How to Cultivate Nettles in Your Herb Garden
The stinging nettle (Urtica dioica and related Urtica urens) is a herb that has a long history of use for beneficial human health practices.
The use of this surprisingly helpful herb dates back to medieval European traditional medicine, where it was used as a diuretic (a substance that stimulates urination – helping to get rid of excess water) and as an effective balm for muscle pain.
By itself, the stinging nettle can be rather unpleasant to the skin. The stinging nettle has fine hairs which can be very stinging to touch. It contains some irritating chemicals that cause this sting.
However, when applied to painful areas on the body, it helps to relieve pain in that area. It is thought that the chemicals in stinging nettle interfere with the nervous system, thus alleviating the muscle pain.
Cultivation of Nettle
Nettle is a highly invasive species. This can be a blessing if you are growing nettles, and a curse if you are growing anything else. This distant cousin of the mint can be rather painful to control. One good idea would be to grow your nettles indoors, or to separate your nettle growing operation in another part of the house, such as the backyard.
Here is how you can grow your nettles:
- You can find nettle seeds in most nurseries. There is no need to germinate them separately or take any special care – simply find a secluded garden bed, far away from your precious flower beds or vegetable patches, sprinkle the seeds and sprinkle soil on.
- Water the nettle bed every once in a while. Don’t water log the seeds.
- When the seeds have germinated, keep watering for healthy growth. Fertilization is not particularly necessary.
Tips on Growing Stinging Nettles
Always use protective gear when picking nettles. Wear gloves, long pants and don’t leave any skin exposed to the nettles. Diligence is the only way to avoid hours or stinging pain.
The plant grows to six feet long. In summer, you must chop down the nettle shrubs. If you don’t do so, the seeds can spread all over your garden by the wind, invading your precious flower beds.
Keep the children away: Educate your children on the very painful nature of your herbs. Prevention is the best medicine with the sting of the nettle.
Medicinal Uses of Nettle
The stinging nettle is a herb deeply rooted in ancient European culture and folklore. Knights of yore have found benefit in this stinging herb for their health complaints and muscle sores. You may not be brandishing huge swords or convening at Arthur’s Round table, but you will be sure to benefit from the many health benefits of the stinging nettle.
Here are just a few highly effective uses of stinging nettles:
As a cure for muscle sores – The ancient use of the stinging nettle is one you can benefit from right after hitting the gym again after many days. Apply the stinging branch of the nettle right on the muscle sore, and just feel your pain disappear. Be careful while picking the nettle though! You don’t want to be stung in places where it doesn’t hurt.
As a cure for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) – This is a useful application of stinging nettle that has been touted by some serious research. As a matter of fact, this is the more popular treatment for an enlarged prostate in Europe.
The medical treatment in fact decreases the size of the prostate, whereas the treatment using stinging nettle stops it from growing, and alleviates the problems caused by enlarged prostate, such as inability to urinate properly, constant desire to urinate, and incomplete urination.
As a cure for Osteoarthritis – Say goodbye to arthritic pain – apply stinging nettle topically to get rid of pesky joint pain.
Cure hay fever – Hay fever can be an annoying condition. Use nettle capsules to relieve itching and sneezing problems.
Lower blood pressure – Blood pressure and blood sugar levels can be lowered by using nettle. This has been shown in animal research, but not much research has been done on humans – yet.