Instead, when these hairs are agitated, their fragile ends snaps off, converting each hair into a tiny hypodermic needle. Largely foraged from the wild; sometimes sold by wild food stands at Farmer’s Markets (see “Need More Details?” below for identification help). An additional variety from Central Asia (U. d. afghanica) is sometimes stingless, and sometimes not. Some experienced nettle harvesters pick them with bare hands, but they benefit from years of building resistance. If a creature makes its home there, choose another. When you’re ready for them, just pull them out, rinse if you wish and go for it! All you to do is cut the portion you need, hover your fingers above and below the leaf, then pinch it. Nettle leaves must first be cooked or steamed to destroy the hairs on them, which contain a number of irritating chemicals. Video: 10 Uses of Stinging … Cheers! They're obviously capable of inflicting pain (in some cases, quite considerable pain), and the chemical cocktail responsible for this has been studied in some detail. It just takes a quick glance to notice that the tip has been chewed, is slightly blackened or there is frass (waste material from plant-eating insects) visible. My brother swears that mud does the trick for him. Hydrocortisone or antihistamines can provide some relief, but it's common for some pain to linger from a substantial sting (in my own personal experience, numbness can persist for more than 24 hours). So I shall err on the side of caution and recommend that you harvest prior to flowering until reliable and replicatable evidence to the contrary becomes available. Once they've been cooked or dried they can no longer sting. Young nettles emerging. The plant itself emerges from the ground very early in the spring and grows quickly. We recommend that you consult with a qualified health care practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing or on any medications. We dry them inside the house, a short distance away from a hvac vent. Then I run them under cold tap water to rinse away any dirt or debris and give them a last look before processing. them sans gloves without getting stung. Pick the young leaves from the tips. Harvest with a purpose or plan in mind, not just for the fun of it. Once they’re dry, they are much safer to handle since they lose the ability to sting. Stinging nettle is a cold season perennial plant, meaning it is early to pop up in the spring. The final guideline is of utmost importance:  “Never put anything in your mouth unless you are 100% sure it is safe to ingest.” ***. Stingingnettle is one of the earliest green plants to emerge each spring in many cold climates and is worth the hard work of finding them, picking them without getting a … No problem, you say, because you know the secret (or you pull your sleeves down over your fingers). The base or point of the heart aims away from the central stem. Kale is also fairly similar, but generally much tougher. The stinging effect is completely destroyed by cooking. Whenever I forage stinging nettles I always wear rubber gloves. There isn't much in the way of scientific consensus about the efficacy of this method of treatment. There are several subspecies and varieties, some of which lack the characteristic sting. rheumatoid arthritis) across a variety of cultures. CAUTION: Stinging nettles can sting! When looking at a stinging nettle, you can see little hairs on the stem and leaves. Thanks, – Chris. * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. 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