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Stinging Nettle

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What other names is Stinging Nettle known by?

Bichu, Common Nettle, Feuille d'Ortie, Graine d'Ortie, Grande Ortie, Great Stinging Nettle, Nettle, Nettle Leaf, Nettle Seed, Nettle Worth, Nettles, Ortie, Ortie Brûlante, Ortie des Jardins, Ortie Dioïque, Ortie Méchante, Ortiga, Small Nettle, Stinging Nettles, Urtica, Urtica dioica, Urtica urens, Urticae Herba et Folium, Urticae Radix.

What is Stinging Nettle?

Stinging nettle is a plant. The root and above ground parts are used as medicine.

Stinging nettle root is taken by mouth for urination problems related to an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia [BPH]). These problems include nighttime urination, urination that is too frequent, painful urination, inability to urinate, and irritable bladder.

Stinging nettle root is also used for elevated blood glucose, joint ailments, as a "water pill" (diuretic), and as an astringent. It is also used in women who have high levels of male sex hormones. This condition is called hyperandrogenism.

Stinging nettle above ground parts are used along with large amounts of fluids in so-called "irrigation therapy" for urinary tract infections (UTI), urinary tract inflammation, and kidney stones (nephrolithiasis). The above-ground parts are also used for seasonal allergies (hay fever) and osteoarthritis.

The above ground parts of stinging nettle are also taken by mouth for internal bleeding, including uterine bleeding, nosebleeds, and bowel bleeding. The above ground parts are also used for anemia, poor circulation, an enlarged spleen, diabetes and other hormone disorders, too much acid in the stomach, diarrhea, asthma, lung congestion, heart failure, rash, eczema, cancer, preventing the signs of aging, "blood purification," wound healing, and as a general tonic.

Stinging nettle above ground parts are applied to the skin for muscle aches and pains, oily scalp, oily hair, and hair loss (alopecia).

In foods, young stinging nettle leaves are eaten as a cooked vegetable.

In manufacturing, stinging nettle extract is used as an ingredient in hair and skin products.

Stinging nettle leaf has a long history of use. It was used primarily as a diuretic and laxative in ancient Greek times.

Don't confuse stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) with white dead nettle (Lamium album).

Possibly Effective for...

  • Osteoarthritis. Taking stinging nettle leaf preparations by mouth or applying it to the skin might reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis. Taking stinging nettle leaf preparations by mouth might also reduce the need for pain medications.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Hay fever. Early research suggests that using stinging nettle above ground parts at the first signs of hay fever symptoms may help provide relief.
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). There is contradictory evidence about the effectiveness of stinging nettle, taken alone or together with other ingredients, for improving symptoms of BPH. Early research suggests that taking stinging nettle root preparations for up to 24 months improves urinary tract symptoms in people with BPH. However, stinging nettle root preparations may not improve the flow and force of urine. Many studies have evaluated a particular combination product that contains stinging nettle and saw palmetto (PRO 160/120 by Willmar Schwabe GmbH, Germany). Some research suggests that taking this product by mouth can improve urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH. This combination seems to be comparable to the prescription medication finasteride for relieving symptoms of BPH, and it may be better tolerated. But it's not known if this benefit is due to stinging nettle, saw palmetto, or both ingredients. Another product containing a combination of stinging nettle root, saw palmetto lipoidal extract, pumpkin seed oil, lemon bioflavonoid, and beta-carotene does not improve symptoms of BPH.
  • Bleeding. Some early research suggests that applying a specific product (Ankaferd blood stopper) containing alpinia, licorice, thyme, stinging nettle, and common grape vine to the skin reduces bleeding during surgery. However, it does not seem to reduce the duration of surgery.
  • Diabetes. Some early research suggests that taking a stinging nettle leaf preparation daily for 8 weeks does not help control of blood sugar levels in people with uncontrolled, advanced diabetes. However, other early research shows that taking a stinging nettle leaf preparation for 3 months decreases blood sugar and A1c levels in people with diabetes who are taking antidiabetes medications.
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Early research suggests that using a mouthwash containing stinging nettle, juniper, and yarrow twice daily for 3 months does not reduce plaque or bleeding in people with gingivitis.
  • Excess male hormone levels in women (hyperandrogenism). Early research suggests that taking a stinging nettle root preparation for about 4 months is not more effective than standard therapy for improving menstrual cycle conditions, oily skin, or acne in women with excess male hormone levels.
  • Anemia.
  • Asthma.
  • Cancer.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Poor circulation.
  • Water retention.
  • Wound healing.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate stinging nettle for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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