|Stinging Nettle Quick Facts|
|Scientific Name:||Urtica dioica|
|Origin||Europe, Asia, northern Africa|
|Shapes||Small, flattened, lenticular achenes|
|Major nutrients||Vitamin K (369.83%)
Total dietary Fiber (16.05%)
|Health benefits||Improves Heart Health and Promotes Feminine Health|
Stinging nettle is a dioecious perennial, herbaceous plant that grows about 1 to 2 m (3 to 7 ft.) tall. The plant grows in moist sites along streams, coulees, and ditches, on mountain slopes, in woodland clearings, and in disturbed areas. It thrives in damp, nutrient-rich soils, but can colonize a wide range of other habitats. It has widely spreading rhizomes and stolons, which are bright yellow, as are the roots. Stem is simple or branched, erect or sprawling.
Leaves are green colored and are 3 to 15 cm (1 to 6 in) long and are borne oppositely on an erect wiry green stem. The leaves have a strongly serrated margin, a cordate base and an acuminate tip with a terminal leaf tooth longer than adjacent laterals. The leaves and stems are very hairy with non-stinging hairs and in most subspecies also bear many stinging hairs whose tips come off when touched. Leaves are dark green on the top and are a paler green and downy on the underside.
Flower & Fruit
Flower is green to white in color, with drooping clusters of four petals per flower, and occur in the leaf axils as well as at the stem tips. Male and female flowers usually grow on separate plants of the stinging nettle, hence the species name dioica, meaning “separate,” or “two houses.” Flowering normally takes place from May to October. The fruit is small, flattened, lenticular achenes. The plant is used as a medicine, as a food source and as a source of fiber.
Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle
If you happen to touch a stinging nettle plant while out for a walk, you will experience a sudden, intense pain that feels like needles are pricking into your skin. While this might make you think you want nothing to do with it, stinging nettle is very beneficial for your health. Health benefits of stinging nettle include:
1. Improves Prostate Health
Prostate enlargement and cancer are both serious factors to consider as men age, but stinging nettle has proven to be an effective means of preventing prostate growth. However, due to the chemical pathways that this treatment takes, stinging nettle can only prevent the growth, not reverse it once the growth factor and testosterone-stimulation has occurred.(1)
2. Detoxifies the Body
Stringing nettle consists of wide range of beneficial nutrients, which make it an ideal detoxifier for the body and it has been known to gently cleanse the body of toxins. Stinging nettle can also ensure that those toxins being neutralized in the body are then removed quickly. Stinging nettle is known as an alternative, meaning that it can improve the nutrient uptake efficiency of the gut and ensure that the digestive processes run smoothly, thus preventing the accumulation of dangerous toxins. It also encourages the lymphatic system, helping to rid the body of excess toxins in the kidneys as well.(2)
3. Osteoporosis and Bone Health
Boron, an important mineral element, can be found in stinging nettle. Boron has been scientifically connected to maintaining calcium content in our bones, which means that stinging nettle, can help slow the start of osteoporosis. When you combine that effect with the hormone-regulating impact that stinging nettle has, which helps to regulate and monitor bone health as well, it seems like this herb truly can do it all.(3)
4. Improves Heart Health
Stinging nettle has the ability to positively affect the heart. Research has revealed that frequent consumption of stinging nettle tea can help lower systolic blood pressure and relieve tension and stress on the cardiovascular system.(4)
5. Promotes Feminine Health
Stinging nettle has a number of active components that affect feminine health. For painful premenstrual symptoms, stinging nettle can calm cramping and bloating, while also minimizing blood flow during menstruation due to its astringent capabilities. For women suffering menopause, stinging nettle is also useful as it can smooth the transition and act as a restorative so the hormonal shift isn’t as dramatic in the body.(5)
6. Treats Respiratory Issues
Stinging nettle is used in a number of treatments of a variety of respiratory conditions, including hay fever, asthma, and other seasonal allergies. Research has shown that certain extract combinations from stinging nettle can considerably reduce allergic reactions in patients. Regular consumption of stinging nettle tea has been used to treat asthma in Australia for generations.(6)
