This mineral-rich nettle oil is a powerful remedy with a wide spectrum of uses from easing stiff joints to scalp and hair treatment. Made of nettle leaves this effective oil might help with skin irritations or baldness.
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In the spring I often walk around the small lake in our neighbourhood with scissors, gloves and a small basket for a few plants of nettle to add to my morning smoothies or soup. It is my ritual just to activate my metabolism and detox my body after a long winter and to prevent spring fatigue. However, now it’s autumn and I still go to my same favourite place equipped with the same tools for nettle leaves but this time I use the nettle on my skin and hair.
With the fall I noticed pronounced hair loss and I got scared I was gonne end up bald soon. So I went to my books to learn that nettle makes miracles when it comes to haircare. Nettle has been used for healthy hair since medieval times. While tea and nettle powder are used internally, nettle oil is to massage the scalp to combats hair loss effectively.
Before we start to make our homemade powerful nettle oil let's explore its benefits on skin and hair. Very simple to make yet filled with all the goodies we need to keep our skin and hair happy and glowing.
nettle benefits for skin and hair
Stinging nettle is very rich in minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, silicon and a lot of calcium and iron. It also contains three times more vitamin C than broccoli. And other vitamins A, E and B as well as valuable enzymes and proteins.
These valuable sources can boost hair growth and enhance hair quality. In addition, nettle extract enhances blood circulation that is essential for hair roots to get a sufficient supply of nutrients.
This study confirms that its antiinflammatory and antioxidant features allow using nettle extract for the treatment of alopecia and a healthy scalp.
Nettle is very effective to relieve dry, tense scalp that usually contributes to alopecia (baldness).
It also contributes to hair re-growth, its leaves contain sulfur and silica that make the hair healthier and shinier.
A powerful herb - nettle possesses healing properties and helps with burns. This study confirms the high healing rate of nettle extract on second degree burn wounds in rats in comparison with silver sulfadiazine and vaseline.
The ability of nettle to inhibit inflammation may aslo help with seasonal allergies such as hay fever. This research shows that by blocking histamine receptors nettle stops immune cells releasing chemicals that trigger allergy symptoms.
Stinging leaves of nettle
While Nettle is very effective and useful for our skin, it isnt useful however in the form of fresh leaves. We need to be careful when handling fresh stinging nettle leaves, as their barbs can inject various chemicals such as histamine, serotonin or formic acid and harm our skin. Its hair-like barbs on their leaves that can cause rashes or itchiness.
But these chemicals diminish when we process the leaves with cooking, drying or infusing in oil.
If we intend to use nettle on the skin the best practice is to start with infusing nettle leaves and stem in oil to make nettle infused oil that can be further used in creams, salves, hair conditioners or soaps.
What is nettle oil?
Nettle oil is made by extracting leaves of nettle in any oil of your choice. I have used extra virgin olive oil but feel free to use any oil that is the most suitable for your type of skin.
How to make nettle oil?
Start with nettles, find a place that you are sure is not treated with chemicals as you don’t want these to end up on your skin. Don’t forget to wear protective gloves and a basket or cardboard box. The best time to forage is in the evening of a sunny day. Try to collect the upper parts of the stems with leaves.
Wash the leaves thoroughly and place them on a sunny window to dry. When making infused oil I prefer to use dry herbs as the moisture from fresh material can spoil the oil. It took me 2-3 days to dry them completely. You can also use a dehydrator to quicken the process. Once dried grind the leaves between your fingers to make them into smaller pieces, cut the stems. Smaller pieces make for a better extraction.
Third step - Select an oil of your choice
When selecting the proper oil for your project look at the absorption rate - it means how quickly it will absorb into your skin. When you plan to make evening cream you can use oils with slow absorption such as avocado or sunflower oil. Morning cream, on the other hand, would call for a fast-absorbing oil such as fractionated coconut oil or grapeseed oil. I used extra virgin olive oil that is rich in antioxidants and very good for normal skin.
Fourth step - Select infusion method
There are two basic infusion methods that you can chose from.
Slow traditional method
The slow way is very simple and efficient but you need 4 weeks to achieve your desired result. Just simply fill the jar with dried leaves and stems
Cover them with the oil of yours choice, close the jar with a lid and place it in a cool and dark place for 4 weeks. Remember to shake from it time to time.
After r weeks, strain the oil from the nettle leaves that you will not need any more and fill the oil into a clean and sterilized bottle. We used this method when making this highly scented lavender oil.
Fast infusion method
I was in a hurry to make my nettle infused oil so I used the fast method with a double boiler. I placed the uncovered jar with herbs and oil into a double boiler as per the image below. It is important to watch out for the temperature as shoudn’t exceed 50 degrees. Let it simmer for 5 hours for the herb to release its medicinal properties. Be careful and make sure that the water doesn’t evaporate.
Straining the mixture with the cheesecloth, store in a sterilised jar in a dark place away from direct sunlight. Don’t forget to label it!
Uses of nettle oil
Massage the nettle oil onto your scalp and hair and leave it there for 2 minutes before rinsing it out.
Nettle oil is also used to treat skin irritation on the scalp including cradle cap in enfants or eczema.
Put some into the shampoo and and then massage it into your hair and scalp.
I also like to use this powerful rose oil when it comes to my haircare.
To multiply the effect rinse hair with nettle extracts afterwards. Boil the water, place dried nettle leaves in a jar, pour over hot water and let it infuse till the mixture is cool. You can also add other herbs such as chamomile or sage. Strain the mixture and use it after shampoo. Just simply start from roots all the way down to the hair tips. You can also add apple cider vinegar or peppermint essential oil to the mixture to add flavor and use its ability to increase blood circulation. After the rinse cover your hair with a towel and leave it to dry. Don’t wash it with water afterwards. You can do it twice a week.
Add a few drops on your soap and massage your body. That will help clear up skin redness and irritation.
Use oil as a base for making nettle salve (recipe is coming soon) for inflammatory diseases relief such as dermatitis, rheuma, arthritis or osteoporosis.
Its healing power can help to heal burned or sunburned skin.
Thanks to its antihistamine benefits the nettle oil is useful for spring and seasonal allergies such as hay fever
Use oil as a base to make nettle cream (recipe is coming soon)
Nettle oil can also be added to the soaps (recipe is coming soon)
Nettle oil is safe however avoid using it if you are allergic or if you are sensitive to nettle or other plants from the same family.
If stored in a cool, dry place without direct sun exposure, nettle oil can last up to one year.