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Health Tea

This unsung hero of the herb world is one of the few plants that walks the line between food and medicine. Despite appearances this special plant is receiving new acclaim due to it’s amazing array of health benefits plus it’s nutritional profile, and to make it even better, no need to run to the shop in search of it, because this little guy is probably growing in your back garden as we speak. Have you guessed it yet?

Nettles

Nettles are my Spirit Plant and one of my all-time favourite super foods. Honestly, If I were to be a plant it would be the Stinging Nettle, the very reason I started HealthTea (which, if you have not already, you can read about here).

Nettles pack a serious nutritional punch as well as many other therapeutic properties too. They can be found growing everywhere and thrive where many other plants do not. A pesky, annoying weed to some and a super food to others. It never ceases to amaze me how the Nettle can keep on coming back in spite of the chemical warfare that is often raged upon it. I believe the resilience of the Nettle is also what makes it so good for us.

Before we go any further can I just say that although the Nettle has a sting, (which is removed once steamed and/or dried) it is a very safe herb to take medicinally and on a regular basis with no real safety concerns. In fact, revered medical herbalist David Hoffman once said, “if in doubt, use Nettle!”

Nettles are rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, boron, strontium, copper, manganese and more plus vitamins such as A, C, K and B complex. Not to mention trace minerals and potent phytonutrients such as chlorophyll, beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, quercetin and rutin. All nutrients you will find in a good multivitamin & mineral supplement, making it one of mother natures best! If that’s not enough for you it also contains all essential amino acids needed by the human body, which is no mean feat for a plant protein source – making this a really useful vegan, natural source of protein. (check out our nettle protein powder here)

Since ancient times Nettles have been used as a nourishing tonic. In fact, I first heard about the power of nettles from my father who told me that his own mother would make a nettle tea and a nettle soup every year and feed it to her family of 12 children, knowing that would keep them healthy all year long and stave off colds and flus. Now at that time she wouldn’t have known the exact nutrients that were in the nettle, she just knew it was nutritious and helped her family stay healthy. Simple. I wonder when exactly we lost that connection to nature and the plants around us? That knowing of nature and trusting it to provide us with everything we need to live and thrive.

As well as being a natural multivitamin & mineral supplement, Nettle Leaf also makes a wonderful cleanser with mild diuretic properties to support the body especially the liver in the removal of toxins. Not just a one show pony, nettles will give you a good spring clean, while at the same time replenishing so quite literally putting back in the good stuff as it clears out the bad. They are considered an excellent herb for children, especially with aches and pains such as growing pains, or with conditions such as childhood arthritis. It is used regularly to support adult arthritis and achy joints. You will often see Nettles included in teas and tonics specific for the reproductive system of both men and women. It is perfectly safe and recommended for use during pregnancy to provide extra nutrition and can help with the general feeling of tiredness often experienced when pregnant. I was pregnant myself with my third child when I discovered the power of nettles to treat my anaemia and support my health. I still use it regularly in almost all my HealthTea blends to fortify and build strength & energy from within. When taken regularly, Nettles, which have a natural antihistamine are the perfect natural remedy for treating allergies and hay fever.

One of the easiest and best ways to reap the benefits of this super plant is through steeping the leaves in boiling water and drinking the tea. The longer you can leave them steep the better and the more nutritious your drink becomes, which is why I always recommend a steeping time of no less than 10 minutes for all

HealthTea’s. Personally, I adore the fresh smell and earthy taste of pure Nettle, to me there really is nothing better but I do realise that not everyone is as in love with them as I am. That is why I created iron-brew, HealthTea’s first ever tea blend, the one that started it all (again, if you haven’t already, you can read about it here) a nutritious combination made up primarily of Nettles, rounded off with Peppermint and other nutritious super herbs grown and harvested from my back garden here in Ireland. Now, I use it in nearly all of our HealthTea blends because it is so beneficial. 

If after reading this I have inspired you to head off on a Nettle hunt, and I really hope I have, my only piece of advice for you is to wear gloves!! Especially if it is your first time. There is this old Irish rhyme I came across that I wish I had known as a child and goes:

If you gently grasp a nettle, It will sting you for your pains.

Grasp it tightly like a rod of metal, And soft as silk it remains.

Honestly, I have not yet been brave enough to try this myself but feel to give it a go and let me know how you get on. Update –  I’ve tried this and it really works! I promise you, take a deep breath and grab that nettle with all your might it will not sting you. Pinky promise.

You may have heard of Urtication!? A once popular remedy for arthritis in Roman Times, where they flogged the swollen joints with stalks of nettle to relieve the pain. Now I have absolutely no idea if this works nor am I recommending it, in fact I have yet to come across anyone that has tried it but it’s always good to know these things.

So back to Nettle harvesting. Pick the healthiest looking nettle tops which usually means starting in Spring and picking the leaves right into Autumn before they go to flower. You can add them into everything from soups to tea to pesto or simply steamed as a side dish just like spinach. Don’t forget that sting!!! Formic acid, the chemical responsible for the Nettle’s sting is destroyed by heating, soaking, drying and/or mashing.

Once you start introducing this feisty green beauty into your daily diet, you may find yourself starting to crave its goodness every day. I know I did and a lot of people who drink my Iron Brew feel the same. Nettles are completely safe for long term use and you will not regret drinking or eating a daily dose of Nettles, your body will thank you.

I would love to hear how you enjoy your nettles, or if not, why? If you have any questions or comments drop me a line below. Have you a spirit plant? A certain herb or plant that you have a strong affinity for or is that just me?

About

Hi, I’m Róisín Sheridan, founder and creator of HealthTea. My 3 main passions in life are people, nature and health, although not always in that order...

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