From its anti-inflammatory qualities to its potential to detoxify the body, this plant is a true powerhouse with numerous health benefits. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the incredible health benefits of stinging nettle and how you can incorporate this herb into your daily routine.
What is Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is a common weed found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia that has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. Its scientific name is Urtica dioica, and it has many unique properties that make it one of the most versatile herbs in the world.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a perennial herb that is found in temperate climates throughout the world.
It’s a common weed found throughout North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia that has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb.
The plant grows to a height of 4-8 feet and has long, sharp, green leaves that are serrated on the edges.
This herb can grow on its own in forests and road-sides and spreads quickly in damp, fertile soil.
The leaves and stems of the plant are covered in tiny hairs that contain a chemical compound called formic acid. When these hairs come into contact with the skin, they release formic acid, which causes a burning and stinging sensation.
Stinging nettle has been used medicinally for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, including arthritis, allergies, and urinary tract infections. The plant is also a rich source of vitamins and minerals, making it an excellent addition to any diet.
Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle
1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Traditionally, people used stinging nettle to treat arthritis. Today, people still use the herb to treat inflammations in the joints and muscles.
Modern research shows that the plant works by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes, making it a powerful ally in the fight against chronic inflammation.
Besides, a number of studies have shown that stinging nettle extract can help to reduce inflammation in the body. In one study, participants who took a daily dose of stinging nettle extract for four weeks had significantly lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines than those who did not take the supplement.
Other studies have shown that stinging nettle can help to reduce joint pain and swelling associated with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. The plant’s anti-inflammatory properties may also help treat other inflammation-related conditions, such as allergies and asthma.
Also, studies show that a topical application of stinging nettle produces a similar effect as capsaicin cream; It blocks sensory nerves that carry pain. However, stinging nettle alone was shown to produce moderate pain relief. But when used in addition to NSAID diclofenac, there’s a higher amount of pain relief.
Therefore, maximum benefits come from combining the two. Using stinging nettle helps reduce diclofenac dosage. And patients who use less diclofenac experience fewer side effects.
2. Treats Enlarged Prostate
Enlarged prostates, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a non-cancerous problem affecting most men as they age. Although it doesn’t increase the risk of cancer, the problem affects urine flow which can be quite unsettling.
Stinging nettle can help with BPH by inhibiting the production of 5alpha reductase. This enzyme converts testosterone into a more powerful hormone called dihydrotestosterone, which is associated with an enlarged prostate. So when this conversion stops, prostate size reduces, rendering relief to the urinary tract.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is a common problem affecting 47% of adults in the United States. In the worst cases, it can lead to heart attack and stroke. Clinical studies show that stinging nettle can lower blood pressure in several ways.
First, stinging nettle is an anti-oxidant that stimulates the production of nitric oxide (NO). This nitric oxide functions as a vasodilator, which widens the blood vessels, hence, reducing blood pressure.
Secondly, the stinging nettle acts as a calcium channel blocker. That means it prevents calcium from entering the blood vessels.
Calcium makes the blood vessels to contract, which increases blood pressure. So when calcium is blocked, the blood vessels relax and lower the blood pressure.
4. Controls Diabetes
Several studies on humans and animals show that stinging nettle can help manage type 2 diabetes. It does this by stimulating the pancreas to release insulin. It also inhibits the production of alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that helps digest carbohydrates and starch into glucose.
In One study involving 46 patients taking 500mg of stinging nettle extract thrice a day for three months, researchers found that patients who took the extract experienced a significant reduction in blood sugar compared to those who took placebo pills.
5. Reduces Allergic Symptoms
Research shows stinging nettle may help with hay fever and allergic rhinitis.
Most allergic reactions cause inflammation. Since this herb has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help alleviate the symptoms. Furthermore, it blocks histamine receptors and inhibits the production of chemicals that trigger allergic reactions.
However, a 2017 study on the effectiveness of stinging nettle failed to show a significant difference between the herb and placebo pills. So there is a need for more research in this area.
6. Improves Kidney Health
Nettle leaf is traditionally used as a diuretic to promote urine flow and help relieve water retention. This action helps to flush out the kidneys and improve kidney health.
However, most research on the diuretic effect of stinging nettle is based on animals. So more research is needed on human subjects. Nonetheless, taking some amount regularly can still come a long way.
7. Helps Detoxify the Body
The liver is responsible for removing toxins from the body. But sometimes, it can fail due to overworking. Stinging nettle promotes liver detoxification, and by so doing, it protects the liver from damage that may result from heavy metals like mercury.
Also, its diuretic effect helps remove toxins from the body quickly. That ensures harmful chemicals don’t accumulate in the body.
8. Reduces the risk of cancer
Stinging nettle has anti-oxidant properties that reduce free radicals in the body. Free radicals lead to many health problems, including cancer. It also has flavonoid compounds, which are anti-cancer agents.
