Introduction to Nourishing Herbal Infusions – Nettle

Many people have jumped on the green juice bandwagon, and for good reason — these juices are a welcome addition of vitamins, minerals, and other nourishment to our diets.  They work well at helping people to feel more energized and healthy. Unfortunately, many green juice recipes call for produce that is not always, if ever, in season in my region.

Are there other ways to get a local, sustainable, and easy punch of chlorophyll, vitamins, and minerals?

Why yes there is.  Hello lady nettle.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

I remember my first encounter with nettle.  It happened as a young child when I was helping my mother to weed the garden.  I innocently pulled this ‘weed’ and soon thereafter had a nasty irritation all over my hand. Ow, nettle! She certainly has evolved an excellent defense mechanism.

Luckily, that early interaction did not deter me from learning about nettle and her many benefits.

Susun Weed reports an impressive list of nourishment found in nettle:

{Note from 1/2016: As discussed in the comments, there is some debate about the actual amounts of vitamins and minerals found in these infusions and whether fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K can be assimilated in this form.  Please see the comments for a link to another analysis of vitamin & mineral content in infusions.  Either way, it is without a doubt that adding infusions to your life will increase the vitamins and minerals you’re consuming and have certainly made a difference for many people’s overall health.}

Nettle is a superior source of protein; 10 percent by weight.

Nettle is a rich storehouse of  readily-absorbable minerals, trace minerals, and micro-nutrients:

calcium (1000 mg per quart of infusion)

magnesium (300 mg per quart of infusion)

potassium (600 mg per quart of infusion)

zinc (1.5 mg per quart of infusion)

selenium (.7 mg per quart of infusion)

iron (15 mg per quart of infusion)

manganese (2.6 mg per quart of infusion)

    plus chromium, cobalt, phosphorus, copper, sulphur, silicon, and tin.

Nettle is super-charged with vitamins:

    Vitamin A (5000 IU per quart of infusion)

    Vitamin B complex, especially thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate

Plus Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K

All of this combines to provide an excellent source of energy and nourishment that is easy to come by and easy to use!

After experimenting with nettle infusion for about a year now, I would not turn back and I drink this infusion about 3-4 times a week.  I find that I crave the nourishment of this drink when I haven’t had it for a few days.  When I drink it, I feel as though I am drinking Earth milk (but I have not tried it on cereal!). I feel nourished and more connected with the natural world.  Plants (commonly considered weeds!) right outside my door can contribute to my health and well being.

The process starts by measuring out an ounce of dried nettles.  I’ve seen other people write about nettle infusions using just a few tablespoons of herb — this will still be a healthy drink, but won’t pack quite the same punch of minerals.  When I was beginning, I measured this ounce out with a scale, but I have since measured nettle out enough times to simply visualize an ounce of the herb in my quart jar.

Ounce of dried nettle

Next, I boil water and distract myself with teeth brushing or other before-bed chores.  When the water is ready, I pour it over the herb, seal the jar, and am off to bed.  The minimum time to leave an infusion is 4 hours, but it is fine to leave it overnight.

(Tip: pour the water over a knife placed across the jar lid to help diffuse the heat and avoid breaking jars!)

Nettle infusion ready to sit for the night

In the morning, I strain the herb and drink the resulting infusion throughout the day.  I drink it cold and straight out of the fridge, but it could also be warmed.  When I first started drinking nettle I added honey a few times to see if I preferred it that way (I didn’t, but I know that others do.  Mint is also a popular addition — just add a tablespoon to the ounce you measured out.).

Straining the infusion

What isn’t used right away can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.  If it isn’t used in that amount of time, it can be used as a hair rinse or to water houseplants.

Don’t forget to compost leftover herbs!

So where do you get this much nettle?  It’s awesome if you can harvest it somewhere local to you, but Mountain Rose Herbs is my favorite source for organic bulk herbs.  You can find their nettle HERE.

FTC DISCLOSURE: As a way to support my blogging and related activities, I may receive monetary or other compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services within this article. However, it is my promise to you that I am sharing my honest opinion and that I only recommend products or services that I have personally used or recommend and are in alignment with Light Footsteps ideals.

29 thoughts on “Introduction to Nourishing Herbal Infusions – Nettle

  1. The stinging nettles in my area will be ready for gathering in mid May though its a pleasant thought to be just a little over a month away from visiting them again. I usually dry a good supply for the year. I’m kind of an old school nettle tea drinker who boils the dried leaves for 5 to 15 minutes, but I’m going to break from tradition and give your recipe a go, I like the idea of slowly steeping overnight and drinking this tea cold, I suspect this will make the tea have even more nutritional properties still intact.
    Again another great post, thanks for sharing.

