Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stinging Nettle Infusion

This startlingly dark green infusion is made with dried stinging nettle leaves. You can harvest them wild yourself if you know what you're doing, but I order mine online from Mountain Rose Herbs. Nettles are a great source of calcium (a mineral the paleodiet is often criticized for lacking) as well as being rich in other minerals.

According to the herbalist Susun Weed:
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) builds energy, strengthens the adrenals, and is said to restore youthful flexibility to blood vessels. A cup of nettle infusion contains 500 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of bone-building magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E, and K. For flexible bones, a healthy heart, thick hair, beautiful skin, and lots of energy, make friends with sister stinging nettle. It may make you feel so good you'll jump up and exercise.

To make the infusion, you'll need:

1 cup (1 oz by weight) dried stinging nettle leaves
1 quart water

Bring the water to a boil. Pour over the leaves and let infuse for 4-10 hours or overnight. Strain into a quart sized container and store in the refrigerator. The infusion will keep for a few days. If it spoils, use it as a hair rinse or use it to water your plants.


I just started making nettle infusion for myself and my husband, but I'm hoping it will help boost our mineral levels as well as giving us more energy. It tastes very "green" but it's actually quite pleasant once you take a few sips.


Robin said...

Ooh! How interesting. Have you tried it warm, like a tea? I'm going to have to try this if for no other reason than the novelty factor.

Darcey Blue said...

since when is the paleo diet low on nutrients like calcium?? all those greens and veggies?? and seaweed...dont' believe it for a minute! Paleo food is loaded with nutrients like calcium, but drink the nettles too, or cook with them even...enjoy them all ways.

Elizabeth said...

Robin - Nope, I've only tried it chilled. It might be very strong warm, I think I'd probably tone it down a little by adding in a smidge of raw honey. I first tried the stuff at a potluck where someone brought it as an iced tea.

Shamana - It's true leafy greens have lots of calcium, as do sesame seeds (yum tahini) and fish bones and bone broths. But tell anyone you've cut dairy out of your diet and the first thing they wail is "but where will you get your CALCIUM?!" It gets old!

Anonymous said...

Regarding calcium - once you've got your Vitamin A, D3, and K2 levels up to snuff (which regulate calcium metabolism) you don't need the RDA amounts of calcium.

The RDA is set artificially high due to the poor SAD (standard American diet) and the bizarre notion that osteoporosis is due to low dietary calcium. It's not - it's due to a disrupted calcium metabolism.

Anna said...

I agree with anonymous, get the fat soluble vitamins, especially D, and the calcium takes care of itself. I like the analogy of calcium being the bricks, but Vit D being the brick layer.

Interesting you posting on stinging nettles. I've only became aware of them in the past few years after moving from a part of the country with no stinging nettles (that I know of). I thought of them primarily as a off- trail hiking "nuisance".

But just last week I attended a WAPF-oriented nutrition study group and stinging nettles were presented. I came home with a 4" pot to plant in my garden, much to my husband and son's surprise (and annoyance?".

Darcey Blue said...

oh yah...that old idea...milk = calcium. silly fools i say!
when will they see, people thrived for millions of years NOT eating the milk of cows. where on earth did they get calcium from...??
sorry a bit facicious!

Anonymous said...

I make my nettle infusion in a big thermos bottle and after many hours it is still warm. Do you suppose it is ok to drink warm as opposed to room temperature or cold?

Elizabeth said...

Anon - Ok to drink warm as in yummy, or ok as in safe? Either way you're good! I just like it better chilled because it mutes the flavor a little, which is otherwise very strong.

Erica said...

I think a Nettles infusion is a great addition to any diet and certainly won't hurt :) I drink it quite often, but not as often as I used too.

I drank it religiously during pregnancy, it's the one thing I recommend for every pregnant or nursing mother :)

Renee said...

What is the best way to strain after it's steeped? I have a metal fine meshed strainer that I've been using but it leaves me with little bits of the nettle still in. Is it okay if not all the nettle is strained out? If not, what would be a better way to strain everything out?

Paige said...

Renee - I use a nut milk bag (available from raw food websites) or a paint strainer bag (available at any hardware store - just wash it really well) and my nettle infusion is always perfectly strained.

leafy said...

It is fine if not all the nettle is strained out of your infusion. Nettle is a food, and has been used extensively as such by traditional cultures. (Also a good source of fibers, as in the kind you can make cloth out of. Used to be used in sails, shirts, etc.) I personally think that nettles infusion is better as a savory drink, rather than sweet, so I prefer to add salt, and maybe a bit of butter. It's like pot liquor, like juice from steamed chard or spinach. And I much prefer it warm because of this pot liquor effect.