7. Kidney and Gallbladder Health
Stinging nettle has nephridic qualities, meaning that it can help to break down stones in the kidney and gallbladder, preventing those painful conditions from worsening or requiring those stones to be either passed or surgically removed. Also, as a diuretic, stinging nettle helps to eliminate toxins quickly, thus protecting against bladder infections and excess fluid retention (edema).(7)
8. Aids in Pregnancy
Stinging nettle tea is often recommended for women who are undergoing excessively painful labor, and it can also help protect against excessive bleeding, as it can act as a coagulant. Furthermore, stinging nettle will help to encourage the production of milk and make lactation easier for the newborn.(8)
9. Gastrointestinal Health
Stinging nettle extract supplements have been recommended for reducing nausea and diarrhea, and as with the menstruation and menopausal effects, stinging nettle can also calm ulcers and hemorrhoids.(9)
10. Skin Care
When the extracts are applied to the skin, stinging nettle has been proven to reduce the severity of acne and can even prevent bacterial infections of various types. Due to its antioxidant properties, it can also speed healing, reduce the appearance of scars and blemishes, and promote anti-aging to reduce wrinkles and age spots.(10)
11. Improves Circulation
Stinging nettle consists of higher amount of vitamin C and iron content which makes it ideal for stimulating red blood cell production. Vitamin C enhances iron uptake in the gut, while iron is a crucial component of hemoglobin. By increasing the RBC count in the body, circulation increases, wound healing speeds up, and the body’s extremities receive essential oxygenation to boost energy levels. For the same reason, stinging nettle is often recommended to relieve fatigue or anemia, which is characterized by general muscle weakness, exhaustion, cognitive difficulties, and headaches.(11)
12. Anti-inflammatory Activity
Stinging nettle is a stimulant and rubefacient substance, making it very effective against various inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or chronic muscle pain. Research has shown that stinging nettle tea or herbal supplementation can effectively treat gout, soothe muscle pain, and reduce symptoms of arthritis.(12)
Traditional uses and benefits of Stinging Nettle
- It is used in the treatments of arthritis and gout.
- Nettle leaf is an herb that has a long tradition of use as an adjuvant remedy in the treatment of arthritis in Germany.
- The herb has been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally for treatment of disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, locomotor system, skin, cardio-vascular system, hemorrhage, flu, rheumatism and gout.
- Nettle is used in shampoo to control dandruff and is said to make hair glossier.
- Nettle root extracts have been widely researched in human clinical trials as a treatment for symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
- Nettle is supposed to be a galactagogue, a substance that promotes lactation.
- Extracts of Urtica dioica leaves may help with glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients needing to use insulin.
- Tea made from the leaves has traditionally been used as a cleansing tonic and blood purifier so the plant is often used in the treatment of hay fever, arthritis, anaemia etc.
- Whole plant is anti-asthmatic, anti-dandruff, astringent, depurative, diuretic, galactogogue, haemostatic, hypoglycaemic and a stimulating tonic.
- An infusion of the plant is very valuable in stemming internal bleeding.
- It is also used to treat anaemia, excessive menstruation, hemorrhoids, arthritis, rheumatism and skin complaints, especially eczema.
- Plant is used to treat skin complaints, arthritic pain, gout, sciatica, neuralgia, hemorrhoids, hair problems etc.
- Fresh leaves of nettles have been rubbed or beaten onto the skin in the treatment of rheumatism etc.
- Juice of the nettle can be used as an antidote to stings from the leaves.
- An infusion of the fresh leaves is healing and soothing as a lotion for burns.
- Root has been shown to have a beneficial effect upon enlarged prostate glands.
- Homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves.
- It is used in the treatment of rheumatic gout, nettle rash and chickenpox, externally is applied to bruises.
- It has been used medicinally as a haemostatic, anti-rheumatic and as a remedy for urinary infections and stones.
- It is useful in treating osteoarthritis.
- It is helpful in treating dysentery.
- It relieves lung congestion.