    • The long steep definitely helps to let more of the nutritional properties out. I think you’ll be able to taste the difference! Let me know what you think if/when you give it a try!

      • I made some last night and enjoyed the results today. I find it is tastier and I prefer this version of nettle tea to the ones I’ve made for decades. I drink Chaga and other mushroom and herb teas throughout the week and this nettle tea will find a spot in the tea rotation. ciao for now and thanks

  2. I have not used the leaves for anything yet, but I have used the roots of the nettle for teething pain in babies. If you strip the root like you would when you strip the plastic coating off of wire, the root has a hollow center. You string it on some stretchy jewelry cord. Be careful not to make it too tight or too loose, you don’t want it to get wrapped around the babies neck. It will last a few days before needing to be changed.

  3. Pingback: Nourishing Pregnancy Tea | These Light Footsteps

  4. Would fat soluble vitamins A, D & K actually be extracted? It is my understanding that they need to be extracted using oil. Or by actually consuming the leaf.

  5. I don’t know if you are still checking this page out or not, but thought I would give it a whirl. I have tried nettle infusions from the dried nettle that I have purchased from the health food store. Would love to find fresh but live in the city and seriously have no clue where to find a source…anyway. When I brew the dried herb..usually overnight..the resultant tea is dark brown. What color is it supposed to be?? Quite a long time ago, I had some dried nettle, infused it and the tea was green. Tasted quite nice…but with it brown I nearly gagged. The child I am brewing this for refuses to drink it, and says it makes her sick. I have resorted to buying freeze dried caps and giving her those….but have noticed that they make her pee like crazy. Wondering if the whole nettle thing is just not for us. BTW the nettle worked quite well on the first…then not. Just went to the bathroom non stop and allergy symptoms were back. Bummer. Does anyone know how much of this stuff you can actually take without it become not good for you. Thank you for any help you can offer.

    • Forgot to much of the freeze dried caps can be taken without causing a problem…caps are 435mg in size. Thanks again.

    • Hi Bev! I’m still checking this. Thanks for your comment.
      It seems like you’ve been having some mixed experiences with nettle! It seems like the nettle you’re using might not be the best if it’s turning a dark brown color. It should be dark green and might have a tint of brown, but I don’t think it should be dark brown. And then the flavor still is very Earthy, but it shouldn’t make anyone gag. For some reason, to me, I describe the taste as Earth milk – I quite like it! Another option to increase the taste is to add a spoonful of peppermint to the mix, or add a spoonful of local honey to the finished product (local honey can also be quite helpful for allergies).
      Nettle is a diuretic so it can increase peeing…maybe that is what happened. I only use the infusion about 2-3 times per week and rotate with other infusions so that I get the benefits of nettle without having too much of the diuretic side-effect.

      What type of allergies are you talking about?

      I like to buy bulk nettle from Mountain Rose Herbs. MAybe that’s a good place to try ordering more herb in the future:

  6. Do you know if this would work with purple deadnettle? I have a ton of that stuff in my yard and I know it’s edible & safe.

  7. The calcium claims in nettle infusion on this site and others are exaggerated quite a bit. The calcium content was measured in the research paper, “Herbal infusions as a source of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper in human nutrition.” by Suliburska and Kaczmarek, which appeared in the Sept. 14, 2011 edition of the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition. They did not measure the calcium content in the infusion made as described, but they measured the calcium content in the dried nettle leaf that is used to make the infusion.

    The dry material has a calcium content of 400 mg per ounce of nettle. Meaning, even if the infusion had 100% absorption of the calcium from the dry material, one cup would have 100 mg of calcium (10% the daily recommended value). One quart would have 400 mg, less than half of what is claimed. Keep in mind that 100% absorption is an extremely optimistic guess, and assumes that the dry matter does not retain any of the calcium.

    Susan Weed uses exaggerated claims to help sell the products she markets on her website.

    • Thanks for suggesting this article. I’ll have to take a look at it. I am always happy to learn of new information, and I’d be happy to share this with others, too. Hopefully we can have more research dedicated to understanding the nutritional benefits of herbs in the future.

      Susun Weed might not have the most up to date research about calcium content in nettle infusions, but she still gets people thinking about their health and I appreciate that. Even 400 mg a day would be beneficial, leading to 40% of the daily value in a an easy-to-assimilate format (although I agree, we’re being optimistic if we assume that it is all assimilated). Best to always keep researching these important health topics!

