You might be put off the idea of drinking a nettle infusion, especially if you aren’t a big fan of herbal teas but hear me out! Nettle infusion is highly nourishing and replenishing, and if the taste isn’t to your liking there are ways of making nettle more palatable. It’s absolutely worth it because of all the health benefits.
“Nettle infusion is perfect for supporting individuals who are feeling depleted and tired due to its high mineral content” (1)
Nettle is rich in minerals. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, chromium, iron, selenium and zinc are important for supporting balanced blood sugar levels (2). Stable blood sugar levels are crucial for energy, balanced moods, concentration, sleep and weight management, amongst many other things. There are different factors that can contribute to unstable blood sugar levels. A few examples include:
- Chronic stress
- Sleep deprivation
- Frequent or long-term dieting
- Eating a diet heavy in refined carbohydrates and sugar
- Artificial sweeteners
- Eating a diet depleted of the nutrients needed to support blood sugar balance
- Unmanaged insulin resistance or uncontrolled diabetes
Unstable blood sugar levels can result in feelings of anxiety, cravings, weight gain, headaches, dizziness, low energy, poor sleep and poor concentration (3). Nettle infusion can support balanced blood sugar levels by restoring key nutrients needed for balancing blood sugar.
My Journey with Nettle Infusion
I personally wasn’t keen on nettle for a while due to the taste. However, I had only tried nettle using the tea bags rather than making my own infusion. Nettle infusion tastes so much fresher and nicer! After having a hip replacement in May 2018, I was feeling really depleted and drained for weeks on end (despite eating a good quality diet and starting back on my usual supplements). So I finally decided to give nettle infusion a proper go (drinking 3-4 cups a day) because of all the beneficial properties I’d read about.
“After my surgery, I was feeling so tired, I couldn’t concentrate, I felt like I couldn’t quench my thirst, and I was craving sweet foods ALL THE TIME”.
The surgery had really knocked me back and depleted me of minerals and electrolytes. I lost quite a lot of blood during the surgery and my blood pressure was very low for several days afterwards. And all the different drugs left me feeling rather ill for quite some time.
I can gladly say that within a couple of weeks of drinking nettle infusion, I was feeling much more replenished. I wasn’t thirsty all the time, my cravings diminished and my energy was increasing. I now love nettle infusion and drink it most days.
So what are the benefits?
Nettle (Urtica dioica) powder is one of the richest sources of minerals among plant foods. It’s a rich source of calcium (164mg/100g) and iron (277mg/100mg) followed by potassium, magnesium, zinc, sodium and selenium (1). Calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium are the four main electrolytes in the body. These electrolytes are needed for regulating blood pressure, pH balance and fluid balance. They support the function of every cell and organ in the body, including nerve signalling. Calcium, as we know is important for bone, muscle and nerve function – exactly what I needed support with after a hip replacement!
Nettles are also a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C (4) which work as anti-oxidants in the body, reducing inflammation and supporting immune function.
“Nettle is highly anti-inflammatory”
Several studies have shown beneficial effects of nettle against:
- Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis: due to its high anti-inflammatory action (5)
- Diabetes: nettle lowers blood sugar levels and increases insulin secretion to regulate blood sugar levels) (6)
- Prostate enlargement and urinary tract infections (7)
- Hay fever: nettle blocks histamine and other inflammatory chemicals involved in allergic reactions (8)
- High blood pressure: nettle relaxes blood vessels, reducing blood pressure (9)
How to make a nettle infusion
- Add 3 heaped tablespoons of organic dried nettle leaves to 1.5 litres of hot water (slightly off the boil).
- Leave it to steep for 4 hours or overnight if possible, which will allow more time for the beneficial nutrients to seep into the water (this is why nettle infusion is much more potent and beneficial than using nettle tea bags which you only steep for a few minutes)
- Once steeped, strain using a tea strainer, pour into a large jug and refrigerate until needed
- When required, fill half a cup with the nettle infusion and top up with boiling water. You can drink it without diluting it, although the infusion is quite concentrated. It depends on your tastes
- If you want to add another flavour, I sometimes add a raspberry leaf or peppermint tea bag to the cup. You could use fennel or liquorice too. You could also add your choice of tea bag to the jug when steeping
Drink 3-4 cups a day and enjoy the benefits!
