The stinging nettle is part of a genus of about 45 plants and it is widespread worldwide. Nettles grow almost anywhere, apart from tropical and arctic regions. They enjoy cultivated, nitrogen-rich soil and thrive in slightly moist conditions in full sun or partial shade.
The stinging nettle is known for the stinging hairs on its leaves and stem. Its Latin name Urtica was given by the Romans, from the verb urere, meaning to burn.
Whole plants for medical use are cut and dried for infusions, liquid extracts, ointments, powders, and tinctures.
The plant is rich in iron and vitamins A and C. It is also used as a commercial source of chlorophyll to colour cosmetics, foods and medicines.
Young leaves can be picked off for culinary uses - these should be blanched or cooked and can be used like spinach. Nettle is used to wrap some cheeses; it is made into soups, baked into bread dough and used in herbal beer. The leaves are dried and used for teas and tonics.
Nettle has been a popular remedy for anaemia due to its iron content. It has also been traditionally used to alleviate various skin and scalp conditions; herbalists believe it stimulates new hair growth and helps to prevent hair loss.
Nettle is an astringent herb, meaning it constricts body tissues and checks the flow of blood and other secretions when used internally.
We have used nettle in various forms in our cleansers and shampoos.
We used chopped dried nettle leaves in our Squeaky Green shampoo bar to stimulate the scalp and to help promote healthy hair growth.