Many of us consider it nothing but a nuisance. An irritant that we just want to get out of our yard before it grows too big. Yet the very weed we are most anxious to get rid of is a healer. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica – meaning to burn) is one of the wonder herbs on the planet. The prickly bush has curative powers in the leaves; the stem and the roots.
The Nutritional Benefits of The Nettle Plant
- Vitamins: Vitamins A, C and K, as well as several B vitamins
- Minerals: Calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium
- Fats: Linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and oleic acid
- Amino acids: All of the essential amino acids
- Polyphenols: Kaempferol, quercetin, caffeic acid, coumarins and other flavonoids
- Pigments: Beta-carotene, lutein, luteoxanthin and other carotenoids
The Benefits Of Stinging Nettle
1. Flushes The Kidneys
Susun Weed in her book, “Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year”, Tells the story of a woman who was due to be put on dialysis. Using nettles tea she was able to completely rebuild her kidneys. Any accumulation of minerals in the kidneys, such as gravel and stones, is gently loosened, dissolved and eliminated by the consistent use of Nettle infusions.”
When used with large amounts of fluids in “irrigation therapy” it helps in healing urinary tract infections (UTI), urinary tract inflammation, and kidney stones (nephrolithiasis).
2. Nettle Heals The Prostate
Stinging nettle root is used for urination problems related to an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia [BPH]). These problems include nighttime urination, too frequent urination, painful urination, inability to urinate, and irritable bladder.
BPH is a histologically diagnosed disease and is present in 8% of men aged 41 to 50, 40 to 50% of men aged 51 to 60, 70% of men aged 61 to 70, and more than 80% of men older than 80 years.
Benign Prostate Symptoms
The classic clinical presentation of BPH is the experience of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). These symptoms include:
- Slow or intermittent stream
- Straining, and terminal dribbling (Table 1).
These symptoms are experienced moderately to severely in 25% of men in their 50s, 33% of men in their 60s, and approximately 50% of men in their 80s.
Nettle relieves the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. In a clinical trial, 287 BPH patients who had been treated with nettle (Urtica dioica) showed a significant reduction in IPSS, serum PSA and prostate size.
3. Helps In The Healing of Diabetics
The plant contains compounds that may mimic the effects of insulin. In a three-month study in 46 people, taking 500 mg of stinging nettle extract three times daily significantly lowered their blood sugar levels compared to a placebo.
4. Regulates High Blood Pressure
Stinging nettle has been traditionally used to treat high blood pressure.
Firstly, it stimulates nitric oxide production, which acts as a vasodilator. This relaxes the muscles in your blood vessels, helping them to widen. Additionally, stinging nettle has compounds that act as calcium channel blockers, this relaxes your heart by reducing the force of contractions.
In animal studies, stinging nettle has been shown to lower blood pressure levels while raising the heart’s antioxidant defenses.
5. Helps With Arthritis
Stinging Nettle was used as far back as the ancient Egyptians to treat arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation tells us this about the nettle plant:
“The antimicrobial, antioxidant, analgesic and anti-ulcer properties of stinging nettle have been studied in Germany and Turkey. Stinging nettle is high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium and may be helpful for gout.”
Don’t Use Nettle When It Is In Bloom
When the nettle begins to flower it signifies a change in the plant. A change that benefits butterflies and moths, but is dangerous to humans. As John Wright tells us (in his Hedgerow book):
‘At the first sign of flowers you must stop picking. The plant will now start producing cystoliths – microscopic rods of calium carbonate – which can be absorbed by the body where they will mechanically interfere with kidney function.’
How To Use Nettle Leaf
To prepare Nettle tea, add a tablespoon of nettle leaves to a cup of hot water. Cover the cup and let it steep for five (5) minutes before straining it. Drink a few cups of nettle tea during the day. You can also add nettle to your salads and meals. Once the leaves are cut small they will not irritate when ingesting. Irritation occurs when the leaves touch the lips.