEOUS.
- Nettles lasagna. (Recipe from my first teacher, Lucy)
- Nettles vinegar. Great way to pull out minerals. This spring, I plan to make a nettles salad dressing, based off a Gladstar recipe: layer fresh young nettles leaves in a glass jar, then cover with a 1:1 vinegar:olive oil menstruum... let sit for weeks to months. Enjoy well preserved nettles, come winter! Yes!
- Nettles hair wash! 7song went for something like 6 years with only washing his hair with a 1:1 nettles: rosemary infusion. Unlike his balding brethren, his hair is still pretty luxuriant. It feels nourishing, smells divine (the earthy kind of seaweed-like divine), and makes my hair shinier and darker.
- Urtication! I love it! Do read on...

Overall Experience:
We gathered nettles at Paul Strauss’ Equinox Botanicals farm last year, during a class fieldtrip. I gathered as much nettles as I could process in the time we had. I used up all of my remaining gathering bags on nettles. We dried our nettles harvest in the greenhouse. We filled the greenhouse with nettles. The bright green color filled my eyes, and the dust from the dried plants filled my nostrils. I started off gathering nettles totally covered with clothing, even in the heat. I did not want to get stung... My first experience with nettles was not positive: I was river-tracing up a stream in Connecticut, at the place where I loved, lived, and worked. Exploring the deeper areas of the stream that I’d never been before, I encountered a painful welting on my upper body, as my lower body was submerged under water. Confused about the origin of the stinging sensation, I continued plunging through the brush, up the river. The stinging sensation got worse. I even got it on my face. Then, I realized that it was coming from the plants that I was pushing through, to go upstream. Stopping to soak my stinging limbs in the water, I carefully inspected the plant, noticing the little hairs covering its entire body... and noticing how the stream-side was lined with these plants, as was the path that I was carving through the plant undergrowth that almost canopied over me, bush-whacking upstream. Seeing land ahead, I decided to just plunge underwater and continue swimming upstream, though the water wasn’t quite deep enough. I’d do anything to avoid further stinging. Upon arriving on land, I was dismayed to discover that this bright green gorgeous but painfully stinging plant covered most of the visible landscape. I carefully picked my way across the landscape from rock to rock in my bare feet, trying my best to avoid these plants, but howling more often than not, as I accidentally stepped on their lush growth, as I walked into the forest.

Thus began my life journey with nettles. Thus explains my respect for nettles... and my fear of touching them, when I was at Paul’s farm. I harvested the nettles with some other student friends. One student was harvesting without gloves. Another student took off her gloves. One after another, as we watched each other yowl through the initial pain, then develop a tolerance for the stinging, most of us took off our gloves, and harvested nettles bare-handed. Me too. After 3 days of bare-handedly handling the nettles, I had a then-permanent tingling in my hands and wrist, and a slight swelling, some bumps. After a while, the pain almost becomes pleasurable, though. I have regular underlying pain in my wrist, due to a surgery. After all of the self-inflicted “flogging” with the fresh nettles during those few days of blissful nettles harvesting, my wrist and hand felt more alive and relaxed than it ever had, after my surgery of a year ago on that hand. Nettles! What a fantastic topical vital stimulant. And now, I am no longer afraid of touching them directly, with respect, and much gratitude.

I started drinking nettles infusion daily after an elder gave me all of Susun Weed’s books, and I devoured them all. I especially enjoyed the charismatic presentation of the plants in “Healing Wise,” and immediately started harvesting, eating, and drinking infusions of all the local edible/ medicinal weeds around me. This included nettles. I love the earthy taste, thick almost syrupy quality, and dark green color of nettles infusion. I love the daily ritual of measuring out an ounce of dried plant material overnight, making the infusion, then straining it in the morning, and drinking it. I love the satisfaction of self-care, and the feeling of luxury, ease, and empowerment from having known where my medicine came from, from having harvested it myself, and now nourishing myself with it. Nettles overnight infusion with the standard infusion ratio feels super grounding and nourishing. Although I am engaging in other dietary practices right now, I feel like the nettles has helped to regulate my daily defecation. After starting drinking daily nettles infusion (and taking some zinc and EFA’s), I am once more pooping regularly in the morning. Satisfying.

Herb Form and Dosage:
Infusion, 28 grams to 1 L hot water, daily: I found this nourishing, delicious, and mildly drying. After 2 weeks of this protocol though, I am starting to get bored of drinking the same thing everyday.

Pairs and Triplets
Urtica dioica and Arctium lappa (for skin disease- BHP)
Urtica dioica and Althaea officinalis (the dry nettles balance the moist marshmallow)
Urtica dioica and Mentha spp. (nourishing digestive relaxant)
Urtica dioica and Ocimum sanctum (more targeted toward digestive nervine qualities, with tulsi)


Formula 1- Female Tonic tea
(from Rosemary Gladstar, p. 111)

Rubus idaeus leaf- 2 parts (5 g)
Fragaria spp. leaf- 1 part (2.5 g)
Urtica dioica leaf- 2 parts (5 g)
Mentha piperita leaf- 2 parts (5 g)
Cymbopogon spp. Leaf (Lemon grass)- 2 parts (5 g)
Mitchella repens leaf- 2 parts (5 g)

Make as an overnight standard infusion. Or, for a milder effect, add 28 g of the formula to 1 liter of water. Add herbs to cold water and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Allow to infuse 20 min, strain, sip throughout the day, daily. (Quantities in g of each herb, for 28 g of total herb for one dose, standard infusion). Drink daily for 2-3 months.

