Of course it's an excellent edible green leafy vegetable.
In winter when there aren't a lot of fresh vegetables available where I live, I like to throw some into any soup or stew type of thing.
I happened on a fun use that became very popular with my colleagues here. I make a popcorn topping by powdering local nettles, my own dill, local dried chives, and salt in the blender. Sticks nicely to buttered popcorn and makes a vibrant dark green. Yum!
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Stinging Nettle is one of those really good biodynamic brews for soil improvement. A tea made in a big bucket over several days, stirring a few times a day, gets a tea (which can be diluted) to be poured into a compost pile or around plants to enhance the soil critters.
I would caution anyone who hasn't tried eating a wild green to try it in small amounts first. I have a book called Wildcrafting Cocktails, and was eager to try the wild fennel pesto....about 2 AM I got heartburn like I've never had before, even though I didn't use much and it was mixed in with parsley. Maybe I should have boiled it first, but I am not eager to try it again.
There are other types of herbs that can be used to make biodynamic brews, but sometimes honeybees go crazy for them and will be drawn to the liquid and drown, or force their way under the lid of the container they are brewing in and not be able to get out. This happened to me with thistle tea, they acted like it was heroin, wouldn't leave the open container where they could stand on the leaves. So those types of brews I make in a shed with a very tightly closed door.
I eat nettles and drink them as an infusion. I always feel more energized and healthy when I eat and drink nettle. So nourishing and nutritious!
An herbalist friend told me about using it for arthritis, joint pain and some other inflammatory conditions of the musculoskeletal system. The method might sound crazy, but it has worked wonders for me. You find a live nettle and sting the affected area with it. I have an issue with my thumb that sometimes makes it totally unusable due to the pain (de quervain's tenosynovitis). I find that when I nettle my hand, it stops hurting for days, sometimes weeks and I am able to regain my range of motion and full use of the hand. Not a bad trade off for the few minutes of discomfort the nettle causes. I get bummed out in winter when I can't avail myself of this treatment.
I can't recall the reason it works right now. I believe it increases circulation to the area, among other things.
"Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, "You owe me." Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky."