If you’re familiar with stinging nettle, there’s a high chance that it’s for the wrong reason. If you’re one of the unlucky people who’ve been stung by this plant, you’ve probably vowed to stay away from it forever. However, that might just change as numerous studies show that nettle tea may actually help you lead a healthier life. The only thing is to just make sure you don’t get stung again.
What Is Nettle Tea?
Nettle tea is an herbal infusion made from stinging nettle leaves, and, in some cases, even its roots. In fact, drinking nettle tea for health purposes have been done for hundreds of years, with early civilizations using nettle to reduce swelling caused by arthritis, and to relieve muscle aches, kidney problems and seasonal illnesses. Nettle’s medicinal properties were especially prized in rural and poor areas because of its availability.1
Nettle tea is rich in a variety of vitamins and nutrients, making it a worthy herb for you to add to your diet. It was even dubbed as a “trophorestorative” herb, which means it may help repair an organ or organ system. Specifically, nettle aids in restoring the kidneys and adrenals, mainly due to its diuretic property.2
Nowadays, nettle tea is available in numerous health stores and food shops. There are also infusions that feature other herbs and spices. For additional flavor and nutrition, nettle tea may be brewed with raspberry leaves, lemon balm and alfalfa.3 You may also use fresh leaves if you have a nearby source. Harvesting the leaves may be a challenge in and of itself, but once you are aware of the plethora of vitamins and nutrients the plant contains, you’ll know it’s worth it.
What Benefits Can You Get From Nettle Tea?
Nettle tea is loaded with numerous chemical constituents that can benefit people. Some of the health benefits you can get by drinking nettle tea include the following:
- Functions as a diuretic. Nettle tea may help regulate blood pressure and abate edema by promoting the excretion of sodium and excess water.4
- May reduce hay fever symptoms. Drinking nettle tea may reduce histamine reactions, which may help alleviate hay fever symptoms. This herb works by decreasing the histamine circulating in the body, which is responsible for the inflammation of the nasal passages and throat.5
- May improve benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms. Studies suggest that nettle tea may be used to mitigate BPH symptoms by fighting decreased urinary flow, incomplete bladder emptying and post-urination dripping. But compared to usual BPH medications, nettle tea does not cause any known side effects observed in conventional treatments, which include decreased prostate size.6
- May ease eczema. Stinging nettle contains blood-purifying properties, which may help in cleansing the blood of possible toxins that can cause eczema. It is also anti-inflammatory, reducing the swelling and discomfort caused by the rashes.7
- Alleviates inflammation. Nettle tea contains high amounts of anti-inflammatory properties comparable to the effect of NSAIDs in the body. The good news is that nettle tea does not expose you to any of the possible side effects that accompany NSAIDs, which include a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.8
Does Nettle Tea Contain Caffeine?
While nettle tea may provide drinkers with an energy boost, it doesn’t contain any caffeine. This means that you can benefit from it without suffering from any of the side effects of caffeinated drinks, which include anxiety, insomnia and a raised heart rate.
You can drink nettle tea in the morning to get that morning kick without the fear of suffering from an energy crash in the afternoon or having problems sleeping during your bedtime.9
Brew Your Own Nettle Tea With These Easy Steps
You can brew nettle tea using teabags, dried leaves or freshly cut nettle leaves. If you’re lucky enough to have saved a few nettle plants in your garden instead of plucking them all out, make your way over there now. Just be careful not to handle the leaves with your bare hands. Use gloves or tongs to avoid being stung by the small hairs on the stems and leaves.
Once you’ve safely harvested a few cups of nettle leaves, you can now brew your own tea. Here’s a recipe from The Tea Talk you can follow:10
Fresh Leaf Nettle Tea Recipe
• 1 cup of fresh, young nettle leaves
• 2 to 3 cups of water
• Raw honey, optional
1. Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil on a stovetop.
3. Reduce heat and let simmer for five to ten minutes.
4. Strain the leaves out and pour into mugs. Serve.
You can also choose to use dried leaves or a nettle teabag. If you're planning on brewing some with dried tea leaves, here's a guide you can follow:
Dried Leaf Nettle Tea Recipe
• 1 nettle tea bag or 1 tablespoon of dried nettle leaves
• 8 ounces of hot water
1. Put the teabag or dried nettle leaves in a tea infuser and put it in a mug.
2. Pour the hot water onto the cup, and cover.
3. Let the tea steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Note that steeping it longer will make the tea stronger.
4. Remove the teabag or tea leaves. Serve.
(Adapted from The Tea Talk)
How Do You Store Nettle Tea?
Before you think about storing nettle leaves, you should first know how and when to harvest. Nettle tea enthusiasts note that nettle leaves are best harvested young. If you’re planning on using the leaves for tea, pick the leaves before they start to produce flowers. Make sure you wear protective gear, like long-sleeved clothing, long pants and work gloves. While the precautions may seem like a bit of a hassle, you can rest assured that the benefits nettle tea offers are worth the extra struggle. Here’s a simple guide on cutting nettle leaves:
- Place your fingers on the front and back of the leaf and cut the stem.