- It is wonderful in treating hyperthyroidism.
- It is good herbal remedy for skin problems like acne, eczema, cuts, and scarps.
- It alleviates respiratory ailments like cough, bronchitis, chest congestion, Asthma, TB.
- It helps in avoiding and dissolving kidney stones.
- It is effective in the treatment of Cancer.
- It is beneficial for getting rid of invasion of internal worms and parasites.
- It is a good herbal remedy for women as it eases labor pains.
- It elevates the production of milk and nourishes the foetus.
- It alleviates muscle pain and joint stiffness.
- It relieves the condition of gout, rheumatism, Arthritis, inflammation of the tendons.
- Stinging Nettle tea is beneficial in countering diarrhea.
- It eases out the swollen piles.
- It relieves allergic symptoms like hay fever, hives.
Ayurvedic Health benefits of Stinging Nettle
- Allergies: Have leaf extract of stinging Nettle thrice a day.
- Arthritis: Make tea of stinging nettle leaves. Take it two times a day. OR Add fresh or dried leaves of stinging nettle into a tub of warm water. Soak your painful joints into the water. It provides gentle relief from aching of joints.
- UTI: Take leaves decoction of stinging nettle two times a day.
- Asthma: Make an infusion of stinging nettle. Take two times a day.
- Nephritis: Prepare tincture stinging seeds. Take 2 tsp twice a day.
- Osteoarthritis: Take leaves and stem of stinging nettles. Powder them. Have one tsp with milk or lukewarm water once a day.
- Fibromyalgia: Make an infusion of leaves of stinging nettle. Take two times a day.
- Stress: Prepare stinging nettle’s leaf tea. Drink once a day.
- Urticaria: Prepare a cup of tea by adding half tbsp of stinging nettle.
- Baldness: Apply expressed stinging nettle juice from roots to tips of the hair.
- Grey Hair: Regularly massage your hair with stinging nettle juice.
- Bleeding External: Boil some leaves and apply externally to immediately stop the external bleeding.
- Eczema: Boil stinging nettle leaves and apply externally to Eczema.
- Prostate Enlargement: Prepare a cup of tea made from stinging nettle leaves.
- Joint Pain: Add 1 cup of stinging nettle to 2 cups of water. Boil and then keep it on low flame for 15 minutes. Strain it off and consume it warm. This decoction helps in providing relief from inflammation and swelling. Consume 2 cups of nettle tea regularly to get best results.
- Blood Purifier: Make a root decoction of stinging nettle. Consume 20 ml of it twice a day.
- Kidney Stone: Soak 2 tbsp of dried stinging nettle in two cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain and drink.
- Acne: Consume tea prepared by leaves of stinging nettle once a day.
- Detoxicant: Boil a cup of water. Add a tsp of crushed stinging nettle in it. Cover for 10 minutes. Strain and drink it.
- Hyperthyroidism: Add 2 to 3 tsp of dried stinging nettle leaves in a cup of hot water. Let it steep for 10-12 minutes. Strain it well. Add honey to taste. Drink this tea twice a day for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Osteomalacia: Put Nettle leaves in a jar. Pour hot water over the leaves and fill the jar to the top. Then cover the lid tightly. Steep the mixture for approx. 4-8 hours. Now strain the liquid and drink the nettle infusion. It is advisable to drink take two cups of Nettle infusion daily.
- Hypothyroidism: Add stinging nettle herb in hot water and steep it for 10-12 minutes. Strain the decoction and add honey to taste. Drink this tea twice a day.
- Joint Pain: Add a tsp dried leaves of stinging nettle into a tub half filled with warm water. Put your inflamed joints in this water to give relief to the joints. OR Dip a cotton cloth in stinging nettle tea. Apply this cotton cloth on inflamed joints to give relief from pain. Repeat this procedure according to your need.
- Kidney Disease: Boil 7-8 leaves of stinging nettle in a cup of water for 10 minutes. Strain the decoction. Consume this tea thrice a day.
