Nettle: medicinal properties and contraindications, cultivation and use
Flowering nettle plant (Urtica) is a representative of the nettle family. This genus combines more than 50 different species. In the wild, they can be met in temperate regions in both hemispheres. In middle latitudes, species such as stinging nettle (lat. Urtica urens) and dioecious nettle (lat. Urtica dioica), which are also called stinging nettle, dragonfly or dragonfly, are most common. Plants belonging to these species are very valuable medicinal and food raw materials, and chlorophyll is also extracted from them on an industrial scale, which is widely used in the pharmaceutical and perfumery industries.
Such a perennial or annual plant like nettle can be dioecious or monoecious. One-piece, opposed sheet plates have a serrated, serrated or three-sided edge. On the surface of leaf blades and shoots there is often a large number of burning bristles. False spike-shaped inflorescences include staminate or pistillate flowers. The fruit is a squashed nutlet of a flat shape, which is covered with perianth.
The structure of the burning hairs of this plant, which is a fairly large cell, is similar to a medical ampoule. Inside them is juice, in its composition there is formic acid, choline and histamine. If you touch such a hair, then its upper part breaks and sticks into the surface of the skin. The juice under the skin causes a sharp burn sensation only in the place that touched the nettle. As a rule, such burns do not harm human health. However, there are several tropical species of nettle whose burns can become fatal to humans. In Russia, nettle prefers to grow near fences, in vegetable gardens, wet meadows, vacant lots, forest clearings, near roads, along the banks of water bodies, in ditches, as well as in ravines. The fact that dioecious nettle has healing properties has been known to people for a long time, in this regard, such a weed plant is grown as gardeners, and cultivated on an industrial scale.
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Nettle can grow quite normally without special care, but if it is planted in specially prepared and fertilized soil, then the growth and development of the bush will noticeably improve. Reproduction of such a plant is carried out by seeds and segments of rhizomes. Preparing seeds before sowing is not necessary, but if they are stratified for 4 weeks at an air temperature of 0–5 degrees, their germination will increase by 20–30 percent.
Stinging nettle, which is perennial, it is recommended to grow on a well-lit area or in partial shade, the soil should be sandy or nutritious and well moistened. The site must be cleaned of rhizome weed. Sowing is carried out at the beginning of spring or before winter, while the appearance of the first seedlings can occur even at an air temperature of 8 degrees. First, the seeds are mixed with sand, and then they are buried 10-15 mm into the soil, a distance of 0.6 to 0.7 m should be left between the rows. The surface of the area with crops should be covered with a thin (about 0.5 cm thick) layer of humus or peat, and if the sowing was carried out in early spring, then until the first seedlings appear, it is necessary to ensure that the soil is slightly moist all the time. If sowing was carried out before winter, the first seedlings will appear in April, and if in spring - then in May.
For nettle propagation by a vegetative method in spring, it is necessary to extract its rhizome from the soil, which is cut into pieces, while their length should vary from 8 to 10 centimeters.Then the delenki are planted in a new place to a depth of 8 centimeters, while the distance between the holes should be maintained at a distance of about 0.6 m. In nettles propagated in this way, the beginning of budding is observed 4 weeks earlier compared to grown from seeds.
The first 2 months, the seedlings will be very weak, while their growth and development will be extremely slow. But then the bushes will begin to grow very quickly, and will soon become dense and branched. There is absolutely nothing complicated in caring for this plant. He should ensure timely watering, loosening, top dressing and weeding. For irrigation, it is recommended to use water from a spring, a well or rain, while it must first be heated in the sun.
Nettle needs a large amount of nitrogen, but it is not recommended to use mineral fertilizers for feeding. It is better to replace them with rotted compost or manure.
Caring for this plant is facilitated by the fact that it is highly resistant to pests and diseases. However, caterpillars of hives butterflies can still settle on it, they will need to be collected manually in June. It is quite easy to collect them, because they settle in clusters, but do not forget about safety measures, since nettle can leave severe burns on your hands.
Nettle harvesting and storage
Nettles use rhizomes, seeds, and leaf plates as a healing raw material. Dioecious nettle foliage is harvested in June – September, when the plants bloom. Some gardeners advise collecting leaves by simply putting on gloves, others mow the grass, and when it is completely wilted, they tear off leaf plates with their bare hands. It is believed that it is best to collect foliage on Tuesday at dawn in the first quarter of the moon. According to the lunar calendars, such raw materials will have a special healing power.
The collected foliage should be laid out somewhere in a shaded place (in the attic or under a canopy), pre-spreading fabric or paper. It should be noted that the thickness of the layer should not exceed 3-5 centimeters. If they are dried in the sun, then part of the healing properties will be lost, and the leaves themselves will become colorless. To dry them, if you wish, you can use the oven, while setting the temperature to 50 degrees, and leaving the door open. In completely dried leaves, the middle veins and petioles will break without effort. They will have a mild aroma, dark green color and a slightly bitter aftertaste. It should be noted that at the output the volume of raw materials will be 1/5 of the original volume. The dried leaves need to be sorted out, while it is necessary to remove all yellow, black and brown leaf blades, as well as litter. For storage, they are poured into bags of cloth or paper, which then must be placed in a well-ventilated, dry, darkened place. Raw materials can be stored no more than two years.
