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Stinging nettles: It’s a tea and a hair treatment

woman drinking tea
Stinging nettles: It's a tea, it's a hair treatment

Not long after nutritionally dense foods become darlings of the New York City food scene, they’re often adopted by the beauty cognoscenti—witness açai berries, probiotics, and kombucha.

That’s what’s happening with stinging nettles, the indie farmer’s market herb that can also be used to winter-proof your wind-blown hair, says Latham Thomas, a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Tender Shoot Wellness.

Nettles are actually weeds that have been known to prick passersby with their astringent leaves and stems. Once picked, however, this forest herb becomes a better-behaved plant that offers health benefits including high levels of potassium, magnesium, and chlorophyll. They’re also an amazing source of iron, says Thomas, who recommends them as an easy, natural health supplement for women.

stinging nettles
Stinging nettles

How to eat them? “Dry nettles can be sprinkled over salads for texture or made with other foods,” says Thomas, who notes they’re served seasonally at Blue Hill. For use at home, she suggests buying dried nettles by at Flower Power and Integral Yoga brewing some as a tea—and then using the rest of the iron-rich beverage as a strengthening hair treatment. “What’s good for your health is good for your hair shaft,” she quips.

To make the tea: Boil water, steep dry nettles with clarifying herbs like rosemary, sage, or antiseptic lavender for 3 to 5 minutes, and serve immediately. The tea will have an earthy, almost grassy flavor.

Latham Thomas
Latham Thomas, founder of Tender Shoots

To make the stinging-nettles rinse for your hair: Prepare the tea as described above, and then add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, such as peppermint, to preserve it. (The dark, chlorophyll solution will last in the fridge for up to six months.) To apply, pour an ounce or two over your wet hair before you shampoo. Take a minute to massage it into your scalp or comb it through your hair. You can repeat the hair-strengthening rinse once a week for a healthy scalp and soft, shiny hair. —Danielle E. Alvarez

For more information or for a wellness session with Latham Thomas, 917-328-4720,,

Like this story? Read how to make your own juicer facial.