The wonderful stinging nettle goes by many other folk names in Europe, `devils claw, burn nettle and burn weed´  are just a few.


In past times it was believed that the spirit of a nettle had strong healing power, power so powerful that a sickness could be rid of by plucking a nettle by the roots and reciting the name of the sick person!.


In `The Book of Secrets of Alburtus Magnus´ it is said "He that holdeth this herb in his hand with a herb called Yarrow, is sure from all fear and fantasy. And if it be put with the juice of houseleek, and the bearers hand be anointed with it, and the residue be put in water; if he enter in the water where fishes be, they will gather together to his hands."


Nettles were always regarded as a  main source of nutrition when other sources of food were scarce throughout Europe.


Old folk usage of using nettles were to make cloth (nettle cloth being as strong as hemp and as soft as cotton!). The stem fibres were spun and made into cloaks and shrouds.


Ancient European burial mounds have been discovered dating more than 5000 years old with the dead people shrouded in nettle cloth!.


Nettle leaves produce a green dye which can be used to dye clothing. The roots themselves can be boiled together with alum to produce a yellow dye!


Nettles are still to this day used as spell breakers!

A simple spell breaker can be made by crushing up dried nettles into a powder and putting the powder into some linen and wearing it as a spirit bag around the neck.


The dried leaves can also be burned, incense style in the corners of the room or a doorway to chase out any unwanted spirits.


Nettle Tee

Nettle tee is a fine tonic, great for anyone with low energy or lack of iron and its easy to prepare...


Steep the dry or fresh leaves in boiling water for 6 minutes, remove the leaves if preferred and drink.


Nettle tea is also a great internal cleanser getting to work in the kidneys, liver and urinary tract.


Nettle tea can also be very helpful to pregnant mothers to keep them strong and healthy and increase milk production.


Another well known remedy to heal rheumatism is to smack the affected area with fresh nettles...


the stings relieve the pain and completely energise the affected area.


Nettle Seeds

Havesting nettle seeds should be done with care and respect, this area of the nettle plant harbours a remarkable amount and variety of insect life so be in harmony with the plant when receiving.  


The old herbal tradition way of harvesting nettle seeds is to cut the full nettle stems and hang them for a few days thus giving the insects time to escape and find a new home. Once dry, strip off the strands of seeds and rub them through a sieve, giving a beautiful harvest of dried nettle seeds!


The seeds themselves are rich in iron and perhaps not as comfortable as the leaves for the internal system so its best bet to use them moderately.


Another note worth mentioning is not to over harvest, feel what the plant feels and only take when the herb is in abundance!.



Steamed for 10 - 15 minutes, nettles make a totally great dish on their own. Sprinkle with black pepper and olive oil for a wonderful meal.


They can also be added to any recipe, whether it be curry sauce or pasta sauce instead of spinach.


So look after the nettles, they are not so bad as they seem, and a final note worth mentioning is,some of our finest butterflies (small torteishell and admiral) relay on them for their colonies of eggs to become.


Peter Carvello

February 2024