- Choose the top leaves of the nettle plant.
- After you’ve harvested enough, place them in a colander and run cold water over them to remove dirt.
Take note that you can keep your freshly harvested nettle in your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer for about two to three days.11
You can also dry your nettle leaves for better storage. You can use a dehydrator or you can hang them up to dry. You can follow these steps from Getty Stewart to dry your nettle leaves successfully:12
- Tie five to six stems of nettle with a kitchen string. Make sure that you don’t tie too many branches together as this will make them harder to dry out.
- Hang the bundles in a clean, dry and dark area of your house. The leaves may take one to three weeks to dry out, depending on the room’s humidity and the maturity of the leaves you gathered.
- Store the dried leaves in paper bags or sealed glass containers. Avoid using plastic containers as they promote condensation, spoiling your leaves.
Side Effects and Contraindications for Nettle Tea
While nettle tea may provide you with a wide range of health benefits, take note that it can also cause a handful of side effects, especially if it’s your first time drinking it. You may suffer from a mild upset stomach, fluid retention and diarrhea. If you chose to use it as a topical solution, nettle tea cause hives and rashes.13
Aside from these, you should also be aware that nettle may interfere with certain medications, mainly increasing their effect on the body. If you’re taking any of the following medicines, it’s best that you stay away from this tea:14
- Blood-thinning drugs. Because of the blood-thinning properties of nettle tea, drinking it with other medications that share the function may magnetize their effect. This might expose you to a higher risk of bleeding or hemorrhaging, especially during surgery.
- Medications for high blood pressure. Drinking nettle tea may lower your blood pressure, increasing your medication’s effect on your body. Some of the medicines that you should not take with nettle tea include captopril, enalapril, losartan and amlodipine.
- Diabetes drugs. Taking diabetes medications with nettle tea may cause abnormally low blood sugar levels. If you’re planning on drinking nettle tea, make sure that you consult your doctor to ensure that you’re not unknowingly exposing yourself to the risk of hypoglycemia.
Nettle should not be used during pregnancy due to the limited studies that tackle its safety. Drinking nettle tea during the first trimester may also trigger uterine contractions. This may lead to preterm labor or even miscarriage.15
Sip on Nettle Tea to Get a Health Boost
Nettle may not be one of the most loved herbs in the world, but it surely compensates through its many nutrients. Behind its rough exterior, nettle can actually offer you so much. However, if you’re one of those people who just don’t want to risk getting stung, the good news is that there are now numerous ways that you can benefit from this herb, and drinking nettle tea is one of them.
If you’re trying to naturally improve your health, brewing your own batch of nettle tea would be a good start. Just make sure that you’re getting your dried tea leaves, fresh leaves or nettle teabags from trustworthy sources to ensure you’re getting the best quality. You should also take note of the numerous side effects of this tea to prevent unexpected complications from happening.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Nettle Tea
Q: What is nettle tea good for?
A: Nettle tea has been used for hundreds of years to treat numerous body conditions. Today, studies show that it can help alleviate inflammation, positively influencing conditions like arthritis and pain disorders. It also helps reduce allergies and hay fever symptoms.16
Q: Where can I buy nettle tea?
A: If you’re not from a region where you can freely pick nettle leaves from your backyard, you can buy loose nettle leaves or teabags from various food and health stores. There are also online merchants that may just have what you’re looking for. Just make sure that you’re getting them from trustworthy and organic sources so you know you’re getting high-quality nettle tea.
Q: Is nettle good for your hair?
A: While there have been no clear studies on the effectiveness of nettle for hair health, this herb is commonly used to treat hair loss. You can either drink nettle tea, or topically apply diluted nettle oil to help strengthen your hair roots.17
Q: How do I dry nettle leaves for tea?
A: You can dry your own nettle leaves by using a dehydrator or hanging bundles up in a clean, dry and dark area of your house. If you do not own a dehydrator, manually drying leaves may take up to three weeks, depending on the temperature of the room and the maturity of the leaves you’ve harvested.18
Q: Is nettle tea safe during pregnancy?
A: Nettle tea might look tempting for pregnant women due to its high nutrient and vitamin content, but nettle tea use during pregnancy is not advisable. Aside from the insufficient studies on its safety, nettle tea may also cause premature uterine contractions, triggering early labor or miscarriage.19
Q: How much nettle tea can I drink?
A: You can drink roughly three to four cups of nettle tea per day, but make sure to increase your water intake to replenish the liquids that you’re losing due to the tea’s diuretic properties.20 However, it would be best to consult a health practitioner for you to determine the correct amount of nettle tea you’re permitted to drink per day.
Q: Does nettle tea have caffeine?
A: Nettle may have energy boosting properties, but it does not contain any caffeine. Caffeine-sensitive people may drink this tea without the risk of any caffeine-related complications.21