Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) or nettle is a perennial plant that grows three to five feet in height. It has dark green, heart-shaped leaves and greenish flowers. The leaves and stem are covered in fine hairs that sting when they touch the skin. The sting can last for several hours. Stinging nettle typically grows in temperate climates. A native of northern Europe and Asia, it can now be found in Australia, Africa, and North and South America as well. The leaves are edible and have a pleasant flavor as well as being a good source of vitamins and minerals. Both the root and leaves have medicinal properties.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
BPH is a condition where an enlarged prostate gland puts pressure on the urethra, causing a constant urge to urinate and a reduced flow of urine. By reducing the rate that cells divide in the prostate gland, stinging nettle extract slows the growth of the prostate cells, relieving symptoms of BPH. Before using stinging nettle as a treatment for BPH, a medical examination should always occur. Symptoms of BPH are very similar to symptoms of more serious conditions such as prostate cancer, which should be ruled out before BPH treatment begins.
Allergies and Hay fever
Stinging nettle leaf has anti-inflammatory properties that help stop swelling due to allergic reactions. The leaf contains caffeic malic acid, which works to stop the chemical reactions that cause histamine to release inflammation-causing chemicals. Stinging nettle is especially useful in rashes caused by an allergic reaction to shellfish.
Stinging nettle root extract is helpful in low doses for treating sinus allergies such as hay fever. The extract stimulates the making of T-cells, which are cells in the immune system that act as a check against other immune cells involved in allergic reactions.
Iron-deficiency anemia is a condition caused by low iron levels in the body. Stinging nettle helps treat anemia because it is an excellent source of iron. It also contains chlorophyll and vitamin C, a vitamin which assists the body in absorbing iron. The red blood cells count is low due to iron deficiency anemia making it difficult for the blood to supply enough amount of oxygen to tissues. The rich amount of iron in nettle improves the production of RBC.
Stinging nettle has been used to treat arthritis pain for many centuries, but still there no conclusive studies. Some people find relief from their arthritis pain by applying nettle leaf externally. Some studies show that stinging nettle extract can enhance the effects of NSAID pain relievers, allowing people to reduce their NSAID use.
Low Sex Drive
Testosterone is a hormone that helps build sexual desire in both men and women. The body produces another chemical called sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG) that binds with testosterone to make them inactive. Stinging nettle root contains lignans that interfere with SHBG. This keeps testosterone active in the system, which in turn stimulates the libido. It also prevents benign prostate enlargement.
Muscle and Joint Pain
The anti-inflammatory properties of stinging nettle make it a good topical treatment for sore muscles and joints. For pain management creams made from nettle leaves extract are mostly used.
Stinging nettle is a diuretic. It should not be used by people with fluid retention caused by congestive heart failure or kidney disorder. It can cause a loss of potassium. If using stinging nettle regularly, it’s necessary to take potassium supplements or foods rich in potassium such as bananas or potatoes.
It is possible that stinging nettle can interfere with some types of medications such as anticoagulants, drugs for high blood pressure or diabetes, and some sedatives. It’s essential to consult a health practitioner first when taking any of these medications.
The leaf of the stinging nettle has occasionally been known to cause a rash. Usage should be stopped immediately if a rash or skin allergy occurs. Also, it’s not recommended to apply nettle extract on open wounds.