- Joint Pain and Arthritis: Add fresh or dried leaves of stinging nettle into a tub of warm water. Soak your painful joints into water. It provides gentle relief from aching of joints.
- High Creatinine: Take 2 tsp of dried powder of leaves. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain. Drink this tea once a day. It enhances the excretory waste, which helps in reducing creatinine level in the blood.
- Dust Allergy: Add half tsp of dried stinging nettle leaves in one cup of water. Boil it. Simmer for 10 minutes. Drink it twice daily.
- Metrorrhagia: Extract the juice of stinging nettle leaves by grinding and squeezing them. Consume half cup of the juice divided into morning and evening.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Put half tsp of dried stinging nettle leaves in one cup of water. Boil it. Simmer for 10 minutes. Drink it twice daily.
- Rickets: Take 5 to 8 drops of mother tincture, 2 times a day. OR Make an infusion of nettle leaves and take 2 times a day.
- Infertility: Make a decoction of stinging nettle leaves and drink it once in a day.
- Endometriosis: Take 10 drops of Mother Tincture 3 times a day.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding: Take 10 drops of Mother Tincture 2 times a day.
- Eclampsia: Boil few leaves of stinging nettle in 100 ml of water for 10 minutes. Strain it off. Regular consumption effectively reduces the symptoms.
- Aphrodisiac: Tea prepared from stinging nettle leaves heals female’s problems. Prepare a tea of stinging nettle leaves in one cup of water. Strain and drink it.
- Water Retention: Steep a tsp of stinging nettle root powder in 150 ml of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink it twice daily to get best results.
- Anemia: Prepare a tea from stinging nettle, lemon or Raspberry leaf. Drink twice a day. OR Use stinging nettle capsules.
- Aphthous Ulcers: Prepare an infusion of stinging nettle, sage and chicory in 3:1:3. Boil the infusion. Strain. Drink one cup three times a day.
- Eczema: Prepare a paste of Figwort, stinging nettle, burdock. Apply it two times a day.
- Septicemia: Take stinging nettle root, Horsetail leaves, Birch leaves and Dandelion leaves in equal amount. Prepare a decoction. Take one cup once a day.
- Dandruff: Take 5 to 6 tbsp of crushed leaves of stinging nettle. Add 2 cups of water and 2 cups of Vinegar in it. Boil it for 4 to 5 minutes on medium flame. Let it cool. Strain well. Use it to rinse your hair after shampoo.
- Gallstones: Take dandelion root, milk thistle, Birch leaves and stinging nettle leaves in equal quantities. Make a tea by boiling all these herbs together and drink regularly to prevent kidney and gallstones.
- Blood Impurity: Combine equal amount of Alfalfa leaves, Mint, stinging nettle leaves, Dandelion leaves. Put one tbsp of herbs in a cup of water and boil to make a tea. Drink this nourishing blend for blood purification.
- Stress: Take one tbsp of each stinging nettle and Alfalfa leaves. Mix in a cup of hot water and steep for 8-10 minutes. Drink this nutritional blend to reduce stress. (You can also add some honey and lemon juice to taste.)
- Blood Circulation: Take Reishi mushroom, Hawthorn berries, stinging nettle root and half part dried ginger root in equal amount. Put all the ingredients in a non-reactive pan and add 4 cups of cold water. Boil over low heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Steep for 10 minutes. Drink it as a morning tea regularly to improve blood circulation.
- Joint pain: Boil dried leaves of stinging nettle in a cup of water for 5 minutes. Cover for 10 minutes. Sprinkle some cinnamon powder and a half tsp of honey. Stir tit well. Strain off this decoction. Drink it once a day.
- Baldness: Boil stinging nettle leaves in olive oil for 1 hour. Strain it off. Massage your scalp with this mixture to induce hair growth.
In the UK, an annual World Nettle Eating Championship draws thousands of people to Dorset, where competitors attempt to eat as much of the raw plant as possible. Competitors are given 60 cm (20 in) stalks of the plant, from which they strip the leaves and eat them. Whoever strips and eats the most stinging nettle leaves in a fixed time is the winner. The competition dates back to 1986, when two neighboring farmers attempted to settle a dispute about which had the worst infestation of nettles.
