If you’ve ever accidentally brushed up against a stinging nettle plant (Cnidoscolus stimulosus), you know it’s not fun. There’s a reason one of the names for it is Tread Softly!
The stems and leaves are covered with tiny, hollow hairs which break off and release an irritating acid onto the skin. It’s formic acid, the same acid ants have in their saliva. Despite this, the nettles have been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. The formic acid steeped out of nettles in water was also used as a natural pesticide. People have also cooked it as greens. I can’t imagine taking something that causes obvious irritation and ingesting it on purpose. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess.
There are those who eat the stuff raw, too. Given the acid and the reaction we humans have to it, why would anyone eat it raw? Why, for a case of beer of course!
Although cooked nettles lose their sting, eating raw nettles can turn the tongue black and make the lips swell, but that did not stop the participants from munching on their greens in order to become champion and win a crate of beer.
What the heck? You can see the rest of the article as well as a video, here.
If you’re unfortunate enough to have had a run-in with this plant, there are some natural remedies available. One of these is to crush the leaves of jewel weed (also called touch-me-nots) and rub the sap on the affected areas. This also works to relieve poison ivy.