Jan 26, 2013

The Sting in Stinging Nettles

Brushing up against a stinging nettle can produce a painful sting from the tiny hairs that cover its leaves. Although considered a weed in some countries, stinging nettle has been harvested and used as an alternative herbal treatment for centuries. It is native to Europe and also grows in America and now in other countries.

Belonging to the Uritca plant family, the flowering top section of the plant, leaves, stem and root are harvested for their use in herbal teas, tinctures, extracts, creams and as a culinary ingredient. This article discusses the nutritional properties of stinging nettles, health applications, recommended dosages and side effects.

Nutritional Properties of Stinging Nettles

Stinging nettles are low in calories at just 37 calories per cup. They contain insignificant amounts of fat. They are a source of protein and carbohydrates. They are a rich source of iron and calcium. Eating rich iron food is recommended to both prevent and treat anemia, a condition causing fatigue and lethargy. Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth. They are also an excellent source of vitamin A, C and K.

The Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle is often prescribed by alternate medical practitioners to treat the following ailments.
  • Urinary Complaints

    This herb can be used to prevent and treat urinary problems such as enlarged prostate and urinary tract infections. It is a natural diuretic, meaning it helps rid the body of excess fluid via the kidneys. It has shown to help alleviate the symptoms of enlarged prostate such as improving urine flow, prevent dripping after urination and alleviate the feeling of urge to urinate frequently.
  • Treatment for Arthritis, Joint Pain and Muscle Pain

    Stinging Nettle can help alleviate the symptom of pain caused by inflammation. This herb is a natural anti-inflammatory. By reducing swelling in joints caused by inflammation, pain sensations are reduced and it helps to improve range of motion in arthritic joints.
  • Hay fever Relief

    This herb contains natural antihistamines. Drinking this herbal tea can help reduce the intensity of symptoms such as sneezing and itching associated with hay fever. It helps to reduce the amount of histamine in the blood which is responsible for the symptoms of an allergen response in the body.
  • Increased Energy and Vigor

    Stinging nettle is both high in iron and vitamin C. These two nutrients compliment each other in body function. Vitamin C helps iron to be absorbed into the blood. It is well known that healthy blood iron levels contribute to increased energy levels and reduces fatigue. Women can benefit greatly from drinking this herbal tea as many women suffer with low iron levels due to monthly menstrual cycles. This herb is also believed to stimulate the adrenal glands which also helps to stimulate energy levels in general.
  • Treatment for Gout

    Gout is an extremely painful condition caused by inflammation affecting the joints of the big toes. It is believed to be caused by the build up of uric acid in the bloodstream. Stinging nettle has shown to reduce uric acid levels in the blood and can be used to both prevent and treat gout.
  • Treatment for Eczema

    This herb both applied topically as a cream and drinking it as an herbal tea has shown benefits for eczema suffers. It can help relieve the painful, itchy sensations associated with this disease. It helps by reducing inflammation in the body that is the primary cause of eczema.
Recommended Dosages of Stinging Nettle
Dosages of stinging nettle vary dependent upon what ailment you are treating. Potency of each preparation may vary; hence it is important to follow the dosing information on the package. Generally it is recommended to drink up to 3 cups of herbal tea per day. In capsule form, you can take up to 1300mgs per day. In tincture form it is recommended to take 1 to 4 mls three times a day.

Side Effects of Stinging Nettle Preparations

Stinging nettle can cause side effects which can include rash when applied topically to the skin. It can cause the symptoms of stomach ache, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, fluid retention and dizziness when ingested. It can also cause an allergic reaction in some sensitive people. It is known to lower blood pressure which can cause the symptom of feeling faint. If you experience any of these side effects, stop using the products immediately and consult your physician.

Stinging nettle can also interact with your current medications, most commonly with diabetic medications, blood pressure medications, blood thinners, heart medications and diuretics. Pregnant and breast feeding mothers should not take stinging nettle and neither should children under the age of 12 be given it. The best advice is to talk to your physician before commencing any herbal medicine.

In conclusion, stinging nettle has many powerful health benefits. Stinging nettle leaf teas are readily available in most health food shops. You can make your own herbal teas by drying out the leaves of the plant in the sun to use in your own preparations. Stinging nettles are easy to grow in most climates. Be careful handling the stinging nettle plants, wearing gloves are recommended to prevent irritation to the skin. The plant and its roots can be blanched to serve as an alternate green complimenting any meat dishes. Always talk to your physician before commencing any herbal remedy to treat existing ailments.


University of Maryland Medical Center Stinging Nettle Retrieved December 24,2012
The Physicians of Saint Louis University Stinging Nettle Retrieved December 24,2012
NYU Langone Medical Center Nettle Retrieved December 24,2012


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