1 part= 2.5 g for a 28 g dose

Client Description 1

Rosemary Gladstar lists this tea under the “Mothering Years” chapter of her book. Most of the herbs in this tea are astringent, tightening the tissues. Raspberry leaf and patridgeberry target the tea to the female reproductive system. Partidgeberry is an emmanagogue, so this tea is contraindicated for pregnant women.

This tea would be helpful for someone with uterine prolapse, or too much “wetness” in their body, which may manifest as sluggish digestion, lack of tone in the skin and/or vaginal tissues, frequent cramps during menstruation, etc. I am surprised that Gladstar suggests an overnight infusion for this tea, because it contains peppermint, which becomes bitter overnight. Raspberry leaf also becomes very astringent overnight.

Raspberry and strawberry leaf contain antioxidants. They, and lemon grass, are slightly sour, stimulating digestion. Peppermint also stimulates digestion, while adding a cooling and calming effect to the tea. The strawberry is also calming, as well as a uterine tonic. Nettles leaf and patridgeberry are uterine tonics, too. Nettles are a nutritive tonic.

This tea tastes earthy yet refreshing, due to the two leading herbs, peppermint and nettles.

I would consider giving this tea (or a modified version, depending on the constitution) to someone with a combination of these symptoms: chronically painful menses, a poor diet/ digestive system, overweight, tendency towards depression, pre-menstraul discomfort, etc.

Formula 2- Blessed Liver Blend
(from Rosemary Gladstar, p. 112)

Urtica dioica leaf- 3 parts (7.5 g)
Taraxacum officinale leaf- 2 parts (5 g)
Trifolium pratens flowers- 2 parts (5 g)
Melissa officinalis leaf- 2 parts (5 g)
Medicago sativa leaf- 1 part (2.5 g)
Matricaria recutita flowers- 1 part (2.5 g)

Add 28 g of the formula to 1 liter of water. Add herbs to cold water and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Allow to infuse 20 min, strain, sip throughout the day, daily. (Quantities in g of each herb, for 28 g of total herb for one dose, standard infusion).

1 part= 2.5 g for a 28 g dose

Client Description 2

Clover has a mild estrogenic effect, so this formula shoulder be used with care, with clients who have estrogen receptor positive tumors.

This formula helps someone who wants to help support their liver in cleansing the body of environmental toxins and metabolic waste. For example, if someone has been taking western medicines or other chemical-laden drugs and want to simultaneously cleanse and support their system, this formula will help support detoxification (nettles and dandelion are diuretic), promote gut healing (chamomile is vulnerary), replenish the body (nettles, alfalfa, and clover are nutritive), and relax the digestive system (lemon balm and chamomile are digestive relaxants, and carminative). For a detoxing person, I would adjust the length of time to take the herb, according to how long they’ve used the chemical product for, and/or how serious their symptoms are.

I would also use this formula on an acne-prone teenager with a bad diet, for the cleansing and nutritive combinations of herbs in this formula.

Depending on the person’s constitution, I’d consider using this as a spring tonic to gently reboot the liver and digestive system. If someone was very dry constitutionally, then I’d add a demulcent herb to this formula.

Formula 3- Hepatonic Tea
(from Rosemary Gladstar, p. 82)

Rubus idaeus leaf- 2 parts (5.6 g)
Mentha piperita leaf- 2 parts (5.6 g)
Urtica dioica leaf- 1 part (2.8 g)
Medicago sativa leaf- 1 part (2.8 g)
Taraxacum officinale leaf- 1 part (2.8 g)
Glycyrrhiza glabra root- 1 part (2.8 g)
Leonorus cardiaca leaf - 1 part (2.8 g)
Cymbopogon spp. Leaf (Lemon grass)- 1 part (2.8 g)

Add 28 g of the formula to 1 liter of water. Add herbs to cold water and bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Allow to infuse 20 min, strain, sip throughout the day, daily. (Quantities in g of each herb, for 28 g of total herb for one dose, standard infusion).

1 part= 2.8 g for a 28 g dose

Client Description 3

Gladstar recommends young women entering their moontime to drink this tea everyday, “as a tonic to help gently regulate hormones and nourish the system.” This formula targets the liver and endocrine system of young women. I would consider using this formula with someone presenting these symptoms: acne prone, irregular menstruation, painful cramping during menses, poor digestion, anxiety/ depression, and obesity.

Action Formula

Formula 1- Female Tonic tea
(from Rosemary Gladstar, p. 111)

Rubus idaeus 2
Urtica dioica 2
Mentha piperita2
Cymbopogon spp. 2
Fragaria spp. 1
Cool/ dry
Cool/ dry
Cool/ dry
Warm/ dry
Neutral/ dry






Resources Cited
Herbal Vade Mecum, Skenderi, pg. 265- 266
Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Chevallier, pg. 146
Planetary Herbology, Tierra, pg. 333-334
Herbal Pairs Database, Bergner, pg.
Herbal Healing for Women, Rosemary Gladstar
Actions Database (http://naimh.com/Actions/naimh-actions-database.htm)
Healing Wise, Susun Weed, pg. 165-190
Classes with 7song

NOTE and DISCLAIMER: same deal as with the Chaparral monograph. Go read that. Thanks for reading.