This is what a stinging nettle looks like. You can cook with it, blanching it first to remove the sting, and then use it like spinach. You can also make nettle tea, which is a terrific source of iron.
However, it is called “stinging” for a reason, and grasping it may result in an irritation which can be described as a combination of burning and itching.
Now, there are people amongst us who do not get a reaction to nettles, and then there are the herbalist types who find special virtue in picking it with their bare hands. But that is a separate story. For the purposes of this study, we shall not concern ourselves with either demographic.
Note, by the way, that not all parts of the plant will hurt you. Nettle leaves, if picked without their stems, are entirely harmless. Here’s me handling one above – no problem! Rather, the irritation comes from the stems, which are covered with super-fine, sharp needles/hairs that puncture your skin and transfer chemicals that trigger a histamine reaction in humans and animals.
Not being a sucker for nettle sting, and having Thing One and Thing Two to worry about, I was happy to discover the simple home remedy I am about to share. It is truly groundbreaking… I am sure that no one ever thought of it before. In fact, I have no doubt that a Nobel Prize will follow. It is called:
Just wash the affected area with water and lather it good with any type of hand soap. Rub thoroughly and rinse. This seems to remove the nettle juice and put an end to the misery!
UPDATE: The readers have also shared their favorite stinging nettle remedies (these have not been tested by me personally):
- Kombucha SCOBY
- Burdock: squish the leaf until pulpy and rub on the affected area.
- Jewelweed: also said to work on other types of skin irritation, such as poison ivy.
- Plantain: people also say that it works for bee strings if you chew up a leaf before rubing it on – I have not tried this myself.
- The juice from the nettle plant itself: and I do believe we are talking about the liquid from inside the stems – wear your gloves this time!
- Saute stinging nettles in butter: tastes a little like asparagus! Wait, that wasn’t really a remedy – not that kind of remedy, anyway. Revenge perhaps?
Above all, it seems that certain things work for certain people, while other things work for others. So what do you think? Have you tried any of these? Or do you use something else entirely? I’d love to hear it! And, if course, a big thank-you to everyone who offered their tips already!