The plant is harvested in May and June before flowering when the stinging hairs are rich in histamine and serotonin. The leaves can be used to make tea, beer, wine and soup; they can also be added to cheese, scrambled eggs, salads and are the traditional ‘wrapping’ for Cornish Yarg cheese. The leaves contain both iron and vitamin C – which aids iron absorption. They also contain other minerals, especially calcium, potassium, magnesium and silicic acid, as well as phenols and flavonoids, macro and microelements, vitamins: A, K, B2, C, amine and tannin compounds, pantothenic acid, organic acids, essential oils, mineral salts.
Nettle is prescribed internally as a diuretic as it can increase elimination of sodium and urea, thus helping to ease rheumatic and arthritic conditions. And the leaves are also strongly anti-inflammatory. A nettle infusion is a good tonic, it stimulates the appetite, provides iron and fights fatigue. Externally, nettle is used for acne, eczema, greasy skin and dandruff. The compounds contained in nettle cleanse the digestive system, remove bile deposits and have also a positive effect on pancreas, liver and stomach functioning. Nettle is used in case of diseases of liver and alimentary canal, gastroenteritis and also diarrhoea. Experts in herbalism consider it even as a natural antibiotic.
Drinking infusions or adding it to salads improves metabolism and increases appetite. It is recommended to drink the infusion on an empty stomach, once a day and without sugar.