When we look at the range of things that nettles are being used for today, it is difficult to imagine how we would manage to live in a world without them. Many good restaurants and well known chefs use nettles as an ingredient in their dishes. Nettle teas and cordial can be bought from the supermarket and in some parts of the country it is possible to buy nettle wine or beer.
Nettles are added to speciality foods, such as cheese and spaghetti, as a flavouring and colour. One cheesemaking company (Cornish Yarg) wraps the cheese in nettles leaves, which appears to encourage the cheese to ripen. Animals also benefit from a dried nettle supplement that can be added to their food. It is said that their coats will become glossier. What is certain is that they benefit from the added vitamins and minerals.
The nettle has a long history as a medicinal herb. Some of the claims made in the past are now being scientifically tested and nettles are being prescribed to treat disorders such as diseases of the prostate, allergies and arthritic conditions. They are a valuable ingredient of herbal tonics, tinctures and homeopathic preparations.
Health and wholefood shops sell nettle hair shampoos and conditioners. The historic claims as to what nettles can do for your hair, or lack of it, are very extreme, but for sure you might also acquire a glossy coat...
Last, but not least, the is the potential use of nettle fibre. Research projects in Europe are trying to find ways of cultivating nettles and processing them in an economical way so that the nettle fibre might be produced commercially, either for textiles or composite materials.
Our grateful thanks to Gillian Edom for this page and numerous contributions throughout the site.