      • I just researched that if you actually absorb 100% of the calcium you take, then you only need 200-300mg per day. But sincr we dont then its recommended to get over 1000mg per day. But if these nettles are absorb 100% then its almost like saying 1 cup is worth 500mg calcium like some articles state. If people are th8nking of the rda, then technically this could be correct.
        I dont know, i am just brainstorming here…. i want it to be true so bad!
        BTW, when i was pregnant i didnt eat any dairy, so i really didnt get much calcium. At about 6mos i started to get bad leg cramps. So i drank 1 cup of nettle infusion a day and right away they went away. I cannot imagine that worked from only 100mg of rda calcium. Has to be more.

    • Agree! Ive questioned her many times on why the amounts she suggests are so so different depending on when and where she wrote it. She dismisses my questions by talking in circles and just saying they are approximate amounts. Ya!
      Also as suggested in this article And as i questioned above, I am not sure if “fat soluble vitamins A, D & K actually be extracted? It is my understanding that they need to be extracted using oil. Or by actually consuming the leaf.”

      • There is a lot of misinformation and I am always happy to read new information about herbal research. That said, I still don’t think there’s anything wrong with promoting nourishing infusions and I think the high vitamin and mineral content benefits people even if the exact amounts have yet to be determined (and probably vary quite a bit depending on the quality of soil the plant was grown on). I do have a background in science and appreciate very much when we can back up herbal claims with research, but there is much cumulative traditional knowledge that supports the use of infusions even if we don’t have exact calculations at this point.

        I do agree that the way Susun talks around people is extremely frustrating.

        I welcome these concerns and appreciate if anyone shares new information in this forum!

        I’d still be interested to know the answer to your question about fat soluble vitamins, too, and I’m sorry I haven’t found the answer to that yet! Let me know if you find a good resource.

      • And just one last comment: I personally have not made claims on the amounts of specific vitamins and minerals in the infusions; I have quoted Susun’s information and I’ll go back to this piece and clarify that the exact amounts are debated and should be researched further.

  8. Can you tell me if you can mix dried nettle roots with dried nettle leaves when making a nettle tea infusion? If so, how much nettle root do I add? I know that I need to use an ounce (approximately a cup of nettle leaves) in a quart jar for the infusion but how much dried nettle root do I add to the leaves? I have read the be ideas to drinking a nettle leaf tea infusion but can you tell me the benefit to ingesting nettle root?

    • I would not add the roots with the leaves when making an infusion. You can make an infusion of leaves OR an infusion of root, but I think they are best to keep separate. While you might aim to drink a whole quart of nettle leaf infusion in a day, nettle root infusion is better taken as 1/2 to 1 cup per day. While nettle leaf infusion is a great overall system tonic to drink regularly, most people consume nettle root for more specific reasons. Often, nettle root is used to strengthen and/or stimulate the urinary system if there are indications for its use. It is not consumed as a daily tonic infusion as nettle leaf is. Please let me know if you need further clarification.

      • I think I have male pattern baldness as the reason that my hair is falling out. I know that nettle root helps men with that because they don’t have the proper testosterone conversion going on. Women can have the same problem and that may be the case with me, so I was going to try nettle root for my hair loss as other reasons for my hair loss has been ruled out. I want to also take nettle leaf infusion for all the other benifits that daily drinking the infusion can bring. But I didn’t know if you combined both the nettle leaf and the root together in one infusion.
        Can you tell me how often I should drink the nettle root itself and how much for hair loss in women? Should you drink infusion tea on an empty stomach for best results of the benifits?
        I am drinking essiac tea that I make up fresh ( from blue moon company ) and that needs to be taken on an empty stomach.

  9. I’m just researching this again. Weed’s claims are based on Mark Pederson’s book Nutritional Herbology. He lists nettle as having 966mg of Ca per oz of herb by dried weight. I assume Weed rounded that up to 1000mg. But the problem is she extrapolated Ca in dried herb to what is found in infusions and that is unlikely to be correct.

    Paul Bergner’s article below has a good outline of the nutritional content of herbs, also based on Pederson’s work. He points out that where a plant is grown will affect its mineral content, which probably explains the discrepancy between Pederson’s figures and the ones in the research quoted above.

    Because of that I think the useful thing to take from Susun Weed’s work is that Nourishing Herbal Infusions contain dense amounts of nutrients compared to teas, and are a good adjunct to a nutrient dense diet. People who drink NHIs routinely report increased health in a number of ways including obvious things like stronger nails. And as you say, increased vitality. Not everything has to be measured scientifically.

    It’s likely that some herbs are better extracted via decoction (eg oatstraw). Afaik Weed standardised the NHI form because she was a young mother who kept ruining decoctions she couldn’t keep an eye on on the stove. I think she also believes that decoctions damage some of the more fragile nutrients. So NHIs were a good compromise to maximise extraction.

    Bergner’s article

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