Nettle tea is prepared by boiling nettle plant leaves in water for 3-5 minutes. To achieve maximum release of all antioxidants, it is good practice to “step” the leaves for an additional minute off of the heat. Few plants can really earn the reputation as a “drug store” like nettle can. Despite being one of the few plants that releases histamine, choline, formic acid and silica in their sting, nettle has many health benefits.
Though there are many species of nettle, the species that is the most promising for medicinal properties is Urtica dioica. Nettle has been shown to cleanse the blood because it contains high levels of iron which helps reduce the blood levels of sodium. Nettle tea has diuretic compounds that serves to rid the blood stream of excess sugar and therefore helps control insulin levels to some degree. Nettle tea benefits also improve kidney and liver function due to a large concentration of sterols, tannins, lipids and organic acids. Nettle tea is also a potent vasodilator and it relieves diarrhea and constipation.
Nettle is very high in the vitamins A, B1, B5, C, D, E and K. Most importantly, the vitamin A has been shown in countless clinical trials and studies to improve eyesight (especially in low light and color vision), enhance the production of epithelial cells, and contribute to immune function. The vitamin C (ascorbic acid) contributes mostly as an antioxidant absolutely essential to the immune system as it serves countless biochemical roles.
Throughout history, nettle tea has been used to treat everything. There are documented cases dating back to antiquity where this potent leaf has been used to treat tuberculosis, asthma, intestinal disorders, dysentery, spleen disorders, urinary tract infections, and even infertility. Along with increasing fertility, nettle tea benefits pregnant women as well. The tea’s high concentrations of minerals especially iron (pregnancy makes women slightly anemic), help dramatically in keeping the mother and her child safe and well nurtured throughout the pregnancy. Nettle tea should be consumed during pregnancy as the tea’s high concentrations of calcium help reduce pain during child delivery and the high concentration of vitamin K helps prevent hemorrhaging during delivery. Nettle tea has also been shown to increase the quantity and to a smaller degree the quality of breast milk.
Nettle tea can aid in weight loss. It should be drunk early in the morning when using it in conjunction with a diet. The tea has a slight laxative effect and it has been shown to discourage the body’s mechanisms to store water. Nettle tea benefits also extend to athletes or those who are employing rigorous exercise as there are documented cases of the tea aiding muscle pain, joint pain, muscle disease, and joint disease.