Nettle leaves are soaked in a concentrated sugar solution so the flavor is extracted into the sugar solution. Leaves are then removed and a source of citric acid (usually lemon juice) is added to help preserve the cordial and add a tart flavor.
Commercially produced cordials are generally quite concentrated and are usually diluted by one part cordial to ten parts water – thus a 0.5 liters (0.11 imp gal; 0.13 US gal) bottle of cordial would be enough for 5.5 liters (1.2 imp gal; 1.5 US gal) diluted. The high concentration of sugar in nettle cordial gives it a long shelf life. There are also many recipes for alcoholic nettle beer, which is countryside favorite in the British Isles.
Nettle stems contain a bast fiber that has been traditionally used for the same purposes as linen and is produced by a similar retting process. Unlike cotton, nettles grow easily without pesticides. The fibers are coarser however.
Historically, nettles have been used to make clothing for 2,000 years, and German Army uniforms were made from nettle during World War I due to a shortage of cotton. More recently, companies in Austria, Germany and Italy have started to produce commercial nettle textiles. Nettles may be used as a dye-stuff, producing yellow from the roots, or yellowish green from the leaves.
Stinging Nettle Capsules and Tablets
Stinging nettle capsules and tablets can be taken orally. There is questionable proof on whether stinging nettle capsules or tablets for allergy relief are better ingested on an empty stomach or not. If there is concern about upset stomach and other side effects, take stinging nettle with food.
- It can be eaten like spinach or made into nutritious soups.
- Leaves are dried and may then be used to make an herbal tea, as can also be done with the nettle’s flowers.
- Nettles can be used in a variety of recipes, such as polenta, pesto and purée.
- Nettle soup is a common use of the plant, particularly in Northern and Eastern Europe.
- Nettles are occasionally used in cheese making, for example in the production of Cornish Yarg and as a flavoring in varieties of Gouda.
- Nettles are used in Albania as part of the dough filling for the börek.
- Young leaves are cooked as a potherb and added to soups etc.
- Juice of the leaves, or a decoction of the herb, can be used as a rennet substitute in curdling plant milks.
- Nettle beer is brewed from the young shoots.
- Stinging nettle fibers were used by Native Americans in the Northwest to make twine, fishing nets, and rope.
- Strong flax-like fiber is obtained from the stems, used for making string and cloth; it also makes a good quality paper.
- Fibers have been extracted are a good source of biomass and have been used in the manufacture of sugar, starch, protein and ethyl alcohol.
- Oil obtained from the seeds is used as an illuminant.
- Juice of the plant, or a decoction formed by boiling the herb in a strong solution of salt, will curdle milks and thus acts as a rennet substitute.
- Hair wash is made from the infused leaves and this is used as a tonic and antidandruff treatment.
- Beautiful and permanent green dye is obtained from a decoction of the leaves and stems.
- Yellow dye is obtained from the root when boiled with alum.
- Many insects and larvae use common nettle as food and safe place for egg deposition.
Selection and Storage
Usually gather nettles utilizing work gloves, as well as put on a long-sleeved shirt. Additionally clean and cut nettles wearing rubber gloves. Once you’ve cooked them just a little (or even soaked them in warm water for the little bit), the stingers are deactivated, and also the plant will become incredibly edible.
The young leaves are the best part of the plant. As soon as the plant flowers, the leaves become bitter and may annoy the bladder as well as kidneys, therefore pick nettles when they’re young as well as sensitive, and harvest just the top four inches of the plant. It may seem a little frightening, yet fresh nettles could be consumed raw. Yet be mindful and make certain to neutralize the formic acid that may sting you. Make use of your teeth, mixer, mortar as well as pestle, or juicer to grind nettle leaves as well as remove their sting. Make use of fresh new nettles the next time you are making a green juice or even smoothie. Make use of freshly crushed nettle in soup as well as salad recipes too.
