Benefits of Nettle Tea
Although not the first type of tea that many people choose, nettle tea is a delicious and beneficial beverage that can ease pain, soothe allergies, improve the immune system, protect the heart, optimize digestion, relieve inflammation and heal the skin, among others.
Found in Europe, Asia and North Africa, stinging nettle is the origin of nettle tea, and has the scientific name Urtica dioica. What makes this beverage particularly interesting is that five of the six main varieties of this plant are covered in small spines and trichomes, which effectively deliver histamines and other irritants into the skin when they come in contact with humans and other animals. This defensive mechanism is intended to prevent people from eating or picking the plants, but to no avail. For thousands of years, stinging nettle has been used around the world for many things, including as an herbal medicine, fiber and food source. If you soak stinging nettles in water, the chemicals that cause those painful stings is neutralized, making the plant harmless. As a food source, the leaves are a protein-dense equivalent to spinach, and those same leaves can be dried and made into nettle tea. The flowers of the plant are also commonly used in tea preparation.
The tea can be quite strong, and has a rapid effect on the body, primarily due to the flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamins and minerals found within the plant. It is particularly rich in calcium and magnesium, in far greater concentrations than other leafy green vegetables often praised for their mineral content. These nutrients can be directly accessed through nettle tea, which is why it is so highly sought out around the world. The antioxidants alone are enough to make this a healthy food, but the specific effects of this plant that have been discovered over the years makes it even more attractive to natural healers and practitioners. Now, let’s take a closer look at the many impressive health benefits of nettle tea.
Health Benefits of Nettle Tea
Skin Health: Although consistent research is slightly lacking in this area, nettle tea has traditionally been used for skincare in many parts of the world. The analgesic and anti-inflammatory abilities of nettle tea can help relieve symptoms of acne, eczema, irritation and other blemishes that mar your skin. The antioxidants contained in the tea can also help speed healing and prevent scarring from issues on the skin. You can drink the tea to get these effects, or allow the tea to cool, then topically apply it to the skin with a cloth and ensure it stays on for maximum absorption.
Kidney Health: The most promising and well researched benefit of nettle tea has to do with its effect on the kidneys. As a powerful diuretic, nettle tea can help to stimulate healthy, consistent urination and flow rate. Many people suffer from Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, which can affect a number of urinary and sexual aspects of your life, and there are few reliable treatments for it. Nettle tea has been shown to minimize those symptoms and improve prostate health, while also increasing the levels of testosterone in the body, which helps with certain sexual side effects of the condition. It can also help to prevent the development of kidney stones.
Digestion: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature of nettle tea makes it great for handling digestive issues, such as IBS, constipation, diarrhea and general stomach upset caused by bacterial imbalances in the gut. Nettle tea can help to kill intestinal worms and parasites as well, bringing your gastrointestinal health back on track and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Immune System: The flavonoids and carotenoids found in nettle tea, along with the high concentration of vitamin C, all make this beverage an effective immune system booster. Antioxidants are powerful substances that can seek out and neutralize free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause cellular mutation and chronic illness. By freeing up your immune system from fighting that oxidative stress, nettle tea can work as your first line of immune defense.
Osteoporosis: There is a huge amount of healthy minerals found in nettle tea, including calcium, magnesium and iron. Not only does this make this variety of tea excellent for people suffering from anemia, but it also helps to prevent the gradual breakdown of bone mineral density as we age. It is essential to get the minerals we need as we get older, to fight the onset of osteoporosis. The antioxidants and minerals found in this tea are excellent ways to keep your body feeling young.
Pain Relief and Inflammation: There are natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory compounds in nettles that have made them so popular throughout history. Whether using this tea to soothe the pain of a pulled muscle, a sore back, a headache, or any bump or bruise, you can often get relief before you finish your cup. External application of nettle tea can be just as effective, and more direct, but these effects are also felt when the tea is drunk.
Allergic Reactions: Ironically enough, when stinging nettles hit the skin, before being soaked down to a neutral state, they cause an intense allergic reaction on the affected site. However, the chemicals and organic compounds found in nettles also work as antihistamines if consumed as a tea. This strange reversal of effects is one of the reasons nettle tea is such a strange mystery, but if you are suffering from a strong allergic reaction, and want to counter the false alarm of your immune system, a cup of this tea will do the trick!
Heart Health: Some researchers have found that there is a connection between lower blood pressure and the regular consumption of nettle tea. The anti-inflammatory components, as well as the potassium found in nettles can both help to reduce tension in arteries and blood vessels, promoting healthier circulation and oxygenating the body properly. This can lower your chances of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular complications.
Final Word of Warning: While nettle tea does have many obvious health benefits, there are some concerns, particularly for women who are pregnant, as it can result in hormonal fluctuations that may be dangerous for fetal development. Also, if you are harvesting nettle leaves from the wild for personal use, make sure not to wait too late in the season, as certain compounds increase in concentration later in the season, namely those that can do harm to your kidneys and increase the likelihood of developing kidney stones. Before adding any new herbal remedy to your health regiment, it is always a good idea to speak with your doctor first.