NETTLE - Stinging Nettle

This herb (plant) is very useful as a natural antihistamine, especially for those who fight allergies. The great advantage is that it does not produce drowsiness. The freeze-dried form is best (though more expensive), but any type is quite beneficial. Is is also useful for BPH (see below). Locally it can be had at GNC or Nature's Outlet and perhaps other places. See the rest of this page with info on this remarkable natural medicine. --WM

Table of Contents > Herbs > Stinging Nettle  
Stinging Nettle
Botanical Name:  Urtica dioica/Urtica urens
Common Names:  Nettle
 
Overview
Plant Description
What's It Made Of?
Available Forms
How to Take It
Precautions
Possible Interactions
Supporting Research

Overview

During medieval times, diuretics and remedies for joint problems were made from stinging nettle. Native American healers used to strike the arms or legs of paralyzed patients with branches of stinging nettle to activate the muscles. This whipping technique, also called flagellation, can also stimulate the organs and relieve the pain of sore muscles and other parts of the body. Stinging nettle has been used in this way for centuries.

The stinging hairs on nettle are like tiny glands that have inside them chemicals that irritate the skin. The hairs are very painful to the touch, but if they irritate an area of the body that is already in pain, the chemicals can actually decrease the original pain. This is why stinging nettle is called a counterirritant. If you get stung with nettle, you can actually relieve the painful nettle stings by applying nettle juice to your skin.

Stinging nettle has been used for hundreds of years to treat rheumatism, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. Today, many people use it to treat urinary problems during the early stages of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), for urinary tract infections, or for kidney stones.

 
Plant Description

Stinging nettle is the name given to common nettle, garden nettle, and hybrids of these two plants. Originally from the colder northern regions of Europe and Asia, today this herbaceous shrub grows all over the world. Stinging nettle grows well in nitrogen-rich soil, blooms between June and September, and reaches nearly 3 feet high.

The branching stems underground multiply by themselves and have multiple shoots. The leaves are heart-shaped, finely toothed, and tapered at the ends. The entire plant is covered with tiny stinging hairs, mostly on the leaves and stem.

 
What's It Made Of?

Stinging nettle products are usually made from the roots or leaves. In some cases, all the plant parts that grow above the ground are used in herbal preparations. Leaf remedies are useful in treating kidney and urinary tract conditions. The flavonoids and potassium in nettle leaves are most likely responsible for their diuretic action.

Root preparations are used to treat enlarged prostate. They can help reduce some symptoms of BPH, but they do not make the prostate grow smaller.

 
Available Forms

Stinging nettle is available as dried leaf and as root tincture (a tincture is a solution of the herb in alcohol).

 
How to Take It

Pediatric

There are no recommended doses for stinging nettles in children reported to date.

Adult

  • For lower urinary tract inflammation and kidney stones, take 8 to 12 g leaf tea with ample liquid (at least 2 liters per day).
  • For enlarged prostate, use root tincture (1:10) 4 to 6 g per day. Talk with your health care provider before taking nettle root for BPH.
 
Precautions

Stinging nettle is safe when used as directed. But always be careful if you are handling the nettle plant. If your skin touches it, you can get contact urticaria (hives), which will make your skin sting. If you are taking nettle root, you may have some mild side effects, such as mild gastrointestinal irritation, excess fluid, or decreased urine flow.

If you're pregnant, do not take any nettle product. Don't use nettle if you are nursing. Nettle can also alter the menstrual cycle. Always check with your health care provider if you have questions or concerns.

 
Possible Interactions

In a scientific study of patients with acute arthritis, stewed stinging nettle leaves enhanced the anti-inflammatory effect of diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID). Although the combination of stinging nettle and NSAIDs may be beneficial for the treatment of arthritic conditions, you should consult with your health care provider before adding this herb to your existing medication regimen.

 
Supporting Research

Balzarini J, Neyts J, Schols D, Hosoya M, Van Damme E, Peumans W, De Clercq E. The mannose-specific plant lectins from Cymbidium hybrid and Epipactis helleborine and the (N-acetylglucosamine) n-specific plant lectin from Urtica dioica are potent and selective inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus and cytomegalovirus replication in vitro. Antiviral Research. 1992;18:191–207.

Belaiche P, Lievoux O. Clinical Studies on the Palliative Treatment of Prostatic Adenoma with Extract of Urtica Root. Phytotherapy Res. 1991;5:267-269.

Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs. Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 1998:47, 132.

Bradley P, ed. British Herbal Compendium. Dorset, England: British Herbal Medicine Association; 1992;1:166–167.

Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. 2nd ed. Sandy, Ore: Eclectic Medical; 1998:125.

Chrubasik S, Enderlein W, Bauer R, Grabner W. Evidence for antirheumatic effectiveness of Herba Urticae dioica in acute arthritis: A pilot study. Phytomedicine. 1997;4:105–108.

Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. New York, NY: Dover; 1971;2:574-579

Gruenwald J, Brendler T; Christof J. PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company; 1998:1197–1199.

Hutchens A. Indian Herbalogy of North America. Boston, Mass: Shambhala; 1991:204–206.

Krzeski T, Kazon M, Borkowski A, Witeska A, Kuczera J. Combined extracts of Urtica dioica and Pygeum africanum in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: double-blind comparison of two doses. Clin Ther. 1993;15:1011–1020.

Millspaugh C. American Medicinal Plants. New York, NY: Dover; 1974:611–614.

Newall C, Anderson L, Phillipson J. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London, England: Pharmaceutical Press; 1996:201–202.

Obertreis B, Giller K, Teucher T, et al. Antiphlogistic effects of Urtica diocia folia extract in comparison to malic acid. Arzneim-Forsch. 1996;46:52–56.

Obertreis B, Rutkowski T, Teucher T, et al. Ex-vivo in-vitro inhibition of polysaccharide-stimulated tumor necrosis factor-a and interleukin-1b secretion in human whole blood by extractum Urticae dioicae foliorum. Arzneim-Forsch. 1996;46:389–394.

Oliver F, Amon E, Breathnach A, Francis D, Sarathchandra P, Black A, Greaves M. Contact urticaria due to the common stinging nettle (Urtica dioica—histological, ultrastructural and pharmacological studies. Clin Exp Dermatology. 1991;267:1–7.

Schneider H, Honold E, Masuhr T. Treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Results of a treatment study with the phytogenic combination of Sabal extract WS 1473 and Urtica extract WS 1031 in urologic specialty practices. Fortschr Med. 1995;267:37–40.

Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag; 1998:228–238.

Schottner M, Gansser D, Spiteller G. Lignans from the roots of Urtica dioica and their metabolites bind to human sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Planta Med. 1997;63(6):529–532.

Teucher T, Obertreis B, Rutkowski T, et al. Cytokine secretion in whole blood of healthy volunteers after oral ingestion of an Urtica dioca L. leaf extract. Arzneim-Forsch. 1996;46:906–910.

Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. Binghamton, NY: Haworth; 1994:84–85.

Wylie G, et al. A comparative study of Tenidap, a cytokine-modulating anti-rheumatic drug, and diclofenac in rheumatoid arthritis: a 24 week analysis of a 1-year clinical trial. Br J Rheumatol. 1995;34:554–563.


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Rheumatoid Arthritis
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