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.
In fact, what many call a pesky weed has actually been an important component of health remedies and even pharmaceuticals for ages.
It has diuretic, laxative, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, and immunomodulatory properties. This herb is also a good source of iron, and it contains vitamin A (retinol), B vitamins, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin K. Other nutrients in it are calcium, silica, carotene, magnesium, chromium, potassium, and zinc.
It is available as dried leaves, freeze-dried leaves, an extract, a root tincture, juice or tea. You can also get it in the form of an ointment or cream that can be applied to the skin. Stinging nettle supplements are available as capsules or tablets.
To make stinging nettle tea:
- Add 1 tablespoon of dried stinging nettle root or leaves to a cup of hot water.
- Cover and let it steep for 5 minutes.
- Strain, add honey for taste and drink it.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of stinging nettle.
1. Helps with Arthritis and Other Joint Pain
Stinging nettle is beneficial for people who have arthritis or any kind of joint pain. Its function is very similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
This herb is rich in anti-inflammatory properties, along with minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium, that all help ease joint pain as well as strengthen bones.
After just one week of applying a stinging nettle leaf daily, people with osteoarthritic pain at the base of the thumb or index finger experienced reduced intensity of pain, according to a 2000 study published in the Journal of the Royal Study of Medicine.
Also, a 1999 study published in the Journal of Rheumatology highlights the antirheumatic effect of the stinging nettle leaf extract IDS 23 in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Apply nettle leaf juice directly over the painful joints once daily.
- Drink stinging nettle tea 1 or 2 times daily.
- You can opt to take supplements, after consulting your doctor.
2. Treats an Enlarged Prostate
Stinging nettle can benefit people suffering from an enlarged prostate. It can also help deal with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms that are caused by an enlarged prostate gland pressing on the urethra.
The essential bioactive phytochemicals in it help shrink the prostate tissue. Being a natural diuretic, it also encourages the elimination of inflammatory wastes through urination.
A 2000 study published in Planta Medica highlights the positive antiproliferative effect of ME-20 of stinging nettle roots on human prostate cancer cells in both an in vivo model and an in vitro system.
A 2007 review published in Phytomedicine indicates that nettle root extract is effective in improving BPH complaints. However, more studies are needed.
- Take a stinging nettle supplement of 300 mg daily. Always consult your doctor before taking a supplement for the correct dosage for your condition.
Note: Before using this herb to treat an enlarged prostate, see your doctor to rule out the possibility of prostate cancer.
3. Cures Hay Fever
Stinging nettle is highly effective for treating hay fever as well as allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies. Being a natural antihistamine, nettle can reduce inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and provide comfort from symptoms like nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing and itching.
A 2009 study published in Phytotherapy Research reports that the bioactive compounds in nettle extract contribute to the inhibition of pro-inflammatory pathways related to allergic rhinitis.
- If you are prone to seasonal allergies, talk to your doctor about taking a nettle supplement regularly for one month before the allergy season to prevent the problem.
- Also, drinking nettle tea twice daily at the first signs of hay fever symptoms will help provide relief.
4. Treats Eczema
Stinging nettle is also beneficial for eczema, a chronic skin disorder that causes dry skin, redness, swelling, flaking, blisters, cracking, crusted sores and constant itching.
Due to the antihistamine and anti-inflammatory qualities of stinging nettle, it works as a natural treatment for eczema and helps reduce the inflammation of the skin tissues and the painful itching sensation.
Also, this herb helps cleanse the blood, thereby removing toxins responsible for this irritating skin problem.
- Extract the juice of a few nettle leaves and apply it directly on the affected skin. Repeat 1 or 2 times a day to alleviate pain and itching.
- Also, you can drink stinging nettle tea 2 or 3 times a day to get relief from symptoms.
5. Treats Urinary Tract Infections
Stinging nettle can also relieve symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) and help clear it up faster.
The active compounds in stinging nettle function as a mild diuretic. This will make you urinate more and help flush harmful bacteria out of your system. Also, it helps relieve inflammation.
In addition, the potassium in it plays a key role in inhibiting growth of the bacteria that cause UTIs.
- Drink 2 or 3 cups of nettle tea a day. This will make you urinate more often, which is essential for dealing with this kind of infection.
6. Aids Detoxification
Toxin accumulation in the body can damage vital organs and systems, and cause chronic illnesses. To remove toxins, stinging nettle is very effective.
This herb acts as a diuretic and is high in nutrients, making it the perfect tool for a detox. It detoxifies the blood and encourages the elimination of inflammatory wastes from the body.
It also stimulates the lymphatic system, helping to rid the body of excess toxins in the kidneys. In fact, this herb supports the kidneys along with your liver in eliminating waste.
Plus, the magnesium and vitamin C in it support the different phases of detoxification.
- To help detox your body, you can drink a cup of nettle tea a few times a day or include the leaves in green smoothies.