Anonymous said...

I've been drinking nettle tea infusion for about a year now. If I stop for a week or more like say during a vacation, I can see the lines on my face reappear! I'll never stop now!

beforewisdom said...

This sounds great, but how do you know nettles contain that much calcium and that you will absorb any of it.

I've been googling around. I found a lot of sites making high calcium claims for nettles and other herbal infusions.

None of those authors making such claims cite a reputable organization for who measured the amounts of calcium in those herbs.

Additionally, cows milk and many plants are impressively high in calcium but have very low absorption rates for the calcium.

Spinach is a good example. A human body will absorb next to none of the copious calcium in it.

I realize that this information probably doesn't exist, but it would be good news to know who made those measurements and how much of that calcium is absorbed

Anonymous said...

Am drinking my very first nettle infusion as I write this. Was looking for ways to doctor it a bit - what others might recommend - when I found your blog. Excited to look around some more. :)

I'm not a milk drinker for many reasons and am always looking for other ways to be sure I'm getting calcium. Probably should try nettle later in the day as I have a morning calcium restriction though. Will keep this jar and try it several ways throughout the day. Thank you, and your readers, for some great ideas to try.


Paige said...

grayangi - I'm not sure if you eat all of these foods, but what I do to make it palatable is make a smoothie with 2 cups infusion, 2 frozen bananas, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, a big handful of spinach, 10 drops of stevia, and 1 tbsp of chia seeds. Tastes like chocolate milk!

Unknown said...

I like to make a lot of herbal teas from bulk dried herbs bought from my local health foods store. I live up in the mountains and everyone tends to get sick constantly this time of year. A tea that I use to boost immunity and as an overall tonic is to steep echinacea, astragalus root, and nettle. I will occasionally make this with green tea in it. If this tastes too "green" to you (I happen to think its delicious) you can add fresh ginger, anise seed or some mint (which all have good health benefits)

kro said...

Before Wisdom:
Check out Dr James Duke site on phytochemical and ethnobotanical data base and link through there to then do a search for stinging nettle. The information you will get is on cooked stinging nettle greens, one cup is over 400 mg calcium which should be equivalent to a cup of herbal infusion.

BlueLightening said...

Is there any scientific evidence that the calcium in nettles helps osteoporosis development? Thanks!

Csilla Bischoff said...

I drink nettles infusion regularly. It is a very popular drink in Hungary where I am from.

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Anonymous said...

I would like to know how you afford to do an infusion? I bought a pound of nettle tea leaves, which is NOT cheap, and if I used a cup of them in an infusion every 2 days, it would be gone in very little time! Am I doing the math wrong?

Unknown said...

Great site...thank you. I am an Australian spending a month in Bulgaria at a friends house. I look out of the kitchen window onto a half acre of stinging nettle.How abundant and blessed am I ? :}}I am drinking it now and it is delicious! Your information on how many minerals are in it is amazing. I'll be drinking it lots more from now on. Does not grow near my home in Australia so I will have to try to get some whenI get home. Thanks again!

Chel said...

I love my daily infusions! I started doing a nettle infusion at the suggestion of a health food store clerk. I then started researching the other herbs they had available and trying some of them as well. That was 2 years ago.
I now use nettle or oat as my base and add other herbs as I need them. My favorite to add for flavor is peppermint which has wonderful benefits as well as making the stronger infusions a bit more palatable and leaves a refreshing feeling in my mouth. Spearmint is good as well.
My 2 year old granddaughter has started asking to drink from my insulated bottle and enjoys my infusions. I find her desire to eat dirt diminishes when she's been drinking my tea for awhile. She also asks to drink the liquid vitamins I keep in the fridge for her.
I make my infusions by pouring off the tea from the infusion that I made the night before, put it in the refrigerator and then add more hot water and let the herbs infuse again, doing this as many times as I feel I'm still getting something from my herbs. I love drinking it cold and would rather drink a weak infusion than just water. I will either drink the first pour off straight or weaken it a bit with a weaker batch depending on what I've used and it's taste. My personal palate has changed over time and I love them strong or weak.
I feel much more healthy and enjoy the other benefits from herbs. I have a cabinet full of herbs now. It's my first line of defense and my favorite vitamin/mineral source.

citroensm said...

I started eating nettles last year. I might have lost some of the nutrients as I used to saute them with onions and garlic and add it all to my white/sweet potato mash.

They are just about finished now for the year here in the UK but I can't wait for next year as I've just bought a blender. They are going to be a regular base for my "green smoothies."

I have a regular supply in my garden but if I run out I'll be going "nettling!".