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Nettle – The Sum of Its Parts

Nettle – The Sum Of Its Parts

Nettle is commonly harvested for its leaves in the spring but advanced herbalists know it as a harvestable herb well into autumn. Nettle has medicinal value in the seeds and in the roots. Their use is not often mentioned in most herb books but reasearchers are picking up where Western herbalists have left off.


The alluringly nutritive value of nettle greens command center stage. They are jammed with minerals, vitamins and protein. It is easy to digest and assimilate into the blood stream. Preferred dietary suppplement for the treatment of a variety of conditions from hay fever to leg cramps to gout.

Nettle leaf has other advantages besides nutrition. The Urtica dioica species is most studied but this does not mean that other urtica species are not also medicinally useful. Nettle leaves are noted as a treatment for osteoarthritis for their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.


Nettle seeds are harvested as the weather starts to cool. There are 2 schools of thought on collecting nettle seed: green seed and brown seed. The green seed fans prefer unripe still developing nettle seeds. The brown seed fans prefer rips and ready seeds as they have complete proteins. Nettle seeds in both forms are given to patients that need help reviving their adrenal system.


Nettle root is collected after the seed can be shaken from the stalk. The “energy’ of the plant has returned to the roots. For first time nettle root collectors, be warned that nettle roots, like other riverbank perrienials,  as vast. Wait for the first good rains to soak the soil to make it easier to pull up the roots.

Nettle roots are collected for their astringent qualities. They taste fairly bland which makes them easy to combine with other herbs. Nettle root is traditionally made into a gargle for bleeding gums and mucous-rich coughs. The root is noted for its ability to inhibit the manufacture of aromtease  and increase free testosterone. Studies show that nettle root extract prevents the growth of prostate cells by 30% in as few as five days.

Sue Sierralupe

Sue Sierralupé is a Certified Master Herbalist, Master Gardener and Sustainable Landscape Specialist. She is the clinic manager and lead herbalist at Occupy Medical clinic. Sue is author of The Pocket Herbal: Medicinal Plants that Changed the World and co-author of The Practical Herbalist Herbal Folios series. Follow her blog at Herbalism Manifesto for commentary on herbs, parenting, nutrition and a whole lot more.

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