If you do get stung, make use of scotch tape to get rid of any kind of stingers as well as neutralize the acidic burn by utilizing a simple paste created from smashed nettle leaves (indeed!), jewelweed, dock leaves OR baking soda. In the pinch, vinegar or even urine might help too. You are able to dry nettles for tea or even tinctures either by hanging bunches of it upside down in the cool, dry place, or even with your dehydrator. In any event, clean the leaves soon after harvesting. If utilizing a dehydrator, wear gloves and take away the leaves through the stem. Permit the leaves to air dry for around half an hour or even pat dry along with paper towel. Put the leaves within your dehydrator, distributing them on the rack in single rows, making certain to not pile the leaves along with each other. Keep sufficient space in between each leaf so there is great air flow. Dehydrate for eight to ten hours or till the leaves are totally dry (to avoid mold). If required, rotate the tray a couple of times all through dehydrating. Store within an air-tight container till ready to use.
How to Treat a Stinging Nettle Sting
If stung by the stinging nettle plant, it’s important not to touch or scratch the area. The chemical irritants can dry on the skin and be removed with soap and water. Touching and scratching can push the chemicals further into the skin, spreading the irritation time for days. Using duct tape or a wax removal product can help remove any additional fibers.
There are many people who choose dock plant for relief from nettle stings, despite studies showing it does not provide any medicinal benefits aside from making the irritated area feel cool. Crushed leaves from other plants like jewelweed, sage, as well as the stinging nettles leaves themselves release juices that can provide relief from the sting. Other traditional anti-itch treatments like aloe Vera, calamine lotion and cold compresses can be used as well.
Once nettle is soaked or cooked in water or dried, the stinging quality is removed.
Precautions When Using Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is a very safe herb when used properly — although, there are a few precautions to take when starting to use stinging nettle.
When harvesting: Always harvest stinging nettle with thick gardening gloves to avoid being stung. It’s also best to harvest young plant parts, preferably in the spring. They become more bitter after they flower and as they age.
When using with other herbs and supplements: As with any herb or supplement, it’s important to be cautious when mixing to avoid adverse side effects. You should always start an herbal supplement plan under the care of your health care provider. Patients may have to change their dosages of other supplements if they choose to take stinging nettle.
When pregnant: There is discussion whether or not pregnant women should use stinging nettle. Because stinging nettle affects the menstrual cycle and can stimulate uterine contractions, it could possibly lead to miscarriage. Therefore, pregnant women should not use stinging nettle.
When you’re a diabetic: There is evidence that shows stinging nettle’s ability to affect blood sugar and delay with controlling diabetes. It can also affect the strength of diabetes drugs and increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Diabetics who want to use stinging nettle should only do so under the supervision of their health care providers. Patients may have to change their dosages of medications if they choose to take stinging nettle.
When you first start: Some people have upset stomach, diarrhea or other mild reactions when they first take stinging nettle. It’s best to ease into usage, starting with a small dosage.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center and WebMD, stinging nettle can interact with the following medications:
- Blood thinners such as Warfarin (Coumadin), Clopidogrel (Plavix) and aspirin because stinging nettle contains large amounts of Vitamin K, which can help the blood’s ability to clot. Taking stinging nettle can decrease the effects of these drugs.
- Drugs for high blood pressure such as ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers because stinging nettle can lower blood pressure and strengthen the effects of these drugs.
- Diuretics and water pills such as Furosemide (Lasix) and hydrochlorothiazide because stinging nettle is also a diuretic and when used together can cause dehydration.
- Lithium because of stinging nettle’s diuretic qualities. It may reduce the body’s ability to remove this drug, resulting in higher than recommended levels of lithium.
- NSAIDs because stinging nettle can enhance the anti-inflammatory effect of some of them. Despite the evidence that combining stinging nettle and NSAIDs leads to more pain relief, it should be taken under supervision.
- Sedative medications (CNS depressants) such as clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien) because when large amounts of aboveground parts of stinging nettle are taken, sleepiness and drowsiness can occur. Taking sedatives along with stinging nettle might cause too much drowsiness.