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Food

Nettle: A Plant that Stings, a Plant that Heals

November 15, 2019

Plants know how to survive! One of these plants is the worldwide known and infamous nettle (Urtica dioica). You have met it in your garden, in the wild, in the park…with not the best impressions. It grows as a weed almost everywhere and the contact with it is quite unpleasant because of its sting.

Why on earth should a touch with plant hurt so much? And how it does that?! This plant developed this mechanism, because it simply does not to be eaten! It protects itself and its nutritious and yummy leaves by predators. If you carefully look with naked eye (or even better with a magnified glass or microscope) you will see millions of small hair covering all parts of the nettle. These hair contains substances which makes our skin itchy and irritated. When we touch the plant, these hair like nettles inserts in our skin these substances.

If you found yourself in this situation, better rub some mint or lemonbalm that you maybe find grown nearby. Even though it hurts, humans from the past started to figure out its nutritious value and how they can exploit it. When nettle is cooked, is not hurtful for human consumption and plus it gives us a great nutritious value in our plate. In Greece, Epirus, Thessaly but also Pontian population collected nettles for the liver, the bile and the artery system. Hippocrates believes that it is panacea for every illness as a medicinal plant. It provides a great amount of iron, calcium and many other mineral salts, but also antioxidants.

It can reduce blood pressure, constipation and blood sugar. This is why traditional pies with nettles were very common, mainly in Pontians. Pontians called nettle “kinteata”. If we want a tasty and nutritious “gemisi” filling in pie, we boil nettles and then we remove the water. After we saute in olive oil onions, garlic, nettle, parsley and dill. We could also add feta in small pieces. Taste is out of this world!

* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira

Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication

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