The Herbal Superstar that is Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica)

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I discovered stinging nettles when my kids started displaying allergies, but also had health issues that made over the counter allergy medicine complicated. It is hands down in the top five plants and herbs I like to keep in my apothecary stash.  That stash has grown and grown over the years to include several dozen herbs, many of which I do try to grow or wildcraft now.  We use nettles in tea, pills, tinctures, salves, and in cooking on the homestead.  In fact, today’s dinner will be a sausage, potato, onion, garlic, and nettle soup. All grown here on the little suburban lot (nettles were grown at our acreage, venison for the sausage harvested there and mixed here).  So why do I love this spiky little devilish plant that will sting you and leave your skin burning for a few hours (especially if you rub it, ask me how I know)? Because it is one of the most versatile medicinal plants out there with the least amount of side effects.  *A side note about the sting, saliva can help neutralize the formic acid.

Stinging Nettle

Growing: It prefers rich, fertile soil with partial shade/sun.  You can dig up runners and transplant, and because of this it can be hard to contain.

Uses: Herbal, medicinal, culinary, veterinary, animal feed, horticultural,  fiber (cotton & linen).

Edible Parts: leaf, root, seed

How it can be used:

Tea: As a mix or on its own

Pills: you can buy pill makers or make balls yourself

Tinctures: These are made with alcohol (shelf life of, many years), vinegar (shelf life of about a year), or vegetable glycerine (shelf life of, 2-3 years).

Salves: Usually beeswax, some oil (I prefer tallow)

Urtication: Bundles of fresh leaves and stems used to sting oneself to improve inflammation.

Culinary: soups, pestos, teas, nettle beer, added to flours for pasta, etc…

Veterinary: I’d do some research on this for your specific animal and consult your vet, but it appears many animals can benefit from its uses. It can help dogs with inflammation and allergies. It can assist horses in laminitis, as well as many other uses.  In one study it has been shown to reduce parasites in broiler chickens.

Animal Feed: It contains more protein than other green plants and can be used as a feed.

Horticultural: They can be used as a mulch, compost addition, and as a spray for fertilizer and bugs. Stinging nettle fermented tea.

There is a long list of ailments people use stinging nettles for.

Gout, rheumatism, skin issues such as eczema, hormones (men and women), prostate, PMS, lactation, digestion, exhaustion, kidneys, urinary, diuretic, liver, colon, is thought to be a prebiotic, help adrenal function, and so much more. I have listed many links here for you to follow and do some reading and research on. It is a deep rabbit hole you can go down for hours.


Stinging nettles are a nutritional powerhouse.  The nutritional content will depend on if you eat fresh, dried leaves or cooked ones (dried, steamed, or boiled leaves do not have the sting). Fresh leaves obviously would need careful consumption, I have never tried to consume them this way. But one of my reference  books suggests rolling the leaves up with the stingers inside the leave and consuming this way.  You can buy tinctures, salves, dried leaves, seeds and roots in bulk.  I did this for years until I started my own bed of nettles which I am still expanding, you can purchase seeds many places.  Strictly Medicinals is one of my favorite companies for medicinal seeds and plants.


Tallow Stinging Nettle Salve:

Good for skin issues and irritation.

Canning jar that can handle some heat

95-110 F oil (I use a mix of olive and tallow, tallow alone would be too hard) 1/3 tallow & 2/3 olive oil poured over Nettles. Make sure it is covered with 1-2″ of oil. Place lid on it.

Let it sit in a warm sunny place for 4-6 weeks. Shake daily.


Add up to 1/4 cup of melted beeswax.  You can use a plate to put some of the mixture onto it and let it cool off to test and get your desired consistency.

Store in an airtight container.

Tallow has its own healing benefits for the skin.  You can mix in other herbs like comfrey, lavender, and so on.

Links to more studies:

Nettles Study

Nutrition of Nettles

Chicken Feed

Mount Sinai- uses with children

You will not want to skip reading the above studies.  My guess is you will be seeking to buy or grow some nettles once you do. What an amazing plant!  It truly is a superstar, don’t ask me why it doesn’t get more attention.

Affiliate Links

I do make some financial benefit off of the links below through the Amazon affiliate program.  Thank you for your support!

Frontier Nettle Leaves

Starwest Botanicals Nettle Root

Nettles for Dogs and Cats

I want to remind you that I am not a doctor, medical professional or even an herbalist. Through this journey I have learned what works for our family.  Consult a professional for advice.



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