Nettle improves the body’s resistance to pollens, moulds, and environmental pollutants. It stabilises mast cell walls, which stops the cycle of mucous membrane hyperactivity, and it nourishes and tones the veins, improves veins’ elasticity, reduces inflammation, and helps prevent blood clots. It also helps curb the appetite, cleanses toxins from the body, and energises, making it a motivating ally for those who seek to stay on a healthy diet. Drinking nettle tea before and after surgery helps build the blood, promotes healthy blood clotting, speeds recovery, and helps the patient reclaim his or her energy.
Nettle is also used for the practice known as urtication, in which one intentionally stings oneself with the plant. This practice, which dates back at least two thousand years, induces a rush of blood to the stung area, producing a counterirritation that reduces inflammation and provides temporary pain relief. Urtication energises the nerves, muscles, capillaries, and local lymphatic system and causes the body to secrete antihistamines. It can help relieve the pain of arthritis, coldness in the extremities, gout, lumbago, muscular weakness, multiple sclerosis, neuritis, palsy, rheumatism, sciatica, and tendonitis (chronic).
Topically, nettle can be used as a hair rinse to treat dandruff and hair loss, a cleanser for oily skin, a sitz bath for haemorrhoids, a wash for sunburn, a douche for vaginitis, and an enema for detoxification. Compresses prepared with nettle tea can be used to treat arthritic joints, burns, chilblains, eczema, gout, heat rash, insect bites, mastitis, neuralgia, rash, sciatica, tendonitis, varicose veins, and wounds.
Stinging Nettle; Grande Ortie, Ortie dioïque (French); (Grosse); Nessel, Brennessel (German); Ortica (Italian); Ortiga (Spanish); Pokrzywa zwyczajna (Polish); Brännässla (Swedish); Stornesle (Norwegian); Stor nælde (Danish); Nokkonen (Finnish); Sérbýlisnetla (Icelandic)
It is often repeated that the Roman soldiers brought the Nettle to Britain, as they were told that the climate was so cold that they would need to rub their limbs with the stinging plant to prevent numbness from the chill. The Roman writer Caius Petronius maintained that a man’s virility improved when he was whipped with nettle branches below the kidneys and the belly button. For centuries, rheumatics were also whipped to expel the sickness.
The Aztecs Herbal of 1552 recommends sniffing a mixture of crushed nettles in milk to stop a nosebleed. The Aztec Herbal also prescribed a combination of nettles crushed in water and boiled as a poultice for arthritis.
Pregnant Native American women drank nettle herbal tea to strengthen their babies, their uterus and their blood.
In the medical treatise King’s America Dispensatory, the Eclectics advised using it as a diuretic and to treat cystitis and urinary incontinence. They claimed it was astringent and hemostatic, and recommended it in a decoction made from the fresh plant for use against eczema, diarrhoea and haemorrhoids.
Nettle grows in temperate regions worldwide. The shoots are picked in spring for use as a tonic and a vegetable. Aerial parts are picked in summer when the plant is in flower. The root is harvested in autumn.
Antirheumatic, antiallergic. depurative, styptic (hemostatic)
Nettle’s principal use is as a cleansing, detoxifying herb. It has a diuretic action, possibly due to its flavonoids and high potassium content, and increases urine production and the elimination of waste products. Nettle also helps many skin conditions and arthritic problems.
Nettle is antiallergenic. It treats hay fever, asthma, itchy skin conditions, and insect bites. The juice can be used to treat nettle stings.
Combines well with Baical Skullcap for allergies.
The leaves help anaemia and improve breast milk production. The root is used for prostate enlargement.
Studies with volunteers suggest the immediate reaction to nettle sting is the result of histamine introduced by the nettle. The persistence of the stinging sensation may be caused by the presence of substances directly toxic to nerves or capable of inducing a secondary release of other mediators. Acetylcholine is present in the hairs and contributes to the stinging reaction.
Sixty-nine volunteers completed a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study investigating the effect of a freeze-dried preparation of nettle leaf on allergic rhinitis. Patients were advised to take nettle leaf (600 mg) or placebo at the onset of symptoms. Nettle was rated higher than placebo in the global assessments but was only slightly higher in diary data after I week.
A multicenter, postmarketing surveillance study examined the safety and therapeutic benefit of a nettle leaf preparation (dose unknown) in nearly 9000 patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. After 3 weeks, 82% of patients believed that the treatment had relieved their symptoms, 38% indicated that they might have their NSAID therapy reduced, and 26% no longer required NSAID therapy.
Several uncontrolled studies have indicated that using nettle leaf extract in conjunction with standard NSAID therapy may achieve a dose reduction of the latter in treating rheumatic complaints. Doses equivalent to 9.1g per day of leaf or 50 g per day stewed fresh young leaf was prescribed.
The sting of nettle leaf is beneficial in treating osteoarthritis pain at the base of the thumb or index finger in a randomised, double-blind, controlled, crossover trial. Nettle or placebo leaf was stroked over the painful area daily.
In Germany, the Commission E supports using nettle leaf as supportive therapy for rheumatic ailments by an internal and external application. Nettle leaf is also recommended internally with copious fluid intake for inflammatory diseases of the lower urinary tract and prevention and treatment of kidney gravel.
ESCOP recommends nettle leaf as adjuvant therapy for rheumatic conditions and irrigation in inflammatory diseases of the lower urinary tract.
Dosage (Divided Daily)
• Dried Leaf: 9,000 – 50,000mg (as a tea)
• Dried Powder: 2,000 – 8,000mg
• Tincture: 3 – 6 mL (1:2)
Some people may be contact allergic to the plant
Interactions with other drugs
- Balch, P. A., & Bell, S. J. (2012). Prescription for herbal healing (2nd ed.). New York, N.Y.: Avery.
- Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: herbal formulations for the individual patient. St. Louis, MI: Churchill Livingstone.
- Chevallier, A. (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine (2nd American ed.). New York: DK Pub.
- Herbalpedia (2013)
- Mars, B. (2007). The desktop guide to herbal medicine: the ultimate multidisciplinary reference to the amazing realm of healing plants, in a quick-study, one-stop guide. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Pub.
- World Health Organization., & Ebrary. (1999). WHO monographs on selected medicinal plants (pp. electronic text.). Retrieved from https://virtual.anu.edu.au/login/?url=http://site.ebrary.com/lib/anuau/Top?id=10040306
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