Nettles and dandelions, both Spring herb “weeds” are often shunned and treated as weeds and discarded. With a little education, we may all learn to appreciate these herb weeds in our backyard! Lets take a second look and learn how to use them to enhance our food. We buy supplements with boron (in nettle) and dandelion in teas. Learning the medicinal benefits is what interested me in gathering Stinging Nettle leaves and dandelion leaves and blossoms. Early Spring is the best time to harvest, when the plants are young. Stinging nettle likes rich soil and I have found it in my perennial garden as well as under some low growing pines where we had dumped leaves years ago. You may want to wear gloves when harvesting, but it is not necessary if you gather the leaves carefully.
Why do nettles sting? How can they be good for you if they sting? The leaves and stem have stinging hairs, which inject histamine which causes a stinging sensation when touched. Stinging Nettle has many medicinal benefits when eaten. Traditionally it is a spring tonic , cleansing the body of metabolic wastes. It gently stimulates the lymphatic system, releasing toxic waste through the kidneys. It is rich in iron, excellent for circulation, red blood cells, anemia and fatigue. Studies show it to be as effective as an anti-inflammatory drug especially for arthritis, joint and muscle pain. It is similar to dandelion leaf in eliminating uric acid from joints.
Nettle leaves can be steamed like spinach served with butter, or make a mild refreshing tea that can be sweetened with honey. I dry the leaves for later use in meats and egg dishes.
Dandelion has some of the same benefits as nettle and more. The young leaves, flowers and buds are great in salads. Dandelion helps the liver and gall bladder break down fat for detoxification, and the kidneys as a diuretic. They have a taste similar to chicory, and an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Dandelion leaves provide; potassium, magnesium, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, proteins, iron, sulphur, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. Dandelion with redily available magnesium, increases bone density. Could that help to prevent bone disorders and osteoporosis?
Make a salad with dandelion leaves chopped with sheep feta cheese, olive oil, and onion is a nice combo.
I add it to other salad greens for a delicious, nutritious side dish for lunch or dinner.
Please share your comments and suggestions about using Stinging Nettle and Dandelion.