Is it time to grasp the humble nettle?
From a dietary point of view the nettle also has a place. The Romans used it as a vegetable, and a Romanian friend of mine takes secateurs to Richmond Park, under the curious eyes of her neighbours, to crop some for supper.
Used in soups, curries or wilted rather like cooking spinach, nettles are full of iron and vitamin C – helpful for combating anaemia, fatigue and colds. So nettles are free food, healthy to eat and abundant – what’s not to like?
Nettle is used widely as a natural medicine; according to the Natural Society, the tea is an almost universal panacea; helping asthma sufferers, soothing osteoarthritis and skin problems, reducing nausea and inflammation, abating urinary infections and all the painful stuff faced through the life time of women.
In fact, once you start looking into this, the humble nettle has almost unlimited uses – steep it in hot water, use the root for this, the stalk for that... the only one that really made me wince was putting the leaves on haemorrhoids... hmm, one for the masochists, maybe.
We are of course put off nettles by their stinging hairs, which have a hollow structure like a hypodermic needle. When the tips of the hairs are broken by contact, the toxin stored in the hair is pumped into our skin.
So we should embrace the nettle. We just need to wear thick socks, long sleeves and gardening gloves.
Nettles can be used for tea, fabric and much more – just make sure you’re properly protected against the sting