The nettle is a medicinal herb used fresh to make juice or soup, or it can also be dried and used to make nettle tea. Many people, from the ancient Greeks to Europeans and North Americans, used the herb. While the leaves are processed to make nettle juice, the root of the plant can also be used, too.
About the Nettle
Nettle, also known as the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), is widely found throughout the United States in forests, parks and sometimes even backyards, where it is better known as a perennial weed. Nettles have fine hairs, or “spines,” along the entire stem and leaf portions of the plant, which, when touched, create an irritating chemical reaction that produces a burning and stinging sensation. It is this sensation that gives stinging nettles their name. Nettle juice is made by squeezing or, less commonly, blending the leaves of the nettle plant.
Making Nettle Juice
Nettle juice is most commonly made fresh to order, although you can also sometimes purchase it at health food stores. Nettle juice is dark green in color and is usually consumed in 1-ounce portions because the flavor is strong and the nutrient quantity high. You can make nettle juice by juicing only the leaves or the leaves and stem of the plant or by blending the leaves with water. Combine 2 cups of nettle leaves with 1 cup of water to make nettle juice in a blender, or juice 4 cups of nettle leaves to make a one-half cup of nettle juice with a juicer.
Fresh nettle leaves are low in calories, with only 1 calorie per 3-gram serving. With no fat, sodium, cholesterol, protein or sugar per serving, and virtually no fiber, nettle leaves are nonetheless rich in nutrients. A 3-gram serving of fresh nettles has 7 percent of your daily value of vitamin C and 1 percent of your DV of iron for a person on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. A single serving also has 87 percent of the DV of calcium. Calcium is needed to keep your bones and teeth strong, and it aids with the contraction and restriction of your blood vessels and muscles.
According to the University of Maryland, nettle and its juice help reduce pain in muscles and joints. While nettle leaves produce pain when you touch them, they actually reduce pain when introduced to an already hurting area. Nettle juice has also been used to treat eczema, arthritis, gout and anemia, as well as tendonitis and insect bite pains. A diuretic, nettle was traditionally used to treat joint pain in medieval Europe.
Helps With Prostate Health
Stinging nettle is commonly used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, an enlargement in the prostate gland. In a study published in 2013 in the "Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal," adults with BPH who were treated with stinging nettle showed significant reduction in the symptoms of BPH than those who received a placebo. The clinical trial was conducted three times with three different groups, and in all studies, the conclusions were similar.
- Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide: Stinging Nettle
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Stinging Nettle
- University of Utah: Nettle
- Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal: The Efficacy of Stinging Nettle (Urtica Dioica) in Patients with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Randomized Double-Blind Study in 100 Patients
- Linus Pauling Institute: Calcium
- MyFitnessPal: Stinging Nettles -- Fresh