Considering the demands of consumers in food and the effects of food on human health, the role of Stinging Nettle 9 Sisnu is considerable. The trend in the consumption of ready-to-eat food products is increasing due to the hectic schedule of consumers. So, people need quick, nutritious, and fresh food. In the context of Nepal, a nutritious leafy plant called Sisnu will be a better option which has medicinal importance too. In Nepal, about 1 in 4 people live below the poverty line since rice is only considered as food by Nepalese but rice can’t be cultivated in every situation. So one of the solutions to this problem of food scarcity may be the security of underutilized crops of respective places and awareness about their importance.
Introduction to Stinging Nettle
Scientific name=Urtica dioica
English tongue=stinging nettle
Stinging Nettle Details
Stinging Nettle is an important traditional food item and herbaceous, perennial flowering plant distributed in the temperate and sub-tropical zone. It is much more reliable for its ability to detoxify the body, boost immunity, improve metabolic efficiency and energy level, minimize menopausal symptoms, and aid in skin care. This plant can be popular in areas where there is a scarcity of vegetables. The young tender leaves and shoots are picked and used by cooking as other vegetables. Sisnu ko saag is one of the most popular forms of sisnu. Due to its healing properties, it has great value in Nepalese society. Sisnu or stinging nettle is native to Europe, Asia, Northern Africa, and Western North America.
There are 6 sub-species of sisnu where 5 of the many hollow stinging hairs, called trichomes on leaves and stems, which act like hypodermic needles and this needle like structure contain chemicals like histamine that produce a stinging sensation when contacted by human and other animals. The Nepali name of edible stinging nettle are sisnu, lekali sishnu(lekali=high hills),thulo sisnu, Ghariyo sisnu, and patle sisnu.
Stinging Nettle Facts
world population=7.6 billion
Hunger rate=815million (10.7%)
Nepal population=about 29 million
Sisnu in Nepal =6.3%
Cereal production=2.62 billion MT
The above data shows that only production of cereals is not enough to eradicate the hunger. If we look on nutrients content of sisnu we have following ingredient.
Although sisnu can’t replace the cereals completely, it can help in reducing hunger to some extent and provide medicinal support in today’s competitive world. It was reported that Nettle leaf has been used in form of medicinal tea or decoction as a diuretic and anti-diabetics therapies in Libya. Let’s have look at some health benefits of sisnu.
Stinging Nettle Benefits
Contains so many nutrients: Stinging nettle’s leaves and root provide a wide variety of nutrients, including
Vitamins: Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as several B vitamins
Minerals: Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium
Fats: Linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and oleic acid
Amino acids: All of the necessary elements of amino acid
Polyphenols: Kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic acid, coumarins and other flavonoids
Pigments: Beta-carotene, lutein, luteoxanthin, and other carotenoids
- Aids in pregnancy:
Nettle tea is often suggested for women who are undergoing excessively painful labor and helps to protect against excessively bleeding as it can act as a coagulant. It makes lactation very easier.
- Promotes feminine health:
With painful premenstrual symptoms, it can soothe cramps and bloats and minimize blood flow during menstruation due to its astringent capabilities.
- Improve circulation:
The combination of high vitamin C and iron content in Nettle makes it ideal for increasing the RBC count in the body, increasing blood circulation, wound healing speeds up and the body’s extremities receive oxygenation to boost energy levels.
- Prevents kidney stones:
It has nephritic qualities meaning that it can help to break down stones in the kidney and gallbladder, preventing those painful conditions from worsening.
- Anti-inflammatory activity:
Nettle is stimulant and rubefacient substance making it very effective against various inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or chronic muscles.
- Osteoporosis and bone health:
Boron is a mineral found in nettle which has been scientifically linked to maintaining calcium content in our bodies and helps to slow the onset of osteoporosis.
- Treat Respiratory Issues:
In Australia, it is found that regular consumption of its tea has been associated with curing asthma and respiratory problems.
In addition to these, Germany has approved a mixture of saw palmitic and nettle root for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, which can develop into prostate cancer if left unattended. Similarly to the clinical experiment Nettle in form of freeze-dried capsules is often recommended for asthma.