Seeds of stinging and dioecious nettles should be collected only after they are fully ripe. Typically, this occurs 20 days after the plant fades in September. The upper parts of the nettle should be cut, slightly dried and threshed.
Dioecious nettle rhizomes are recommended to be extracted in spring or autumn. All dirt is removed from them, and then they are dried at a temperature of 40 degrees. For storage, choose a dark, dry and ventilated place. Rhizomes retain their beneficial qualities for three years. If you are harvesting nettle rhizomes, then keep in mind that you will need to leave 10-15 percent of the bushes on the site for renewal, because during the collection of raw materials you have to destroy the entire plant. At the same time, you need to know that at this site rhizomes can be re-collected only after 3 years.
Types and varieties of nettles with photos and names
Types of nettle with healing properties:
This herbaceous perennial plant has a strong root, while its rhizome is horizontal, branched. The height of the bush varies from 0.6 to 2 m. On the surface of all aerial parts of the plant are burning hairs. On elongated shoots are straight or ascending hollow stems. Leaves are arranged opposite to each other. Dark green simple, one-sided, equilateral leaf blades have long petioles. Their length is about 17 centimeters and a width of about 8 centimeters. The leaves may have an ovoid-lanceolate, oblong or ovoid-heart shape, less often there are elliptical plates with a deep heart base. The panicle-shaped axillary inflorescences include small light yellow unisexual flowers, pistillate and staminate. The fruit is a compressed achene of a biconvex form of pale brown or light yellow color. About 22 thousand seeds can ripen on one bush.
This annual dioecious herbaceous plant has furrowed tetrahedral erect shoots, the height of which can reach 15–35 centimeters, glandular hard hairs are located on their surface. Dark green, serrate, oppositely located leaf plates have an oval or ovoid shape, and reach a length of 20-60 mm. On their surface there is a large number of burning hairs. Small axillary flowers are painted green, they are collected in an ear or are single. Such flowers are staminate or pistillate. The fruit is a nut or a multi-seeded box.
Nettle properties: harm and benefits
Nettle leaf blades contain vitamins A, H, C, E and K, B1, B2, B4, B5, B6, B9, niacin, macro elements chlorine, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, trace elements copper, barium, aluminum, molybdenum, iron, zinc, selenium and manganese. Lemon contains a couple of times less ascorbic acid than nettle. Moreover, the amount of vitamin A in this plant is slightly higher than in sea buckthorn, carrots, spinach and sorrel. Still in this plant there are tannins, volatile, chlorophyll, flavonoids and organic acids - gallus and formic.
Foliage has a hypoglycemic and hemostatic effect, and it also fights inflammation. The leaves also contribute to an increase in hemoglobin, uterine tone, and red blood cell count. This medicinal raw material is used to treat diseases of the bladder and liver, anemia, radiculitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, rheumatism and metabolic disorders in the body. Nettle has also been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of non-infectious chronic prostatitis and prostate adenoma.
In alternative medicine, there are prescriptions for drugs that have a laxative, diuretic, anticonvulsant, wound healing, expectorant and general strengthening effect. If you use the foliage of this plant systematically, you can quickly get rid of not very large wounds and ulcers, while the nettle infusion, used as baths, compresses and lotions, can save hair from falling out. Since ancient times, such a plant has been used to treat hair, for this you need to combine 200 ml of freshly boiled water with 2 or 3 large tablespoons of dried foliage, after 1 hour, the infusion must be filtered. For the same purpose, you can use nettle broth. To cook it, you need to combine 1 tbsp. water, 1 large spoon of dried shredded rhizome and the same amount of dry foliage. The mixture is boiled for 30 minutes, and then slightly cooled. It should be rubbed into the scalp, while you do not need to wash your hair after that, they are only slightly wiped with a towel.
This plant is also used to create a nutritious mixture, which is recommended to feed tomatoes. To do this, healthy leaf plates and shoots must be cut before seeds are formed.A large container is taken and filled with nettles, which are mixed with the remains of bakery products. As a result, the container should be filled only by ¾. Then, water is added to the mixture in which the yeast must be dissolved, while the intended level cannot be exceeded. The container is placed in a sunny place for 3-5 days, which will allow the mixture to ferment, do not forget to mix it systematically. Tomatoes need to be fed with this mixture once every 7 days.
Nettle soup is very popular. Olive oil is poured into the pan and the nettles and white onions are stewed in it for 7 minutes. Salt water and boil potatoes in it, from which puree is prepared using a blender. In this case, the container with potatoes is not removed from a small fire and gradually cream, cow's butter and milk are introduced into the puree. At the end, add onions with nettle leaves and mix everything at low speeds. In soup, poured on plates, you can add grated Gaudi cheese or sour cream. For 1.5 kg of potato tubers, 0.5 l of milk, 0.3 l of cream, 2 small tablespoons of cow's butter, a bunch of fresh nettle are taken. The remaining ingredients are put to taste.
Nettle - healing properties
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You can not use nettles and products made on its basis, pregnant women, especially in the last trimester. Also, it should be abandoned to people suffering from thrombophlebitis.