"This cup of tea; it’s my savior."
Urtica dioica L.
Don’t rub Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) the wrong way or it will pierce your epidermis with the fine hairs on its leaves. The simple leaves appear in an opposite fashion on the stem. They are highly serrated in the margins with an overall Cordate shape to them. The plant is 2-4 feet tall and native to Europe where it has been used traditionally as a medicinal herb. When the leaves are cooked they lose their stinging tendencies and lend themselves well as a dietary supplement, a reducer of allergies, and as an herbal treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia. As drinking a tea made from the nettle can relieve urinary problems. It may do this indirectly by influencing sexual hormones.
If you are stung by the nettle it can leave small welts on your skin and can be painful. However if you are in chronic pain and are stung it can reduce the amount of pain you are in. People have used this as a remedy for chronic arthritis. The leaves have been used to make dark green dyes for camouflage in World War 2 and as a source of fiber. It is considered invasive here in the United States, but in its country of origin it supports over 40 species of insects including the Peacock butterfly and small tortoise shell butterflies.
Studying this plant has inspired me to go collect some nettle and see if it will help me with my allergies.
This simple soup is a classic dish in Ireland. This recipe calls for dried nettle leaf, but if you can get your hands on fresh nettle tops use those instead. However, extend the cooking time to 40 minutes and puree the soup in a food processor before serving.
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon whole oats
4 cups vegetable stock
4 cups dried nettle
Black pepper, coarsely ground
Melt the butter in large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the oats and cook until lightly browned, stirring continuously. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Add the dried nettle leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.”
http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21815. NYU Langone Medical Center, Website. 9/19/2013.
http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=URDI. USDA, Web Publication. 9/19/2013
http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Urtica-dioica.htm. Royal Botanical Gardens. Web publication. 9/19/2013
http://www.herbco.com/t-Nettle-Soup-a-Traditional-Irish-Recipe.aspx. Montery Bay Spice Company. Web resource. 9/19/2013
Image source: Wikipedia