NOTE: CONSULT WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE ADDING TO YOUR DIET IF YOU ARE ONGOING ANY KIND OF TREATMENT.
Stinging Nettle Plant marketing
In Nepal sisnu is used in IPM(integrated pest management) to ward off pests such as cabbage butterfly larvae, hairy caterpillars. It was reported that from small scale industries of a small hamlet in Nepal, around 13 quintals of nettle powder was produced in a single year.
To supply the initiative, the Hariyo Ban program provides a Nrs.216,000(approximately $2,400) enterprise grant. An additional Rs.40,000 (approximately $444) came from Ragar community forest user group. Similarly, the abundance of high-quality nettles in forested areas around Barpak VDC makes nettle cultivation and processing a sustainable option for local community. In addition to the nettle enterprise Gorkha, Hariyo Ban(with WWF Nepal) is processing grants for an aloe vera cultivation and leaf plate(duna tapari in Nepal) making enterprise in Tanahun.
Stinging Nettle Processing – Roots, Tea
Sisnu of 30-35 days tender shoots four leaves along with bud collected from sunsari, Nepal . It was blanched for 90 degrees Celsius for 2.5 minutes and dried at 70 degrees to 7.95% moisture content. Dried nettle was then grinded to the particle size of 150micrometer to obtain Sisnu powder.
Other products: sisnu fresh blanching (90 degree Celsius for 2.5 minutes), Drying (70 degree for 1.5 hour), and Grinding (to 150 micro meter).
Optimization of ingredients: sisnu powder, corn cornflour, salt, citric acid, garlic powder, chili powder
Optimized product: packed and sealed in metallic laminate
Storage: 60 days, 18-20 degrees Celsius 83-85% RH
Stinging Nettle cultivation
Three cultivation techniques can be used for the stinging nettle: 1) direct sowing, 2) growing seedlings in nurseries with subsequent transplantation, and 3) vegetative propagation
- Direct sowing: The seedbed Sowing time can be either in autumn or in spring. Seed density should be 6 kg/ha with a row spacing of 30cm(12 in) and 42–50 cm in autumn and spring, respectively. The disadvantage of direct sowing is that it usually leads to incomplete plant coverage. This drawback can be mitigated by covering the seedbed with a transparent perforated foil in order to improve seed germination. Further, weed control can be problematic as the stinging nettle has a slow seedling development time.
- Growing seedlings: For this technique, pre-germinated seeds are sown between mid-end-February and the beginning of April and grown in nurseries. Seedlings are grown in tuffs with 3-5 plants/tuff and a seed density of 1.2-1.6 kg / 1000 tuffs. A fastened germination is achieved by alternating high temperatures during daytime (30 °C for 8 h) and lower temperature during nighttime (20 °C for 16 h). Before transplanting, the seedlings should be fertilized and acclimated to cold temperatures. Transplantation should start around Mid-April with a row spacing of 42–50 cm (17–20 in) and plant spacing within rows of 25–30 cm.
- Vegetative propagation: Stolons (with several buds) of 10 cm should be planted from mid-April in a depth of 5–7 cm (2.0–2.8 in). Head cuttings are grown in nurseries starting between mid-May and mid-June. Growing tips with two leaf-pairs are cut from the mother plant and treated with root-growth inducing hormones. Transplantation can be delayed in comparison to the growing seedling technique.
From the analysis of the above facts, we came to know sisnu has many health benefits than other crops like cereals. Despite many health benefits, sisnu is not being domesticated but only found in the wild form in forest areas. Day to day hunger and mouth to be fed are increasing, whose requirements can’t be fulfilled unless the underutilized crops are also prioritized along with the major crops. Not only the flora parts but also the roots of sisnu can be consumed in many forms which concluded the whole plant of sisnu is of high value. Preservation of sisnu can play a major role in the food security of Nepalese community because it is not only traditional food items but also important medical plants among various ethnic groups. So we as responsible Nepalese citizens must go through preserving of such under-utilized food items.
- Research gate
- Journal of pharmacognosy and phytochemistry
4th sem agriculture engineering student