Today I am sharing a super simple spring wellness recipe using one of my favorite tonic herbs, nettles. The first time I saw nettles was at a farmers market in Portland. They looked like a fancy spearmint from far away but as I approached I noticed they were covered in fine hairs. I reached in to grab a bunch and ended up with sharp pain in my hand! I picked up the common variety of nettles in Northern Hemisphere known as stinging nettles (urtica dioica), and needless to say I have been very careful handling them since!
That sting comes from histamine which the hairs, or trichomes, inject into the skin upon contact. It can leave a burning feeling for a little while and eventually fades away. The injection also contains formic acid which can provide relief for a number of health issues including arthritis pain, gout, sciatica, hemorrhoids, and skin disorders. If foraging for wild nettles best to take a glove or pull them out of the ground.
When you cook or blend nettles the stinging hairs are no longer an issue and they are safe to eat. I was worried about this at first and overcooked my first batch of nettles. The last thing I wanted was a sore throat! I’m here to report that I’ve been eating them for years and haven’t had any problems.
Nettles are in many ways superfoods. They are ideal to consume in spring as they have many cleansing properties. Nettles are loaded with vitamins A, C, D and K and have plenty of calcium, iron and potassium. Nettles are a tonic herb meaning they promote certain feelings and specific functions in the body.
According to Chinese medicine nettles are a blood tonic, metabolic waste detoxifier and have diuretic properties. They also assist the bladder, kidneys and liver. In Ayurvedic medicine nettles are an astringent and cooling herb. Nettle increases vata and decrease pitta and kapha. Nettles can stimulate our appetite and help to fight fatigue. Nettles are often used in the treatment of seasonal allergies, anemia, arthritis, eczema and menstruation. Nettles are also one of my go-to fertility foods. Drinking 1-2 cups per day when trying to conceive can be very helpful.
Nettles are most commonly used in soups and teas. You can cook them just like you would chard or spinach and they made a great addition to pesto. I use fresh and dried nettles in this tea for extra potency ;)
The addition of fennel seeds, licorice root and star anise bring flavor and cleansing properties to the tea. It has a wonderful sweet flavor and can be consumed cool or warm.
Spring Nettle Tea
- 6 c. water
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 Tbsp. licorice root
- 2 star anise
- 1 bunch nettles, rinsed well
- 1 c. dried nettle leaf
- Pour the water into a large pot. Add the seeds, licorice root and star anise. Bring water to a boil, cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the nettles and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Turn off heat and add the dried nettles. Let stand for one hour.
- Strain and serve.
- Store tea in a glass, air tight jar for up to 1 week.
Easy right? I’ve been making a batch of this tea every week since nettles have been appearing at the farmers market. It’s a great spring tea and it offers a great deal of cleansing support.