There is some evidence from laboratory and animal studies that suggest stinging nettle may help to protect against cancer. For example, one study found that an extract of stinging nettle could kill human prostate cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
However, it’s important to remember that there is currently no strong evidence from human studies to show that stinging nettle can reduce the risk of cancer. More research is needed in this area before any firm conclusions can be made.
9. Benefits women’s health
The plant contains iron which helps women recover iron lost during menstruation. It also increases nutrients in the milk for breastfeeding mothers.
10. Treats urinary tract infections
Stinging nettle contains compounds that have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it an effective natural remedy for UTIs.
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that stinging nettle effectively treated UTIs caused by E. coli bacteria. The study found that the herb could inhibit the growth of bacteria and reduce inflammation.
11. Heals wounds
Stinging nettle helps reduce the surface area of second-degree burns. It accelerates wound healing and reduces bleeding after surgery.
12. Helps with skin and hair care
This herb is said to help with skin conditions like acne and eczema. It also contains sulfur and silica, which promotes hair growth.
How to Use Stinging Nettle
If you’re lucky enough to have stinging nettle growing in your yard, you can cut a few fresh leaves and use them in any number of recipes. Always wear gloves when handling stinging nettle, as the leaves can cause irritation.
Here are some ideas for how to use stinging nettle:
For Kitchen Use
I. Sautéed stinging nettle
Sautéing stinging nettle is a great way to enjoy the plant’s unique flavor. When sautéed, stinging nettle loses its ability to sting, making it a safe and delicious addition to any meal.
To sauté stinging nettle, wash the leaves and remove the stems. Then, heat some oil in a pan over medium heat and add the nettle leaves. Cook for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring, until the leaves are wilted and tender.
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately. You can enjoy your sautéed stinging nettles as a side dish or on their own!
ii. Nettle soup
To make nettle soup, first, gather about a pound of fresh nettles.
Chop the nettles into small pieces and sauté them in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes. Then add some chopped onion and garlic and sauté for a few more minutes.
Next, add enough water to cover the vegetables and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until it’s smooth.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.
iii. Nettle pesto
Nettle pesto is a great way to use up an abundance of nettles, and it’s easy to make. Simply blanch the nettles in boiling water for a few minutes to remove the sting, then chop them up and combine with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, walnuts (or pine nuts), garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend everything together in a food processor or blender until smooth, then enjoy your homemade nettle pesto on bread, pasta, or pizza.
Stinging nettle is a herb that has been used medicinally for centuries. The entire plant is helpful, but the leaves and roots are most commonly used. Nettle can be found in many forms, including fresh, dried, or as a supplement.
Stinging nettle is most commonly used as an herbal tea. To make tea, steep 2-3 tablespoons of dried nettle leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes. This tea can be drunk up to 3 times per day.
Nettle leaf can also be found in capsule form. The usual dose is 300-500mg two to three times per day.
Nettle root is most commonly used in tincture form. A tincture is an alcohol extraction of the herb and is taken by dropperfuls. The standard dose of nettle root tincture is 1-2ml three times per day.
How to Use
- To treat allergies or hay fever, drink a cup of stinging nettle tea daily.
- To ease joint pain or arthritis, apply a compress of stinging nettle leaves to the affected area.
- To boost your energy levels, take a tincture of stinging nettle before breakfast and lunch.
- To fight inflammation, drink two cups of stinging nettle tea per day or take capsules containing 500mg of stinging nettle leaf extract three times per day.
Stinging Nettle Side Effects
While stinging nettle is generally considered safe, there are some potential side effects that you should be aware of before using it.
- The most common side effect is skin irritation at the site of contact with the plant. If you have sensitive skin, you may experience more severe irritation, swelling, and redness. The irritation typically lasts for a few minutes to a few hours and generally goes away on its own.
- In rare cases, people may have an allergic reaction to stinging nettle that can include difficulty breathing and swelling of the face or throat.
- Taking stinging nettle extract or drinking tea made from stinging nettle may also cause stomach upset in some people. If you experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after drinking the tea, discontinue use and consult your doctor.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take stinging nettle without first talking to your healthcare provider. Additionally, if you have any medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, you should also speak with your healthcare provider before taking this herb.
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Stinging nettle might be a common weed, but it certainly has some impressive health benefits.
From helping reduce inflammation and improve diabetes to boosting immunity and allergy symptoms, stinging nettle is an incredibly versatile herb that can provide numerous benefits for your overall wellbeing.
If you’re looking for a natural way to improve your health, consider adding this amazing plant to your diet today!
But like every herb, stinging nettle can cause side effects, including interacting with other medications. However, side effects are more likely to occur in cases of overdose.
Nevertheless, it’s critical to consult your healthcare provider, especially if you are taking drugs for diabetes, blood pressure, and water pills.
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