Common Nettle

Common Nettle

Urtica dioica

A good wild plant to start with, being familiar to most of us from painful and often memorable introductions in childhood but it will certainly make amends when carefully gathered, providing a tasty and highly nutritious addition to many dishes.

Nettles are packed full of goodness, a rich source of iron and calcium, they contain lots of beneficial minerals and vitamins such as potassium, vitamin A and vitamin K. They also contain silica, beneficial for hair and nails, and can be used as a hair tonic.
The chemical compound formic acid is what causes the pain when stung; the word formic is derived from the Latin formica meaning ant and is indeed the same cause of pain as when stung or bitten by various ant species.
When nettles are cooked the stings are disarmed and the natural levels of formic acid are easily digested and passed safely through the body, whilst benefitting from the anti-bacterial properties.

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