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Discovering the Health Benefits of Nettle

Nettle, scientifically known as Urtica dioica, is a plant with a history that goes back thousands of years. Despite its prickly appearance and the often-unpleasant sting it can cause, this plant is a source of powerful nutritional and medicinal properties that deserves a closer look. In this article, we will look at its health benefits of nettle and how we can consume it.

To begin with, nettle belongs to the family Urticaceae (Knotweed) and is an herbaceous, native plant with more than 500 species worldwide. Its characteristic feature is the sensation it gives when it comes into contact with bare skin, causing intense itching and sensitivity. This is explained by the fact that it contains toxins in the hairs that cover it such as acetylcholine, formic acid and histamines. These toxins are neutralized when the plant is exposed to certain temperatures, such as those of boiling and roasting.


ιδιοτητες τσουκνιδας - Health benefits of Nettle

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Origin and Spreading of Nettle

Common nettle is native to Europe, Asia, North Africa, North Africa and West and North America. It is known for its adaptability and can be found growing in many different environments like forests, fields, roadsides and gardens.

Regarding the Greek countryside, it grows spontaneously in mountainous areas mainly where there is moisture. More specifically, its stem reaches a height of one meter and its flowers are small, greenish-white and odorless. The entire plant is covered with glandular hairs which, on contact with the skin, cause itching. Nettle is easily recognizable as it has characteristic pointed heart-shaped leaves covered with tiny hairs. In addition, it flowers during the summer and is collected with gloves.

Nutritional Value of Nettle

Nettle is rich in vitamin C, A, K, E, riboflavin, folate and trace elements such as silicon, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, copper, calcium and potassium. It also contains antioxidants and is a good source of protein, dietary fiber and essential amino acids. When cooked, nettle leaves cease to cause irritation and can be eaten like spinach or used in a variety of dishes such as soups, teas and smoothies.

Nettle is therefore considered highly nutritious for the body and its consumption is recommended as part of a balanced diet. In addition, its use in medicine has been widespread since ancient times, mainly as a diuretic, laxative and hemostatic.

τσαι τσουκνιδας τσαι τσουκνιδας - Nettle tea

Εικόνα από: HeikeRau

Health and Pharmaceutical Benefits

Nettle has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It has a wide range of properties such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, diuretic, anti-hemorrhagic, anti-rheumatic and anti-allergic action. In particular, the action of nettle was recorded by Chrysippus, Aristophanes and Hesiod, while in Roman times the legionaries used to rub its leaves to warm themselves. Hippocrates ranked nettle among the ‘panacea’ plants and recommended it for the treatment of 61 diseases.

Also, the Greek physician Galenos recommended nettle in his book as a diuretic, laxative and also cured gangrene, edema, nosebleeds, spleen diseases, pneumonia, asthma and many more.

The plant is often used for joint conditions and can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis and gout. Nettle leaf extract is known to have diuretic properties, meaning it can help the body eliminate waste and excess fluids contributing to kidney and urinary tract health.

Recent studies suggest that nettle leaves may also support blood sugar control, making them potentially useful for people with diabetes. At the same time, they may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure and heart health.

Nettle root, on the other hand, has been used to treat problems related to the prostate. It is believed to be effective in reducing the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a common condition that affects men as they age.

How can we Consume Nettle?

As mentioned above, the toxic effects of the plant are neutralized by boiling or cooking. Therefore, it can be used in cooking in pies, soups, boiled greens and in the form of infusion. It is very important that the plant we find is clean for consumption because of the contamination in the places where it grows.

Nettles can be cooked either on their own or with other greens. In addition, they are ideal for pies and make a delicious soup that acts as an anti-inflammatory and is highly tonic. Thanks to the diuretic properties of nettle, it helps in weight loss and the fight against cellulite.


Nettle – ideal as a healthy drink!

Add hot water (90oC, just before boiling) to fresh or dried leaves and leave for about 5 minutes. Drain and enjoy it plain or with lemon juice! It is considered a remedy for colds and coughs, while it also helps with allergic rhinitis, hypertension and other digestive system diseases.

If intended for external use, prepare in the above manner in a more concentrated decoction. That is, use 2-4 spoons in 200 grams of water. It is ideal for rheumatism, neuralgia and for rubbings.

Precautions and considerations of Nettle

While nettle offers many benefits, care should be taken when handling the plant. It is recommended that you wear gloves both when harvesting and handling it to avoid itching caused by contact with the leaf and stem trichomes.

Its consumption is considered quite safe. However, occasionally taking an extract may cause stomach upset. In addition, people with diabetes, kidney disease or urological problems who are taking anticoagulants, antiplatelet and diuretic drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should consult their doctor before incorporating nettle into their diet. It is often recommended that pregnant women avoid eating nettle due to its ability to stimulate uterine contractions.


Nettle, despite its reputation as a garden pest and its defense mechanism, is an incredibly beneficial plant. Its nutritional and medicinal properties make it valuable and like all the herbs of the Greek land it has much to offer.

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