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Stinging Nettle - The Weed That Bites

stinging nettles

Today I learned how Stinging Nettle got its name, and then some. Thought I'd pull a couple weeds out of my garden before running out for Mother's Day festivities.

Who needs garden gloves? I'm a Nature Girl!

Ay Carumba!!

stinging nettle

Stinging Nettle is plentiful in North America, found in every state. Its leaves and stem are covered with little hypodermic needles that serve to protect it from predators. Upon contact, those lovely needles are not only painful to the touch, they inject histamine and other chemicals that produce a painful, stinging sensation.

This is what my hand looked like afterward. Bright red with white polka dots. Lovely.

stinging nettle hand

This happened this morning, and I'm still feeling the sting. I washed the area, and applied a baking soda paste. That's helped a little, though the paste keeps crumbling onto my desk, so not practical. I read that mud and saliva work, too.

Good to remember if you're ever a contestant on Survivor.

Turns out that Stinging Nettle ain't all bad. Extracts are traditionally used as anti-inflammatory agents to treat arthritis, anemia, hay fever, kidney problems, and ironically, pain.

I've even found a number of testimonies that swear Stinging Nettle makes a tasty green, pan-roasted or blanched. Nettle tea is a favorite for many, too. Just steep the nettles in water, strain, and drink.

Right now I'm nursing a grudge with the nettle, so I'm gonna hold off on any future foraging. Soon, though, you can bet I'll be ready to bite back!

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