Growing up on the edge of a thicket, I learned very, very early on to avoid the heart-shaped leaves of the nettle plant at all cost. Too many times I spent lying in bed, unable to get to sleep, as I was driven crazy by the itchy bumps on my arms and legs caused by contact with the nettle plant. They were no good in my book and something to be beat down with a big stick whenever I saw them.
Imagine my surprise when, as an adult venturing into the holistic world, I learned that nettles are praised as bringing relief to an amazingly long list of ailments! How can this prickly bush actually contain anti-inflammatory ingredients that help relieve acne and eczema when it used to make my skin so red and irritated? Won’t drinking nettle tea sting the inside of my mouth and internal organs? The answer is simply, “no”.
When the nettle leaves are boiled, the nettle “stingers” are destroyed, leaving behind a leaf chock full of minerals and vitamins that help relieve asthma, joint pain, menstrual cramps, skin ailments and even make your hair healthier and stronger!
Most herbalists recommend a safe consumption of two to four cups of nettle tea a day; anything more than that may cause diarrhea. Additionally, you may want to build up to those two or four cups for that same reason – nettle tea is a powerful diuretic that flushes your system clean; your body needs to build up a tolerance to it! And if you want to get your kids on the nettle tea healthy bandwagon, keep in mind that their dosage should be about half of the adults’ daily dosage or whatever their pediatrician recommends.
Again, because everyone is different, some people may experience a mild stomach ache after ingesting nettle tea (another reason why it is smart to start small in your dosage). These cases are more often than not caused by an impure source of the nettle leaves. A rash on the skin that appears after drinking nettle tea may be a sign of a nettle allergy. This should be investigated with your doctor prior to consuming more tea (unless you like to scratch!).
As with any natural remedy, it is always best to get your doctor’s go-ahead prior to trying out nettle tea as everyone’s body and needs are different; you also need to check if drinking nettle tea will interact negatively with any current medication you are taking (natural or otherwise), especially if you are taking blood thinners. Nettle tea is very rich in Vitamin K, which helps prevent blood clots, but causes issues for those on blood thinning medication. The same goes for those taking medication for lowering blood pressure or managing diabetes; nettle tea will enhance these medications, causing blood pressure and sugar levels to dip dangerously low.
Above all, use common sense. If you try nettle tea and like, that’s great! But don’t drink in constantly. And of course, if you have any negative reaction, stop and either reduce the amount of nettles or if it happens again, speak with your doctor.