Nettle is the name for many different species of the plant Urtica. They are flowering, mostly herbaceous perennial plants, usually treated as a weed.
The type of nettle used in kinky sex is the Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica): a perennial, herbaceous variant of the nettle, probably the most commonly-known. It is native to Europe, northern America, Asia, Australia and northern Africa, in up to 100 varieties, all (as far as we are concerned here) sharing the same properties.
Their importance, for play purposes, are the stinging hairs, which sometimes are found only on the leaf, sometimes only on the stem, most usually on both. These long, bristle-like hairs are distinct from the shorter, softer, non-stinging hairs found on the leaves and stems of many plants. If nettles are being collected for their stinging properties, it is a good idea to check that they have a sufficiency of stinging hairs, as well as noting where those hairs are. Nettles with well-developed purple pigment in the stems tend to have more stinging hairs than those plants which remain green.
The effects of the nettle vary in intensity from variety to variety, also depending on the age of the plant, the soil they are growing in, the time of year and the gender of the plant. Also, the effect of nettles differs from one person to another and with the same person on different occasions, particularly during menstruation (see Safety). For these reasons, it is always worthwhile checking someone's reaction to the specific nettle you intend using, even if they believe they are not allergic.
Originally, urtication was the process of deliberately stinging a person with nettles as a medical treatment, particularly with rheumatism, arthritis, paralysis and some skin disorders, rather like rubbing on some "deep heat". The mild pain associated with the nettles may even have had some benefit of its own in this context. It doesn't take much to realise that this pain can be used for erotic effect and even a hundred years ago, Webster's dictionary was including whipping with nettles in the definition of urtication.
Western medicine hardly uses nettles any more and "urtication" now more usually refers to the practice of using stinging nettles to stimulate the skin as part of sex. Nettles are favoured for this because of their natural qualities, a particular advantage being that the effect does not spread to other areas.
The stinging nettle's longer hair-like structures are hollow needles and contain a chemical that is held in by a sharply-pointed cap and the end. When pressed against a surface (such as skin), a needle can penetrate and the slightest subsequent movement will cause the tiny cap to break off, allowing the itchy fluid to be released. Within a few minutes or less, the person will feel a sharp stinging followed by a warm, tingling feeling on that part of the skin, which becomes sensitised. Unless there is an allergic reaction, only that part of the skin directly touched by the nettle will be affected. Depending on the person and the nettle, the tingle can become a warm feeling that may turn into a mild itch; this sensation can last for a number of hours or even days. The affected are is also likely to redden and produce small bumps before long — this is NOT indicative of an allergic reaction. The needles are sharp enough and long enough to penetrate woollen, cotton or latex gloves and condoms.
Because of the way the sting is introduced to the skin, fresh nettles are best used gently, loosely brushing or dabbing the area with needles. Take time, giving the stinging effect time to act with only a small portion of the needles breaking off each time. If you want to beat or thrash the sub with a bunch of nettles, it is safest to first vigorously rub the nettles on an old cloth to remove much of the sting. The effect is intensified if the nettles are applied over whip marks but it is not advisable to whip a nettle-stung area as this can force the chemicals into the dermis, lessening the sensitivity and increasing the ongoing blotchiness of the skin. In small doses, the nettles are likely to be safe on ANY part of the body below the neck.
For the top, leather or heavy rubber gloves are recommended, although it you are lucky enough to have some nettles with stinging hairs only on the leaves, you might be able to grasp the stems and avoid any stings.
Other fun with nettles
Once checked for allergy and sensitivity, nettles are a fairly safe item and can be used just about anywhere.
- As an alternative to ginger for figging.
- Putting into the victim's underwear.
- Nettles applied to the penis just before putting on a condom can compensate for the loss of sensation caused by the latex.
- There have been suggestions that a sub could be made to consume nettles but the safety of this is very uncertain and there are resources that make it clear that raw nettles are poisonous.
- Nettle inhibits the binding of Testosterone to Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), resulting in lower levels of “bound” Testosterone and higher levels of “free” Testosterone (this effect occurs as a result of Nettle binding to SHBG in place of Testosterone). Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) production increases in tanderm with the Aging Process - SHBG binds to Testosterone, inhibiting Testosterone's normal biological functions, resulting in the reduced Sexual Desire associated with the Male Menopause: Testosterone binds more strongly to SHBG with the progression of the Aging Process. Assists with Enlarged Prostrate and helps to prevent Prostrate Cancer and is an effective treatment for existing Prostrate Cancer. Useful for Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Nettle tea has several advantages, with many of the olden-day claims now having been clinically proved somewhat accurate. Many herbalists recommend at least two cups of nettle tea per week to help against rheumatism, improve skin glow, prolong erotic desire. Apart from the medical advantages, nettle tea increases blood flow to the sexual organs, giving heightened pleasure and awareness.
Nettle tea bags are available from many health-food shops, including Holland & Barrett and, online, teas-direct.co.uk. Making your own nettle tea is as simple as getting some nettle leaves, and boiling them in some water for few minutes; after that, pour off the juice and add sugar to taste. You can use just about any type of nettle (stinging nettle should be boiled for at least five minutes) and the leaves may be fresh or dried.
Instead of tea, some varieties of nettle may be eaten as vegetables. Non-stinging nettles may be eaten as a salad vegetable but stinging nettles must be boiled or steamed for five minutes to remove the stingers.
Health and safety
The Tree Nettle (aka Ongaonga), found principally in New Zealand and parts of Australia, can be deadly, causing paralysis leading to death. There is another variety of nettle found principally in Australia, which can be fatal to small animals and should be treated with care on humans. There are similar reports from Java and Timor. In short, if you live in this part of the world, be extremely cautious.
Because nettle can alter the menstrual cycle and may contribute to miscarriage, pregnant women should not use nettle, and lactating women should avoid excessive use of this herb.
Most species of nettles are extremely safe but cases of nettle allergy (called Urticaria) do occur. The Tropical Plant Database contains a list of active chemical that you can use to check against known allergies. In addition, formic acid is also a component with some varieties. The generic encyclopaedia Wikipedia has some further information.
It is wise to avoid the face and neck of those involved. Eyes should always be avoided - the use of a blindfold would prevent accidents.