10 health benefits of nettle tea
Whether you use foraged fresh leaves or tea bags, nettle tea is surprisingly good for you
What is nettle tea?
Nettle tea is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the stinging nettle plant. Nettle tea has been drunk for centuries, possibly originating in China, but it is gaining popularity now for its many health benefits.
Nettle tea is made by steeping the leaves in hot water, and it has a mild spinach-like taste, although the longer you steep the tea the stronger the taste.
You can make nettle tea using freshly foraged leaves, or buy it as dried leaves (or teabags for convenience). Nettle leaves can be also used in cooking – try sautéing as a side dish, in soups, or make a pesto.
You can forage for nettles in the UK, as they are very common and can often be found in woodland and countryside areas. You will need to wear a pair of gloves to pick the leaves, but cooking or boiling them in water removes the sting.
The best time to forage for nettle leaves is late February to early March when the young leaves appear, but nettles are available until the end of Autumn. Older leaves tend to be tougher and more bitter, and it is best to avoid picking leaves from any nettles that have flowered as the leaves can contain calcium carbonate which may affect kidney health.
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Nutritional profile of nettles
90g of blanched nettles contains:
- 2.4g protein
- 0.1g fat
- 27g carbohydrate
- 6.1g fibre
- 444mcg vitamin K
- 428mg calcium
- 50mg magnesium
- 297mg potassium
Like other green leafy vegetables, nettles are high in vitamin K, which is important for healthy blood clotting. They are also a good source of vitamin A, calcium and magnesium, which help support healthy skin and bones, and help maintain a healthy immune system. They also contain fibre, some B vitamins, and other minerals such as iron and potassium.
How to make nettle tea using fresh leaves:
- Put 1 cup of nettle leaves and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan. Add more water if you prefer a weaker tea.
- Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.
- Let the leaves sit for about 5 minutes.
- Pour through a metal strainer to serve.
How to make nettle tea using dried nettle leaves:
- Put about 2 tsp of dried nettle leaves in a tea strainer in a mug, or in a teapot.
- Cover with boiling water and steep for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Is nettle tea good for you?
- Anti-inflammatory benefits
- Rich in antioxidants
- Supports bone health
- Skin-healing properties
- Can help prostrate health
- May reduce arthritic pain
- Helps balance blood sugar
- Helps maintain healthy cholesterol
- May help reduce blood pressure
- May help prevent certain cancers
What are the health benefits of nettle tea?
1. It offers anti-inflammatory benefits
Nettles have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with inflammatory disorders and reducing symptoms in conditions such as eczema, arthritis and psoriasis.
2. It's high in antioxidants
Nettle tea contains high levels of an antioxidant called phylloxanthobilin. A diet high in antioxidants helps protects our cells from damage and may reduce the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease and some cancers.
3. It helps support bone health
Nettles contain a number of vitamins and minerals that help support strong and healthy bones, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin K. They also contain high levels of boron which helps to maintain healthy calcium levels in the body and may help prevent osteoporosis.
4. It has skin-healing properties
Nettles are a natural antihistamine, as well as having anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help in the treatment of skin conditions such as acne, hives and eczema.
5. It may help with a healthy prostrate in men
The anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-viral properties of nettles have been found to help in relieving the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
6. It may reduce pain in those with arthritis
A study by Plymouth University found that stinging nettles may reduce pain and disability in those with osteoarthritis.
7. It helps to improve blood sugar levels
Nettles have been found to improve blood sugar levels by increasing insulin and the number of pancreatic β-cells in the body, which play a vital role in glucose homeostasis as they are the main source of insulin.
8. It helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels
Nettles contain a phytochemical called quercetin, which helps to decrease total cholesterol, as well as having properties that help reduce lipid levels in the blood.
9. It may help to reduce blood pressure
Some research has demonstrated that drinking nettle tea regularly may help to reduce blood pressure.
10. It may offer protective benefits against certain cancers
Some research has demonstrated that nettle tea may protect against or slow down the progression of certain cancers. This research has only been carried out in vitro so far but may offer potential benefits in human studies.
Is nettle tea safe for everyone?
Nettle tea may not be suitable for those are taking medication for high blood pressure or diabetes, or people with kidney disease or any blood clotting disorders. Always check with your GP before using nettle tea to check that it is safe for you to do so.
Some people can experience a sensitivity to nettles or nettle tea, so if you experience any symptoms such as hives, stomach discomfort or notice an itchy throat, then discontinue use.
If there are any signs of an allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, tongue or lips, then call 999 immediately, as this can be life-threatening.
The bottom line
Whether you forage for your own leaves or buy it in a more convenient teabag form, having a cup of nettle tea every day offers a range of health and nutritional benefits, from reducing blood pressure to offering protective anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.