You can also add fresh nettle to soups and stews.
Nettle can interact with some medications so it’s important to seek advice from your healthcare provider or a healthcare professional before using nettle. According to the Natural Medicines Database (10) nettle interacts with the following:
Anti-diabetic drugs: nettle can lower blood sugar levels which may increase the risk of hypoglycaemia with anti-diabetes drugs
Blood pressure medication: nettle can lower blood pressure which may increase the risk of hypotension with blood pressure lowering drugs
Sedatives: nettle can have a depressant effect on the central nervous system. Theoretically, there may be additional sedative effects when using nettle along with sedative drugs
Lithium: nettle can reduce the body’s ability to remove lithium and therefore the dose may need to be lowered if taking this medication
Diuretics: nettle has diuretic properties, increasing the amount of water and sodium removed from the body. Taking diuretics with nettle may cause dehydration.
Blood thinners: nettle contains vitamin K which aids blood clotting, therefore nettle may impair the effect of blood thinning medication such as warfarin
Interactions aside, nettle really is a powerful plant when it comes to providing a number of amazing health benefits: it’s anti-inflammatory, high in anti-oxidants, high in minerals, blood pressure lowering and blood sugar lowering (to name just a few). I am so glad I gave nettle infusion a try. If you have any inflammation, feel depleted or have unstable blood sugar levels, I highly recommend drinking nettle infusion. Let me know if you’ve tried nettle infusion and how it’s helped you. How do you drink yours?!
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1. Adhikari, B.M., Bajracharya, A. and Shrestha, A.K., 2016. Comparison of nutritional properties of Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) flour with wheat and barley flours. Food Science and Nutrition, 4(1), pp.119–124.
2. Siddiqui, K., Bawazeer, N. and Joy, S.S., 2014. Variation in macro and trace elements in progression of type 2 diabetes. TheScientificWorldJournal, [online] 2014(Figure 1), p.461591. Available at: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25162051%0Ahttp://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=PMC4138889>.
3. Kalra, S., Mukherjee, J., Ramachandran, A., Saboo, B., Shaikh, S., Venkataraman, S., Bantwal, G. and Das, A., 2013. Hypoglycemia: The neglected complication. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, [online] 17(5), p.819. Available at: <http://www.ijem.in/text.asp?2013/17/5/819/117219>.
4. Rutto, L.K., Xu, Y., Ramirez, E. and Brandt, M., 2013. Mineral properties and dietary value of raw and processed stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.). International Journal of Food Science, 2013.
5. Johnson, T.A., Sohn, J., Inman, W.D., Bjeldanes, L.F. and Rayburn, K., 2013. Lipophilic stinging nettle extracts possess potent anti-inflammatory activity, are not cytotoxic and may be superior to traditional tinctures for treating inflammatory disorders. Phytomedicine, 20(2), pp.143–147.
6. Amiri Behzadi, A., Kalalian-Moghaddam, H. and Ahmadi, A.H., 2016. Effects of Urtica dioica supplementation on blood lipids, hepatic enzymes and nitric oxide levels in type 2 diabetic patients: A double blind, randomized clinical trial. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, [online] 6(6), pp.686–695. Available at: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28078249%0Ahttp://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=PMC5206926>.
7. Safarinejad, M.R., 2005. Urtica dioica for Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study. Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy, 5(4), pp.71–114.
8. Cruz-Vega, D., Verde-Star, M.J., Salinas-Gonzalez, N.R., Rosales-Hernandez, B., Estrada-Garcia, I., Mendez-Aragon, P., Carranza-Rosales, P., Gonzalez-Garza, M. and Castro-Garza, J., 2009. Nettle Extract (Urtica dioica) Affects Key Receptors and Enzymes Associated with Allergic Rhinitis. Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi = Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi = China journal of Chinese materia medica, 23(January 2009), pp.920–926.
9. Qayyum, R., Qamar, H.M. ud D., Khan, S., Salma, U., Khan, T. and Shah, A.J., 2016. Mechanisms underlying the antihypertensive properties of Urtica dioica. Journal of Translational Medicine, 14(1), pp.1–13.
10. Natural Medicines Database. 2018. Interaction Checker: Nettle. [ONLINE] Available at: . [Accessed 2 September 2018].